Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Unbungalow : Maradanmaduwa Wilpattu.

It is very rarely that you can get a Wild Life department bungalow when you need it. Which means you are left with the fancy lodgings which has sprung up around the national parks. Whilst they are definitely more comfortable it just does not cut it for me. Nothing can compare to the bliss of waking up inside the jungle away from it all.
Fortunately there is a new lodging facility which is fairly new which has escaped the eyes of a majority of those wild life lovers who generally fight tooth and nail for the available slots of the Wildlife Department Bungalows.
How on earth is this possible? Because it is disguised as a dormitory!
To be honest it is a dormitory. A fairly large one at that because it can sleep 60 people. If I am correct that is the largest lodging facility available inside a national park in Sri Lanka.
The Exterior view of the Maradanmaduwa Bungalow
 By the beautiful Maradanmaduwa lake just 09 kilometers from the main entrance to the Wilpattu national park lies the stately Maradanmaduwa Bungalow. It is a misnomer to call it a bungalow. But somehow it just does not feel right to call it by any other name.
The beauty of this place is that even though it can accommodate 60 they let it out to small groups of people on an exclusive basis.Which means it is the next best thing if you are unable to book a bungalow.
The Maradanmaduwa Bungalow consists of two large upstairs blocks connected in one end in the shape of a V. Downstairs is the dining living and kitchen area and believe it or not a little meeting space with lecture chairs, podium and a small public address system - I did not check if it works though - making it a perfect venue for an official outing or retreat for a medium sized company.
The upstairs of each block consists of a large dorm with 30 bunk beds and communal toilets and showers. However the sleeping area is enclosed unlike the usual Wild Life Department bungalows which has only a half around it. Now if like me you are used to sleeping in the open this is going to create a problem. Also if all the bunk beds are full I am sure it can get really stuffy. But we were only a group of thirteen and the caretakers of the bungalow allowed us to put mattersses on the verendah and sleep which was far more comfortable. Also unlike in the usual bungalows the caretaker does not do the cooking if you come in a large group say twenty thirty people.You are supposed to cook your own food using their kitchen which seemed to have all the facilities of an industrial kitchen.. Personally I felt the caretakers could have taken care of the building better but I must admit taking care of such a large building is a tough task for just two people. But I must compliment them on their cooking skills which was outstanding. 
The moon reflecting off the lake 
The beauty of this place is in its location. Firstly it is situated in a picturesque setting. Secondly it is just a couple of minutes to the main entrance instead of a couple of hours – which is usually the case in Wilpattu. Thirdly even though it is close to the entrance it is reknowned for sightings of elephant, leopard and bear. It might not be the ideal bungalow for me but it is definitely a great alternative.

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