By inheriting the theme of mountains being named “Hela”(“Fall”) on the Eastern side, our next site is aptly but rather contradictorily named “Konduruhela”. It is situated in the Eastern Province specifically on the Ampara District which is also where Arugam Bay beach is although they are over 2 hours journey apart by car. But it is also closer to Govinda Hela, another mountain range in the vicinity.
This is in the dry zone hence, it would certainly lack the soothing experience you find in the Central areas of the country, however, it would provide an experience on itself. This mountain also has dual peaks and situated in Bakmitiyawa-Thimbirigolla (තිඹිරිගොල්ල) forest reserve.
The destination is Bakmitiyawa and there are several ways to reach there, you could either head there via Pannelgama from Ampara or our recommended route of Kongaspitiya, with the added bonus of getting a first-row view of the beauty of Govinda Hela and Wadinagala as they are both on route to your destination. The journey from Kongaspitiya to our destination is about 25km away and as previously mentioned would give you some of the sights to behold on the journey. The journey however gets harsher the further you go as the condition of the road becomes more and more deteriorated, as it extends through the countless Chena cultivations and the dry zone forest.
The streets of Bakmitiyawa which used to be roamed by Terrorists are now roamed by Wild Elephants, which is not surprising considering that it is situated in the Ampara district which is in the abundance of wildlife and unfortunately battered by the civil war. If you are lucky(or not) you might see a stayed off wild elephant here and there, as proof of the beauty and the unfortunate part of the location. The description above might have already given away but this is a village situated in the deep forest. To reach Pannelgama from here, there are 2 prominent ways, one of which via the forest close to Konduruhela, the drive from the village to the base is about 1.5 km.
If you have at least some experience in hiking mountains then this might actually not be the hardest climb you’ve done, in fact it is rather easy. Unlike in most situations, the infamous app that makes our heads twirl once in while, “Google Map”, actually comes in handy in this situation as it could direct you towards a place between the double peak and it is a slow and steady rise from the road to this place, which spoiler alerts, would give you probably one of the best views you’ll see in your journey.
Another advantage of this point is that it could lead you towards your next hike as it serves as a brilliant scouting point because the views of nearby mountains are all visible, Govinda Hela and Wadinagala were the most prominent but in addition to those Neelagirihela, Karanda Hela Neelagirihela are also visible. The highest point of the current journey, Konduruhela was also visible.
From an ideal scouting point, you can directly head to the ideal camping point in the site which is towards the eastern side of the mountain. In the close proximity you can see an archaeological excavation site specifically along with an excavated pagoda, which serves as a good reminder that, along with pretty much all the sites in the proximity, Konduruhela is also a place with historical and archaeological value. Although it was introduced as a perfect camping site, the view from this point is also exceptional, from here you can get a nice and clear of tanks such Ambalanoya and Kanchikudichiaru, spending a brief time here enjoying the view might not be the worst idea ever.
After taking a bit of a rest, you then reach the ultimate destination of this journey or in fact any journey, which is the peak. Once you reach the top, you would notice a few flat slabs, which could serve as another possible point for camping. The view from here is pretty much like the view you get from any peak in the area. THe Siyabalanduwa and Ampara were visible from here with a higher altitude and the area of Pannelgama was observed with much more detail including the Pannelgama reservoir and the Navinnakanda Mountain, which might give the final resolution, that you have indeed reached the peak and the end of this journey.
Photo Credit to http://trips.lakdasun.org/konduruhela-348m.htm