I have always been drawn towards off-the-beaten-path destinations; places where the natural beauty remains pristine and unspoiled by the footprints of mass tourism.
During my 5-week trip to Sri Lanka, I discovered such a hidden gem – Meemure, a small village deep in the heart of Sri Lanka.
In this guide, I will share everything you need to know about Meemure, from its history and how to reach there, to why this remote village is absolutely worth a visit.
Meemure – The Most Remote Area in Sri Lanka
Meemure is a remote village in Sri Lanka located in a jungled valley of the Knuckles mountain range. It is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and forests.
The village has electricity with limited mobile service. However, you won’t need it. If you’re planning to go to this remote area, you probably want to experience life away from the constant hustle and digital distractions.
You’ll get that plus the best landscapes, the serenity of life, and the warmth of the locals. And if you’re lucky like me, a peacock just randomly dancing on the rice fields! I had the same welcome dance, days later in Udawalawe.
Due to its isolated location and population of about 400 residents, Meemure has retained its traditional way of life, providing a glimpse into the rural and indigenous lifestyle of Sri Lanka.
Locals in the village rely on staple crops like pepper, cardamom, paddy, and ginger, and they would be happy to share their simple yet delicious local foods during your stay with them.
Visiting Meemure offers an authentic, enriching experience with its simple way of life.
A Brief History of Meemure
The history of this village is as rich as its landscapes. Meemure is named after the ‘Mee’ trees that surrounded the place.
According to local tales, the village dates back almost 5,000 years ago. Lakegala, a mountain located in Meemure, is believed to have been owned by the legendary King Ravana from the Indian literary epic Ramayana.
Another story says that Meemure belonged to a Veddah named ‘Benduruwa,’ which was taken away from him by King Vimaladharma and handed over to Herath Hamy, whose descendants are believed to be still living in the village.
An even older legend dates back to 700 B.C., the era of King Vijaya, who is believed to be the forefather of the current population of Sri Lanka. Vijaya arrived on the island from India with his followers and saw the shapely primitive woman Kuweni.
He took Kuweni as his informal wife and she gave birth to two children. However, when Vijaya formally married a royal princess from India, he banished Kuweni from his castle.
Kuweni settled into the forest with her children. Legend has it that the indigenous people of Sri Lanka originated from Kuweni’s children.
In the 16th century A.D., Sri Lanka was invaded by the Portuguese. The country was subsequently conquered by the Dutch and English over the following centuries. According to history, the people of Meemure supplied saltpeter (potassium nitrate) for the gunpowder used by the Kandyan kingdom in their resistance against the invaders. The cave from which the saltpeter was mined still exists to this day.
During the same era, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe banished his daughter with a group of men, one of whom he believed his daughter was having an affair with, to the village of Meemure.
The two princesses committed suicide upon hearing of the King’s capture, and the royal jewelry, that they wore, is said to be in the possession of traditional families in the village.
My Journey to Meemure
After my beautiful experience in the hidden city of Jaffna, I wanted to look for more remote areas of Sri Lanka. My search led me to Meemure. It was well recommended by locals on a Sri Lanka Facebook.
The idea of a remote village nestled amidst a jungle and rice fields fascinated me. How can it not? I was so excited and at the same time a little scared. I’ll be a solo female traveler in a jungle in a remote village!
But my excitement outweighed my fear so I looked for a well-reviewed guide, and booked a 3-day adventure. I was set. Booking a tour is the least I can do for the peace of mind of my mother.
On the day itself, I was picked up on time. Because I’m the only one on the tour, the guide mentioned that we will only use a motorbike, which I’m perfectly okay with. However, to my surprise, a safari jeep awaited me, reserved exclusively for my journey into Meemure.
As soon as we started driving, my guide, Lojith started telling me captivating stories about Meemure – its breathtaking vistas, simple way of life, and the wonders awaiting my exploration. We made a quick stop on the road to buy a freshly cooked roti, a delightful local treat.
Our first destination before reaching Meemure was the Dothalugala trail, within the Knuckles Conservation Forest, where Meemure is located.
We went on a hike and the view is spectacular. It’s a hike inside a forest. The only bummer is this trail is full of leeches. Although they are not deadly, they sip so much blood that in the end, my feet were almost covered with blood.
I was uncomfortable the whole hike. I actually requested this trail to be added to our itinerary upon reading about it but because of the leeches. I would not recommend it. Just focus on the hikes in Meemure.
After Dothalugala, we headed to Meemure with a stop with a local family where we ate roti. I even saw how they are locally prepared. I even played with their kid—such an experience.
And finally, we arrived in Meemure. I was welcomed by a family who showed me to my room in a mud house. It was a room without a mattress, but my guides kindly gifted me a mattress and a pillowcase. This reminded me of my stay at Vipassana.
The next day, we hiked into the jungle. We first walked to the rice fields, and right there and then, we saw a peacock dancing! It was just the beginning. We ventured further into the jungle, where I encountered beautiful rivers, plants, and even some birds. My guide mentioned that they sometimes spot wild animals here.
We continued our hike until we reached the waterfall. What a scene it was! We stayed and swam, and I even meditated there. It was such an incredible experience.
Afterward, we returned, had a local lunch overlooking the rice fields, and then visited the only pure mud house left in the village. All houses used to be made of pure mud, but over time, the villagers mixed it with other materials to improve stability.
The following day, we had to leave early for my train ride to Ella. On the way, I was treated to yet another mesmerizing sunset. I enjoyed every bit of my stay in Meemure. I wish I had stayed longer.
