Jathika Namal Uyana: Sri Lanka’s Rose Quartz Mountain Range
Khursheed Dinshaw (India)
When I was a child, my mother gifted me a pink pendant. At the time, I didn’t know that it was pink (or rose) quartz. The colour fascinated me and I wore the pendant for many years. As an adult, I learnt that pink quartz is regarded worldwide as the stone signifying unconditional love. It is also widely used for its healing qualities and is believed by some to heal feelings of pain, loss and grief.
Other than this, it is a popular semi-precious ornamental stone in jewellery. Poor quality quartz is also used in the glass making industry, and has been mined for centuries. In fact, the semi-precious stone is part of Egyptian and Roman history.
Recently, I got an opportunity to visit Sri Lanka and the highlight of my trip was the visit to the Rose Quartz Mountain Range, which is apparently South Asia’s largest pink quartz mountain range (Figs. 1 and 2). Known as Jathika Namal Uyana by Sri Lankans, the range can be reached after a simple hike through the Ironwood Forest from the ticketing counter, from where I purchased my entry ticket.
The entry to the forest was across the road from the counter, with a board mentioning that the forest is the largest in Sri Lanka. The Ironwood Tree (Mesua ferrea) is the national tree of Sri Lanka, where it is known as the Na tree. The walk through the forest was tranquil and, as I got nearer to the mountain range, the layer of earth that formed the path has become covered with scattered rose quartz.
A few steps ahead, the path opened to the sight I had been waiting for. In front of me was the Rose Quartz Mountain Range as far as the eye could see. Interspersed with Ironwood Trees, the range was pink coloured near me, and gradually turning to white in the distance (Figs. 3 and 4). This was expected as, in any rose quartz occurrence, certain portions are rose coloured and the rest are white.
I happily picked up rose quartz crystals in my palm and put them back once I had held them for a while (Figs. 5 and 6).
There is also a viewing deck on one of the ridges and visitors can hike up to the other ridges at their convenience (Fig. 7). The strata of quartz found in this mountain range comprise a ridge that runs on top of its formation and is apparently the largest formation of exposed quartz of Sri Lanka. The site dates back to the Precambrian era.
According to the rock formations and geological topography, the earth’s crust of Sri Lanka is divided into three major segments namely:
- The Highland Complex.
- The Vijayan complex.
- The Wanni complex.
The rose quartz at Jathika Namal Uyana belongs to the Wanni Complex.
The rocks, which are found in these three suites, include quartzite, granitic gneiss, marble, impure quartzite, hornblende gneiss and charnockitic biotite-gneiss. At Jathika Namal Uyana, the predominant rock is quartz (Figs. 8 and 10). By and large, Sri Lankan terrain is a metamorphic terrain and the vein appears to be of metamorphic origin, rather than having a hydrothermal igneous origin.
Dr H.S.M. Prakash, the Deputy Director General (retd) of the Geological Survey of India explained to me that:
… when quartz comes into its place like veins and veinlets, it is massive and rarely crystalline at times. But, when it undergoes deformation due to either higher temperature or pressure or both, it gets fractured, brecciated and pulverized. Jathika Namal Uyana has fractured and brecciated rose quartz”.
Its composition of SiO2 remains the same under local, regional or high grade metamorphism. The rose or pink colouration is due to the inclusion of trace manganese (Fig. 10).
Dr Prakash added that:
In some cases, very minor presence of ferric iron can also give this colouration. Minor presence of chromium can give green colouration as in fuchsite quartz. More ferric iron can give red colour as in jasper”.
|The Pink Quartz Mountain Range is located in the village of Ulpathgama in the district of Anuradhapura in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. An entry ticket for foreigners is $5, while for kids aged 6 to 12 years, the entry ticket is priced at $2. |
The Ironwood Forest and Pink Quartz Mountain Range is open from 7.00 am to 5.00pm on a daily basis. The only exception is full moon poya days and public holidays.
All photographs are by Khursheed Dinshaw.