Somawathiya National Park is one of the 4 national parks in Sri Lanka, which comes under the Mahaweli Development Project.
Queen Somawathie constructed the Somawathie dagoba (a mound-like structure containing relics used as a location of worship) along the eastern side of the Mahaweli River in the 2nd century BC, thus giving this National Park its name. The Park was initially named on August 9, 1966 as a wildlife sanctuary. The Somawathiya National Park is situated north-east of Colombo, 266 kms (165 miles).
Located on the left bank of the Mahaweli River, lies the historic Somawathiya Chaitya. The stupa was named after King Kavan Tissa’s sister Princess Somawathi and Prince Abhaya’s regional ruler’s mother. Prince Abhaya built the stupa to consecrate the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha that was in Arahat Mahinda’s possession, naming the stupa after the princes.
Somawathiya National Park is popular for its plethora of elephants which amount to around 450 and the beautiful birds that nest there. The park is home to mammals including the Sambar, Golden Jackal, Cat fishing, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, and porcupine. The park is frequented by resident birds like the painted Stork and purple Coot among others.
This National Park is a haven to a plethora of mammals. Hence it has to be protected, so that we don’t see a decline in wildlife in Sri Lanka. Today it is a matter of clearing treasured parks to make way for construction, but that should not be the case.
In the present era the Somawathiya National Park is facing a threat due to the Government’s initiative to provide blocks of land that is under the ownership of the park to people who will cultivate bananas on a large scale. It is also said that there is a plan to construct private roads through the park.