What to do in Meemure?
Nothing. Do nothing! Really! You’ve come a long way to this remote village to escape the busy streets of Sri Lanka (or your life) to slow down. Do slow down and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Take time to watch the sunrise or sunset, sleep, nap, savor your food slowly, sit in silence, and enjoy the beauty of nature. That’s what you really came here for anyway.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are a lot of things to do in Meemure.
Explore the village: Take a walk through the village. Stroll through the rice fields, and mud houses, and interact with the friendly locals. Although they barely speak English, they will try their best to communicate with you, mostly do it by showing things in their village.
Hike to Lakegala: Lakegala is visible in most areas of Meemure. Due to its remote location, the trail offers undisturbed and abundant flora and fauna. It also has breathtaking panoramic views during sunrise or sunset. Fair warning, the hike is very challenging so make sure you are fit and get a local guide. There have been accident reports in Lakegala and some people have died.
Try Local Cuisine: From aromatic rice and curry to exotic fruits and spicy sambals, the simplicity of their cuisine shouldn’t be judged as it’s very tasty! I really enjoyed my dining experience with a local family in a homestay.
Rivers and Waterfalls – Meemure has pristine rivers and stunning waterfalls that make for idyllic natural escapes. The rivers and waterfalls are also some of the cleanest water in Sri Lanka. During one of our forest hikes, I even did a waterfall yoga. As there are very few travelers in this village, chances are high that you’ll have the waterfall all to yourself!
Explore the Jungle: One of the best things about being in Meemure is being in dense forests, sounds of birds, and witnessing the rich biodiversity of the area. I’ve never been in an area where you casually see a peacock roaming around! It’s a chance to connect with nature and appreciate the unspoiled beauty of Sri Lanka’s wilderness.
Walk Through Lush Rice Fields: My homestay has its own rice field beside their house. Every afternoon, I have been spending my time sipping tea and watching the sunset. The view is absolutely breathtaking! On my first sunset here, no kidding, I felt so emotional, tears fell as I was reminded how grateful I am for being alive.
Visit the Unique Pure Mud House in Meemure: Lojith, my guide told me about a pure mud house located in the village. All the houses in Meemure were built with mud and other natural materials. However, the other mud houses have already been mixed with cement to enhance their stability. We were able to visit the exterior of the mud house and had a friendly conversation with the owners.
Where is Meemure Located?
It is located near the border between Kandy District and Matale District in the Knuckles Mountain Range. Meemure is approximately 175 km from Colombo and from Kandy, it is nearly 75 km.
A better base for Meemure would be Kandy which takes around three hours by car. You can reach the village within a day even if you choose to backpack and take public transportation.
How to get to Meemure?
Getting to Meemure requires a bit of an adventure, but it’s worth every hour of it, not to mention. Here’s a guide on how to reach the village:
1. Colombo to Kandy:
As mentioned, if you’re coming from Colombo, you can reach Kandy by train, bus, or taxi.
- By Train: Trains run regularly from Colombo Fort Railway Station to Kandy.
- By Bus: Buses are also available from Petta (Bastian Mawatha) Bus station.
- By Taxi: Though I don’t have any experience getting scammed by taxis here, I usually prefer booking ride-sharing apps for transparent pricing. You can also book Pick Me or Uber (Grab is not yet working in Sri Lanka).
2. Kandy to Hunnasgiriya:
From Kandy, you need to head to Hunnasgiriya, the only way to get to Meemure. Hunnasgiriya is a small town 50 kilometers away from Kandy.
- By Private Vehicle: The most convenient option is to hire a private vehicle, such as a taxi or a tuk-tuk, to take you to Hunnasgiriya. The drive takes around 2-3 hours with beautiful scenic views.
Alternatively, you can hire a private transport from Kandy directly to Meemure — this is what I did. More about this later.
- By Bus: Some buses run from Kandy to Hunnasgiriya. Look for the Mahiyanganaya bus at the bus stop near the railway station.
3. Hunnasgiriya to Meemure:
From Hunnasgiriya, Meemure is only 33 kilometers away. Ask your bus conductor to drop you at the Meemure van. If you miss it, you can hire a tuk-tuk to the van station or walk for 1 kilometer.
- Meemure Van – The van from Hunnasgiriya to Meemure costs 200 rupees and departs around 2 PM, arriving in Meemure around 5-6 PM. Try to get to the right-hand side, the views are really stunning!
Alternatively, book an adventure tour with a company. I usually do things on my own, especially for remote places so I have enough time exploring the place. But because I plan to stay in a remote village in the forest for days, I just need to give my mom some peace of mind.
Kidding aside, I booked a tour with The Border Adventures. They arranged everything from my pick up in a hostel in Kandy (btw, I highly recommend this for backpackers!!) to my stay in Meemure and even guided me on hikes in Dothalugala and inside the forest.
They were known by the villagers so I was able to have some conversation with the locals. They also know hikes to local spots like this wonderful waterfall. I had a good experience with them and the only thing I would improve is that I should have stayed longer! This is not a sponsored post and if you book with them, say hi for me!
Is Meemure Worth Visiting?
My experience in Meemure was beyond what I expected. Though I went there to experience the remote life in Sri Lanka, I experienced more. The breathtaking landscapes, unique culture, and warm hospitality of the villagers gave me an authentic and meaningful experience of Sri Lanka.
Planning for a trip to Meemure?
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I will go back to Sri Lanka and Meemure will always be part of the reasons why. How about you, did Meemure inspired you to go off-beat in Sri Lanka?