Towns and villages of Kahandamodara, Kalamatiya, Gurupokuna, Ranna, Nonagama, Rekawa, Bata Atha are located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka in Hambantota district, between Tangalle and Ambalantota, not far from the A2 highway or directly nearby.
This area of southern Sri Lanka is located in semi dry zone. The terrain itself is hilly or generally sloping. It is covered with a mixed shrub and a typical vegetation in the dry region. Here the main residence and several property objects of Lankarus are situated.
Not far away from Bata Atha there is the brackish water lake, and in the village of Gurupokuna there is a saltworks factory. To the south-west stretched far more large lagoons — Kalamatiya and Lunama.
Climate. The average annual precipitation in Bata Atha is 1080 mm. Most precipitation (average — 615 mm.) Falls during the northeast monsoon from October to March. Average rainfall from April to September, during the south-west monsoon — 465 mm. The average monthly temperature (27-32°C) does not differ much during the year. The direction of the wind is mainly south-west from May to September and north-east from December to February. The average wind speed is about 20 km/h.
Flora in Bata Atha, Kalamatiya, Gurupokuna and Kahandamodara areas
The territory is completely covered with secondary jungle and has a hilly relief. There are many meadows on this land, which are now mainly used for grazing livestock. There are several biologically important wetlands on this territory: Kalamatiya and Lunama lagoons, as well as the lakes of Kahandamodara, Kunukali and the salty lagoon in Tillawatawana.
Kalamatiya and Lunama Lagoons were first officially recognized as a unique water-and-natural ecosystem in 1938. Their high status was confirmed again in 1984, when the Wildlife Department announced these areas as reserves.
Kalamatiya Lagoon has extensive mangroves. Small strips of mangrove trees, mainly composed of the species Lumnizera Racemosa and Excoecaria agallocha, are present along the edge of the lagoon. Related species — such as Cferodendrum inerme and types of nodiflora.
The central, northern and western parts of the lagoons of Kalamatiya and Kahandamodara are filled with fresh water with marsh vegetation, for example — Typha latifoiia, together with sedge and floating microphytes. The flooded zones of the lagoons are intensely covered by meadows, on which animals graze. Among the species of vegetation, several herbs dominate. Two endemic plant species originate from this area, namely Xylopia champlomi and Veronia zylamca.
Most species of local fauna are concentrated in the Kalamatiya and Lunama lagoons. According to the report of the Department of Wetlands (the CEA report, 1995) 41 species of fish have been described in this area, including one endemic species — catfish Clarius brachysoma. In the lagoons also live six species of fish, including such as carp, rosh, guppies, gourami, two species of tilapia — Mozambican tilapia (Saratherodon mossambicus) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). A large number of reptile species (15 snakes, 23 quadrupeds) were recorded around the Kalamatiya lagoon; 10 of them are endemic, and 25 species are endangered.
Crocodiles still live in the area, as do the four endangered species of sea turtles. They are known to have their nests locally on the beach from Kalamatiya via Kahandamodara to Rekawa.
Over 180 species of birds have been identified in this area, according to the annual Asian Census of Birds. Herons, white herons, ibises and spoonbills live here in considerable numbers. Rails, coots and jacubs can be found in the lush thickets of reeds and marsh vegetation. The flooding of the lagoon zone to the brim during the monsoon significantly animates the activity of animals and birds. Their species abundance in such periods of the year often exceeds 20,000!
These important for Sri Lanka wetlands — the residence of migratory waterfowl, with nesting colonies of pelicans, herons, white herons, and storks. Here also live large groups of other species of birds during the wintering season. Ducks and waders migrate here. This ecosystem is the habitat for endangered bird species. This makes the area especially unique!
At least two endangered species of mammals have been recorded in the Bata Atha area, and in Kalamatiya and Kahandamodara there is a prickly rat, Majori coelomys, and the Deer mouse, the small Asian deer meminna. The barbed rat is an endemic animal, and nowhere else in Sri Lanka this mammal has been observed! In abundance there live a variety of monkeys, macaques (Masas stnlca). Local elephants were recorded and counted in this area of the island back in 1970. Most of them were later forced to go to nearby protected areas or died as a result of human actions. But a few more elephants sometimes migrate through the area of Bata Atha, Kahandamodara and Kalamatiya. Sambur also recently disappeared from the zone, while spotted deer and wild boar can sometimes be found.
Kalametia Lagoon was included in the catalog of Asian wetlands as far back as 1989, and has the unofficial status of «Wetlands of International Importance». The Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1992 proposed to declare this lagoon as an internationally significant wetland ecosystem.
Religious and cultural attractions
Gurupokuna and Kalamatiya have their own Buddhist temples — places of constant visits to local residents and guests of Turtle Bay, The Islander Beach Villa and Nature Lanka Ayurveda Panchakarma Health Resort. In Tillawatawana and Kahandamodara, the temples are not very large, but several monks live there.
Local historical and archaeological sites include a landmark such as nine stupas in a temple overlooking the ocean 200 meters from Kalamatiya. The temple is located between the lagoon and the sea shore. This is an ancient shrine in which Buddhist relics are stored — bunches of hair of ancient priests-inhabitants of local places. The existence of stone relics of past times at the entrance to the complex show that its construction began the period from 1875 to 1890. Restoration of the complex, held in 1920, emphasized the dignity of the temple in its original form.
Aesthetic pleasure from relaxation
The ocean, the beach and the large lagoons in the immediate vicinity to Bata Atha, Kahandamodara, Kalamatiya, Rekawa and Gurupokuna there are unique natural delights that are of considerable value and importance, both for the environment, and for recreation and tourist prospects. The natural habitat and biodiversity of the lagoons are of national and international importance. This is evidenced by their status of Sanctuary or National Park. As you have already learned, there live several endemic and / or endangered species of animals, as well as endemic plants. They are carefully protected and used in scientific research.
Ocean, beach, nesting grounds of several species of sea turtles, are listed in the international list of endangered species. There are animal protection and environmental protection programs in which scientists and specialists are involved, both from Sri Lanka itself and from around the world. The richest resources for visiting and studying can attract foreign visitors, thus stimulating regional economic development on a long-term sustainable basis. Local residents do not doubt that it is absolutely impossible to build industrial facilities nearby. And it is the residents themselves who are trying to keep their present environment in balance. Moreover, since 2014 the agro-technological park operates in this region, as well as the Bata Atha Botanical Garden named after Chamal Rajapaksa.
Now the garden collection consist of thousands of species and varieties of plants, trees, flowers, herbs and shrubs from around the world. In particular interest you will certainly call the Orchid Lodge and a collection of variegated flowering plants. Orchids conquer everyone, even relatively indifferent to the colors of the visitor. The peculiarity of the collection of Bata Atha is that in the Orchid House you will see many local species of orchids that are not found anywhere else in the world. Here you can see firsthand how mangoes, coconuts, rambutans, lychees, pineapples, tamarinds, guavas and dozens of other tropical fruit trees grow! For lovers of the best beauty of the plant world — this is a real paradise.