Meemure is one of Sri Lanka's most secluded and scenic villages, providing an authentic experience of rural life in the country. With its scenic backdrop of the Knuckles Mountain Range and seclusion, Meemure offers a tranquil setting for travelers seeking nature and culture.
This travel guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to plan a trip to this extraordinary destination.
About Meemure Village
Located in the Central Province, Meemure is a small, remote village with a population of around 400 people. The area is mainly agricultural, with paddy fields and vegetable gardens spanning the landscape. Traditional wooden homes with thatched roofs are a common sight, giving the village an authentic Sri Lankan look.
According to local folklore, Meemure Village is over 5,000 years old. The village is deeply connected with several legendary figures and narratives, such as King Ravana, a central character in the Hindu epic 'Ramayana.'
Another significant tale traces back to King Vijaya, who is considered to be Sri Lanka's first recorded ruler. Legend has it that after Vijaya banished his first wife, Kuweni, she found refuge in Meemure Village along with their two children.
The village's seclusion and the distinctive shape of the nearby Lakegala mountain have contributed to its status as a setting for these and other tales.
Landscape of Meemure
The village is surrounded by beautiful mountains, dense forests, and streams, which makes it an excellent location for eco-tourism. The Knuckles Mountain Range offers a scenic backdrop, while the Heen Ganga River runs through the village. The region is rich in biodiversity, with various plant and animal species found in the nearby forests.
Life of Locals
Agriculture is the main livelihood for most residents, with rice, vegetables, and spices being the primary crops. Fishing in the Heen Ganga River is another source of income. Due to its isolation, the village remains largely self-sufficient, with minimal reliance on external resources.
Meemure offers a glimpse into traditional Sri Lankan rural life. Visitors can witness customs, rituals, and lifestyles that have remained unchanged for generations.
The local cuisine mainly consists of rice and curry dishes, often flavored with homegrown spices. Freshwater fish from the Heen Ganga River is also a staple in many meals.
The main attraction for most travelers to Meemure is the hike to Lakegala Mountain. With an elevation of about 1,310 meters, this mountain offers an adventurous trail that promises a challenging hike and astonishing views.
The Hiking Trail to Lakegala
The hiking trail to Lakegala originates in Meemure Village and covers a range of terrains. The trail starts off through dense forests and then opens up to expansive grasslands before reaching rocky areas closer to the peak. If you're interested in photography or bird-watching, consider allocating additional time to pause and take in the sights and sounds.
Lakegala Summit: What to Expect
Reaching the summit of Lakegala is an incredibly rewarding experience. The peak offers magnificent views of the surrounding landscape, including forests, rivers, and the distant outlines of other mountains in the Knuckles Range.
Lakegala is often covered by mist, creating an ethereal atmosphere that adds an otherworldy serenity upon reaching the top.
Lakegala is not a beginner's hike and should be attempted only by those with some hiking experience. It is considered one of the hardest hiking trails in Sri Lanka and is quite dangerous if you are not an experienced hiker. Hiking will involve the use of ropes, especially to get to the summit.
Hiring a local guide is highly recommended for a safer and more informative trek. Guides are knowledgeable about the area's flora and fauna, as well as the best routes to navigate the mountain safely.
How to Get to Meemure
Meemure is not easily accessible by public transportation. The closest town with decent transport links is Hunnasgiriya, about 33 km away.
The most convenient way to reach Meemure is by private vehicle. The road from Hunnasgiriya to Meemure is rough and requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
If you're looking to use public transport, be prepared for a challenging journey. From Hunnasgiriya, you may find local jeeps willing to take you to Meemure, but services are not that frequent.
Best Time to Visit
The best months to visit Meemure are from March to May and September to November when the weather is relatively dry. These months offer the most conducive conditions for hiking and exploring the outdoors.
Where to Stay in Meemure
Accommodation options in Meemure are limited but meaningful. You can choose from a few homestays and guesthouses that offer a simple yet authentic experience.
Homestays: Staying with a local family provides a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the village lifestyle.
Guesthouses: A few guesthouses provide basic amenities like beds, meals, and bathrooms.
What to Pack
Before setting out for your adventure in Meemure and the hike to Lakegala, it's crucial to pack wisely. Proper preparation ensures a more comfortable and safe experience.
- Hiking Gear: Wear sturdy hiking boots that offer good ankle support and have a strong grip, as the terrain can be rocky and sometimes slippery. Moisture-wicking clothing is equally important; it keeps you dry and comfortable during your hike, especially in the varying climates you'll encounter from the forest to the summit.
- First Aid Kit: This is a must for any hiking trip. Include basic over-the-counter medications for headaches, fever, or digestive issues. Antiseptics, bandages, and a small pair of scissors can come in handy.
- Snacks and Water: Pack high-energy snacks like trail mix and energy bars to keep your stamina up. Carry enough water to last you for the duration of the hike; there won't be places to refill along the way.
- Camera: Remember your camera to capture the extraordinary natural beauty you'll encounter. Whether it's the unusual flora or the expansive landscapes, you'll find plenty of photo opportunities.
Tips and Advice
There are several things to keep in mind to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
- Hire a Local Guide: If you plan on hiking, especially up to Lakegala, always hire a local guide. They are familiar with the terrain and can provide valuable insights into the environment.
- Leave No Trace: While exploring Meemure and hiking to Lakegala, please adhere to the "Leave No Trace" approach. Carry all waste back with you and help preserve this beautiful destination for future generations.
- Respect Local Customs: Always be respectful of local customs and traditions. A simple nod of acknowledgment or a polite greeting can go a long way in earning the goodwill of the friendly locals.
- Network Coverage: Prepare yourself for limited mobile network coverage. Let someone know about your plans and estimated time of return before you set out.
When visiting Meemure, there are additional attractions nearby that deserve your attention.
- Knuckles Mountain Range: The nearby Knuckles Mountain Range has some of the most popular hiking trails on the island. It is one of the most ecologically unique places on the island, with ecological zones ranging from dense forests to grasslands.
- Heen Ganga River: Heen Ganga River is a great place for a leisurely swim. The river's calm flow makes it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the water.
- Corbet's Gap: For those who want to enjoy the scenery without a tiring hike, Corbet's Gap provides an amazing viewpoint. Easily accessible by car, this location offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Meemure is a hidden gem that offers an authentic and peaceful experience in Sri Lanka's rural landscape. Whether you're a hiker or just someone seeking peaceful solitude, Meemure Village is an ideal place to spend some time and replenish your soul.