Living Heritage of Sri Lanka


One of many caves at Kudumbigala cave complex, Yala National Park

Kudumbigala is the name of an abandoned region in Sri Lanka in the jungle belonging to the villagers of Panama, situated close to the Kumbukkan Oya estuary in Yala East National Park. Nearby is Okanda Devale, a temple shrine dedicated to Skanda-Murukan, situated on a rocky outcrop along the seacoast. The Park is visited via the Eastern Province through the town of Pottuvil (Arugam Bay), the village of Panama and then along a gravel road through Helawa to Kudimbigala and Okanda.

There were once several Panama families living in Kudimbigala during the cultivation season. The escalation of the war led to the villagers as well as the Department of Wildlife Conservation fleeing the area. Except for the Special Task Force of the Sri Lanka Police who are in control of Panama, this area is now a gray area, frequented by only transient guerrillas, passing military, and food gatherers. The presence of Wildlife Department officials recommences at the Menik Ganga. In effect, the 60-km cart track from Panama to the Menik Ganga is not policed by any authority. The Sri Lanka security forces occasionally carry out operations in this area, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) are also present. Outsiders hardly visit the region in spite of its natural beauty, and visitors to the National Park now enter from the south and stop at the Menik Ganga, not daring to cross.