Explore the rich biodiversity! Thoppigala, the last stronghold of LTTE in the East is now open for you!
Thoppigala is called Kudumbimalai in Tamil and translates to "Hair knot rock" in English and was named Baron’s Cap by the British colonists. Thoppigala is located some 45km northwest of Batticaloa. Thoppigala was a much talked about landmark due to its strategic importance in Eelam War IV. It was the last Tamil Tigers stronghold in the East to fall after troops penetrated the thick jungle.
The Army captured Sampur and the surrounding areas in 2006, followed by Vakarai, while the victory at Thoppigala came on July 11, 2007. This was seen as a significant turning point in Eelam War IV, as the entire Eastern Province was liberated.
The ‘Thoppigala Heritage Park’ has put much emphasis on environmental conservation and tourism development in the area. The park stands tall like an oasis in the middle of the harsh landscapes of the East. The magnificent Thoppigala Monument at Alioluwa Junction, considered the biggest in Sri Lanka, was constructed with financial assistance from Dilmah Conservation.
"Thoppigala Heritage Park" comprises of followings
a. The Monument
b. Exhibition Center
c. A Camping Site
The Monument has four stones depicting the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police/CDF to depict their service in the eradication of separatist terrorism. The Exhibition Center comprises two exhibitions, one organized by the Army about how the operations were conducted in the Eastern Theater. The other describes the history of Veddha and Nomads community in the Eastern Region of Sri Lanka along with an exhibition of fauna and flora of the region.
A canteen with modern facilities and a souvenir shop are also available at the Monument site. The camping site is located 1 Km away from the Monument which is an ideal location for "leadership training" exercises and outward bound training. Several adventure games can be organized at the camping site.
Information on the area’s biodiversity with strong messages of conservation is also displayed. Thoppigala has four of the 14 different ecosystems found in Sri Lanka.
The track that leads to the camping site is through grass chest high and thick trees, a typical dry-zone habitat. You can access the camp site only by foot, tractor, or hardy vehicles such as the trusty old Land Rover through the intimidating forest. The campsite is a former LTTE training complex where remnants of some rebel lecture halls and resting areas still remain. It has essential facilities such as bunk-beds, mosquito nets and proper toilet facilities. Petrol lamps light up the night and the music is the cacophonic orchestra of the birds. The Thoppigala lakes and skies are home to many species of birds.
Another attraction at the site is the obstacle course that takes you through 28 different obstacles in over an hour, leaving you huffing and puffing. However the biggest attraction is the trek up to the summit of Thoppigala. It starts off with a manageable ascent up the ‘bottom part of the hat’, then transcends into a vertical climb. After a good 800 metre climb, the panorama that greets us is stunning, stretching out to Ampara, Aralaganwila and Vakarai. As far as the eye can see are vast swathes of green, while the sky turns a brilliant orange – vibrant like the region that is raising its head again, with the amalgamation of all societies alike.
The Heritage Park is maintained by 232 Brigade of Sri Lankan Army. Avoid rainy season to visit.
Have a wonderful Trip!