“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir
Sri Lanka is a small island and there isn’t much that you can miss here. So I was genuinely surprised when I stumbled upon Meemure (pronounced mee-moo-ray) while watching a local music video that was filmed there. Watching the towering trees shading pearlescent streams and hidden waterfalls was enough to pique my curiosity and feed my wanderlust so I launched on a Google search and needless to say, I fell instantly in love with it. The only question that kept nagging at me was ‘Why didn’t I know of such a beautiful gem from before?’ In fact, I couldn’t even find much about Meemure online so, if this is the first time you’ve heard of Meemure, I’m glad to introduce you to this remote village situated in the Knuckles Mountain Range in central Sri Lanka.
Meemure is located close to the border in between the Matale and Kandy district in the Knuckles Mountain Range which is some 200 km from Colombo. Dubbed as the remotest village in the island, Meemure is surrounded by mountains and trees of mesmerising beauty. In fact, the village got its name from the ‘Mee’ trees that encircle the place. The only access to the village however is via Hunnasgiriya, which is located about 50 km away from Kandy. From there, you will have to drive another 33 km up a very precarious road to finally reach Meemure. But trust me, when do step into this magical village, your precarious and tiresome ride will be every bit worth it.
An idyllic, sleepy village in the lap of the best of nature
If you’re a recluse, then Meemure is a dream come true. Tucked away from the hubbub of modern life, Meemure has no mobile or data connectivity to the outside world which means that you’re practically stepping back in time because Meemure is one of those rare gems where time has stood still. The village is home to only about 400 people but after that aforementioned local song that was filmed there and the controversies surrounding it, Meemure has risen in popularity both, among locals and tourists.
Steeped in rich history
For such a remote village, Meemure has a very rich history that dates back to more than 5000 years ago, back to King Ravana’s era of unwritten history. According to local folklore, Meemure is believed to be the place from where King Ravana was lifted off on the Dandu Monara (an air carrier shaped like a bird). Other stories relate that there was a tunnel within the mountain during the Rama-Ravana epic wars and King Ravana’s body was placed in the pyramid shaped Lakgela mountain.
It is also stated that King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe banished his daughter to Meemure in 16th century and owing to its remoteness and isolation, Meemure is said to have been a place of exile and people who offended the king were banished there. History aside, I can’t help but wonder that Meemure seems like a place too beautiful to send exiled people to.
Re-connect with nature
Every once in awhile, we need to power off from technology, get back to our roots and make offline memories and being the tech/mobile addicts that we are, the only way of actually disconnecting from technology is when we visit a place that has no mobile connectivity. A place like Meemure.
The only way of making calls is through CDMA phone and up until 2008, the village didn’t even have electricity. Most houses in Meemure are rustic clay houses and surrounded by chena cultivation, paddy fields, magnificent mountains, naturals pools and waterfalls and verdant trees, Meemure is a secluded treasure trove that is a refreshing change from our technology-ridden chaotic lives.
Free Fish Spa Treatments!
Given that Meemure is a village in a forest, you can expect to observe rich wildlife here. There are also some indigenous fish and frogs to observe and when you dunk your legs in the refreshingly cool waters in the natural pools, the fish will pamper your tired feet for a
perfect feet spa treatment. Watch out though because some of the larger fish aren’t that gracious with their little pecks.
Things to do
Snuggled in the midst of untouched nature, there are plenty of activities to entertain an avid nature lover in Meemure. From hiking and trekking along the dense trails and swimming in the pristine waterfalls and natural pools to climbing gigantic rocks and camping under the stars, Meemure offers many exciting and unforgettable things to do.
What to wear
Old fashioned stereotypes are still very much alive in Meemure so locals don’t take kindly to women dressed in shorts or crop tops that they deem as inappropriate clothing. But rest assured that they will treat with with heartwarming hospitality if your clothes aren’t eyebrow-raising.
For anyone who wants to spend some time away from their hectic lives, sit down and take a break in the midst of nature with only the bare necessities, then there is only one road and that’s the road that leads to Meemure. What you will find there will be achingly beautiful, timeless, serene and redolent – an untarnished living history that beckons to be explored.