Pidurutalagala | Tallest Mountain in Sri Lanka

Pidurutalagala or Mount Pedro (Sinhala: පිදුරුතලාගල; Tamil: பிதுருதலாகலை), is the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. Situated to the north of Nuwara Eliya town, the mountain rises to an altitude of 2,524 meters (8,280.84 ft.) above sea level (Abeyawardana, 2004; Vithanage, 1988; Werner, 1986). As the main radar system of the country has been installed at the peak of Pidurutalagala, the upper part of the mountain is inaccessible to the public. This radar system is responsible for the traffic control of the country while ensuring a proper scheme for aircraft to follow as well as for detecting and producing aircraft to the responsible authorities.

Sri Lanka is roughly divided into five topographical regions based on the height and landforms; i) the Central Highlands, ii) the South-west country, iii) the East and South-east country, iv) the Northern lowlands and v) the Coastal fringe (Vithanage, 1988). Of them, Pidurutalagala Mountain along with Totapolakanda (2,357 m) and Kirigalpotta (2,395 m) is located in the central backbone of the Central Highlands (Vithanage, 1988).

Pidurutalagala is a gneiss complex of Precambrian origin and it rises gradually from the highest upland surface of 1,800-2,300 m (Werner, 1986). The main peak is framed by two slightly lower peaks and the north side of the mountain is a steep precipice which drops 2,000 m into Maturata Valley (Werner, 1986).

Montane rain forest
In the Sinhala language "Pidurutalagala" means "the Straw-laden rock" and this name may have come into usage from the straw-like dried grass that covers its summit when the weather is dry. The mountain is covered with a montane rainforest and it remains under governmental jurisdiction (Karunarathna et al., 2017). It is also one of the largest montane-protected areas in the country (7,625.29 ha) and part of the Central Highlands which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 (Karunarathna et al., 2017).

It is also the watershed area of streams feeding the Devon Falls and St. Clair's Falls.

Historical records
The plains around Nuwara Eliya at the foot of Pidurutalagala came to the notice of the British rulers in 1819 (Werner, 1986). The first ascent to the Pidurutalagala mountain is not known but probably took place in 1819 or shortly after (Werner, 1986). The German zoologist E. Haeckel climbed the mountain during his visit to the island between 1881 and 1882 and celebrated his 48th birthday on the summit (Werner, 1986). The plant geographer A.W. Schimper climbed the peak in 1896 (Werner, 1986).

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.227-228.
2) Karunarathna, S., Henkanaththegedara, S., Gabadage, D., Botejue, M., Madawala, M. and Surasinghe, T.D., 2017. Ecology and demography of the critically endangered Kandian torrent toad Adenomus kandianus: a long-lost endemic species of Sri Lanka. Oryx, 51(4), pp.619-626.
3) Vithanage, P.W., 1988. Relief and Drainage. The National Atlas of Sri Lanka. Survey Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 9559059009. pp.22-23. 
4) Werner, W.L., 1986. A comparison between two tropical montane ecosystems in Asia: Pidurutalagala (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) and Pangrango-Gede (Java). Mountain Research and Development, pp.335-344.

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This page was last updated on 30 July 2023

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