Commemorating the Thoppigala Heritage Park and monument on its first anniversary
As declared by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1983, the 18th of April marks the annual celebration of World Heritage Day. This international initiative aimed at raising public awareness on locations and landscapes of international, national, and local relevance and the importance of conservation.
2014’s theme of ‘Heritage of Commemoration’ inspired by the centennial of the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918) highlights that sites and monuments not only serve an integral role in commemorating and conveying society’s invaluable cultural inheritance and social memory, but mark significant moments in human history.
Thoppigala marks a key moment in Sri Lankan history as the location of a momentous victory by the Sri Lankan armed forces. In honour of this historic turning point which allowed the armed forces to triumph over the erstwhile terrorist stronghold, Dilmah Conservation supported the establishment of the Thoppigala War Memorial and Heritage Park proposed by the Eastern Command of the Sri Lanka Army, following the conclusion of the armed conflict in 2009. This area which rose to prominence as the location of the ‘Eastern Theatre’ due to its strategic importance during the war, is also of particular ecological importance and home to a diverse array of flora and fauna including a number of rare birds and butterflies, along with bears, elephants and leopards.
The Park was conceptualised and designed by Architect Nihal Bodhinayake, who sought to highlight the end of the war as a victory for all Sri Lankans. The memorial is dedicated to those members of the Sri Lankan armed forces and police who lost their lives in the country’s quest for peace. The memorial is dedicated to those members of the Sri Lankan armed forces and police who lost their lives in the country’s quest for peace.
Thoppigala is not only as an ode to the peaceful integration of all communities, but a place of learning aimed at educating visitors on the cultural, environmental and strategic significance of this area with a special focus on conservation. Thus, the first ever Dilmah Conservation Heritage Centre offers both a visual impression of the Eastern Theatre, but an overview of Sri Lanka’s environment and rich biodiversity through interactive three-dimensional models.