“Elephants, when they were in dotage, went to breathe their last at Madunagala hot springs!” – Dr. R.L. Brohier in Seeing Ceylon
Nobody in the group was in ‘dotage’ but all were anxious to visit the springs.
We drove to Madunagala that morning from Udawalawe. The forty kilometre journey on the A18 via Embilipitiya took about an hour. The thermal wells are in a beautifully sculptured and enclosed garden surrounded by green paddy fields.
Hot water springs are found in many parts of Sri Lanka. The slightly alkaline water at Madunagala (pH 7.1) bubbles up at a temperature of 44 degrees centigrade. It has a high mineral content (5288 mg/L of solids) which is supposed to have health giving properties.
Many visitors travel long distances to bathe here but today there was only brave enough to test the water. “It is fantastic” she later said. There are male and female changing rooms and the baths are clean and hygienic.
At the back of the baths is a somewhat meaningless small zoo with birds and a sad looking Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura. It is listed as Vulnerable (VU), considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.)
Near the car park, there were many kiosks selling local vegetables and fruits, looking fresh and tempting and quite cheap. Sri Lanka has no Minimum Permitted Levels of agro-chemicals and sprayed pesticides and as such, many vegetables and fruits sold in Colombo are ‘poisonous.’ “These are clean” the woman in the shop said. “We have no money for Chemicals.” I bought bags of tomatoes wood-apples and limes – much more than I really needed, keeping my fingers crossed, bordered the coach and sped towards Tissa, our next stop.
(The visit to Madunagala Hot Water Wells was arranged by Flamingo Tours of 129/14, Kadawatha Road Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, Tel: 077-1739773, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.flamingolanka.com)