Natural water body in Colombo | Sunday Observer

Natural water body in Colombo

26 December, 2021

There will be no person who does not want to enjoy a bath in a natural stream while on a holiday. But as there are only a handful of such places in the Colombo District, many people have to spend a lot of time and money to go to a faraway place to experience it.

However, Nachchimale is a natural water body in the vicinity of the Colombo District to which the residents can access easily.

The Madakada or Nambapana Forest and the Nachchimale stream flowing through the forest can be seen when traveling on the Ingiriya- Keenagahawila road. The Madakada Forest Hermitage is also located in the same forest reserve and the distance from Colombo to Nachchimale is less than 50 kilometres.


The Madakada forest which belongs to the Ingiriya site of the Forest Department is spread mainly in the Kalutara District. A small part of the forest also belongs to the Ratnapura District. The forest is spread in Kottayawatta, Maha Ingiriya, Uragala, Nugadanda and Nambapana Grama Niladhari (GN) Divisions. The forest also consists of two small mountains. These mountains are Nambapana Kanda which is nearly 300 metres high and Hapugaha Kanda which is more than 200 metres high. About 28 acres of this 550-acre reserve has been handed over to a forest hermitage.

The forest is being destroyed by chena cultivators. In addition to the natural forest, there are also pine and mahogany plantations which were cultivated during the period 1975-76. Given such artificial cutivation, in many places there is a canopy.

The Madakada Forest Hermitage is at the foot of Nambapana Hill. The Nachchimale stream flows through a rocky valley between the two mountains, creating many pools and small waterfalls. This stream joins the Kalu Ganga from the Nambapana area. Therefore Nachchimale stream is also known as Nambapana River.


The tops of the hills are covered with pine plantations and abandoned rubber plantations at the foot of the mountains. The rest of the area is covered with secondary wet forest cover. ‘Kekuna’ and ‘Waldel’ trees, two endemic plant species, are found predominantly in the secondary forest.

In addition, there are also ‘Badulla’ and ‘Godapara’ trees. In addition to them, many other endemic and non-endemic plants can be found in the forests. Madakada Forest, a lowland tropical secondary rainforest, can also be described as a beautiful forest with ecological features found in the Sinharaja rainforest.

A study of the Madakada Forest has revealed that nearly 250 species of butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds live here. About 55 of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. A waterlogged forest system can be seen around the Nambapana River. Plants such as ‘Godapara’, ‘Diyapara’, ‘Bata’ and ‘Wetakeiya’ are predominant in it. This forest grows on both sides of the river and a canopy can be seen above it.

Nachchimale is now more famous as a bathing spot close to Colombo. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country, it was customary for a large number of urban dwellers to visit this place on weekends.


Due to the location being a popular tourist attraction, hotels that cater to them have also been built and maintained around the river in the recent past. There are several shallow natural swimming pools around the Nachchimale stream forest that flow through the canopy until it creates beautiful views.

However, due to the activities of persons visiting Nachchimale at present, this valuable ecosystem has seen a number of adverse effects. In particular, activities such as littering and taking away various species of plants have caused great damage not only to the beauty of this ecosystem but also to its biological value.

Some agencies are trying to minimise such harmful activities associated with this ecosystem, but the measures they can take to mitigate that harm are somewhat limited as they are not able to observe every nook and cranny. Therefore, people visiting this valuable ecosystem should ensure that this ecosystem, which gives them a unique experience, is passed on to future generations in its original form.