Kalugalla Estate

The Origin

 

The Kalugalla Estate originated in the mid forties. It is located about 7 miles from the towns of Ganewatta and Polpitigama in the Kurunegala District in the North Western province of Sri Lanka. In the early days the Kalugalla Estate which is about 50 acres comprised a major part of the small

village of Kalugalla. The village has a small irrigation reservoir serving the paddy fields. On upstream of the reservoir a ridge of hill forms a boundary of the village. Until up to about early sixties the Estate and village were surrounded by tropical forest. An unsurfaced road maintained by the public works department existed even before the development of the village which served the village to access from and to the rest of the country. Two branch rivers Hakwatuna Oya and Kimbulwana Oya of the region's major river Deduru Oya run on either side of the village more than a mile away from the original village. These branch rivers which are just a trickle for most of the year except during the heavy monsoon rain periods had to be crossed over the sand river beds to get to Kalugalla. In the late 50s a causeway was built to cross the Hakwatuna Oya.

 

My memories of Kalugalla during the childhood days best describe the environment of the land. Until unto late 50s the land was developed into coconut plantation in parts.  Besides the healthy young coconut trees there were other crops such as papaya, bananas and pineapples. Papaya was grown to collect its latex from the fruits. Other trees include mango, kadju, and lime. Under the coconut trees the ground cover was grass and manna grass or illuk. Another common plant variety that attracted butterflies was a variety of Catsear which is like dandelion. In the banana and papaya plantations there was little ground cover of vegetation and mostly sandy soil. Weeding was a regular need of the farmland. Under the mature coconut plantation the illuk grass was extinct. On one side of the estate there is a rock outcrop of weathered gneiss. There are little pools of water and cactus growing on the rock. Where the ground cover is sparse in some spots large quantities of snail shells and quarts were found. The irrigation tank was overgrown with water weeds. In some drought seasons the reservoir runs dry. Father built a small reservoir  with an earthen bund to irrigate one of his paddy fields downstream of the village tank and rice fields. The climate is usually pleasant though in some seasons in the afternoon the weather could be sultry  feeling rather uncomfortable. The mornings can be chilly and I had to wade through clumps of grass in fields showered in dew. Father lived in a wattle and daub hut with a kadjan roof. There was a herd of cows and we drank milk in the morning. The water in the well was hard and unpleasant to drink.



There were
herbal plants in the land and wild berries in the forest. The surrounding forest was rich in hardwood trees like satin, ebony and halmilla. The common wildlife was mainly monkeys, elephants, deer, sambar, wild bore and rodents. A species of tiny tortoises was found. The calling of hornbills, jungle fowl and green pigeons (batagoya) broke the monotony and solitude in the land. In the jungle the internal shrill of cicadas continued like pieces in a symphony.

The Present

The present Kalugalla estate and village are a far cry from what this Jungle Tide was in its origin described above. In the late sixties, the forest around the village was cleared for human habitation and the village was expanded, and new social amenities like schools, hospitals and more village tanks were built. Both river crossings have causeway. The environment of Kalugalla Estate at present is a coconut plantation, rice fields and an area of wilderness around the rock with Teak and other trees. I have inspired the family members to develop a botanic garden amidst the coconut estate especially around the rock and the scrubland around it and some aquatic plants in the reservoirs. Hopefully on further personal inducement I hope to develop groves and vistas of herbal and medicinal plants, palm trees, indigenous hardwood trees, flowers, fruit trees and wild berries, vegetables and aquatic plants. Unlike my father's achievements, the present generation finds it difficult to make farming a lucrative business, other than hard work especially under the omen of the vagaries of rainfall and droughts. Therefore returning small area of the estate into a time capsule of biodiversity is one of my ambitions.

 

 

 

 

The Lodge 

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