Soul of a Nation lives in its Villages
There is nothing that broadens your horizon and helps you learn and understand more about the world than travel. Immersing yourself in local culture, customs and traditions will make your journey unique and much more memorable. It is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and experience something that will surely enrich your life. The best way to make it memorable is to get off the beaten path and meet locals. Off the beaten path quite often brings you to rural villages where traditions are richer, hospitality at its best and nature is magnificent.
Eager to explore the real Sri Lanka? From quaint villages to friendly locals, delicious, fresh food, heartwarming hospitality, and unforgettable scenery - uncover some of Sri Lanka’s hidden charms by experiencing a way of life that is in many ways unchanged since ancient times.
Life and Culture in Meemure
The 80 or so rural communities that have lived for centuries on the edge of the Knuckles Wilderness are some of the most isolated rural villages in Sri Lanka. They have remained self-sufficient for centuries by choosing to coexist harmoniously with nature.
Meemure is one such village located 16 km north of Dumbanagala Chalet and has a population of about 450 people. The Village is surrounded by Knuckles Mountain wilderness with the towering triangular Lakegala Peak right on its doorstep. Meemure remained isolated till the year 2004. Only a footpath ran from Corbert’s gap to the village. Now there is an access road to the village from Hunnasgiriya via Corbet’s Gap.
Simple mud houses with open courtyards and iluk (cogan grass) roofs surrounded by 3-4 feet high quartz stone fences, miles of beautifully terraced paddy fields, farmers in sarongs driving water buffalo across those misty paddy fields surrounded by lush green forest, women in their colorful lungi’s working in the paddy fields or in their home gardens, barefooted children playing in the paddy fields, meandering rivers snaking through imposing mountains plunging over sheer cliffs into cascading waterfalls, Meemure is unique and picturesque.
Majority of the villagers are subsistence farmers who cultivate rice in their beautifully terraced paddy fields, supplemented with home gardens of vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs. Cardamom cultivation and Chena cultivation are also practiced. They also gather medicinal plants, nuts, seeds, honey, Kitul (Sweet sap from the Kitul tree) and other products from the surrounding forests. Farmers still practice traditional rice cultivation methods.
Many villagers are extremely curious about foreign visitors. It is not uncommon for villagers to invite people into their home for a cup of tea or even a home-cooked meal. Don’t worry about the language barriers. communicating through sign language and smiles is part of the fun. These villagers are down to earth and usually are very warm and welcoming to visitors who show a true curiosity about their lifestyle. Bring some small tokens for village children – stickers, pencils, erasers, chocolates, or some candy– and you will have new friends for life; friends who will eagerly show you the best places to go and the best swimming holes in the village.
While Sri Lanka’s big cities are largely globalized and traditional Sri Lankan culture is watered down by modern influence there, rural Sri Lanka has preserved many aspects of it. You may happen upon a traditional wedding, perhaps you’ll see villagers getting ready for an arm’s giving in order to honor their ancestor or it is time for Sri Lankan New Year celebrations. These special events and festivals are more exciting to celebrate in rural Sri Lanka, where you’ll likely experience the festival’s unique traditions, than in the cities, where festivals are often just another day.