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|Year and Month||February, 2015|
|Number of Days||One Day Trip|
|Crew||02 People (Me & Murtaza)|
|Activities||Hiking, photography, getting lost intentionally|
|Weather||Awesome weather! (Not a single drop of rain)|
|Route||Colombo -> Udawalawa -> Thanamalvila – >Wellawaya And return on Wellawaya -> Koslanda -> Haputale -> Balangoda -> Colombo.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||Transportation
Food and water during the trail
Preparations and safety during the trail
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
A much awaited trip! Me and my good old hiking buddy Murtaza (matz), with whom I went to Great Western a couple of years back, were eagerly looking forward for this hike since a long time. But since the both of us were not able to find time this topic was dragging on and on endlessly until the last weekend, Sunday the 15th of Feb.
After a quick discussion with matz the other day, on Saturday, we decided that we’ll be taking the bus to Kadugannawa at 06:00 hrs from Colombo from where we have planned to reach Polaththapitiya tea factory. Upon getting down from Kadugannawa at 08:40 hrs we had breakfast at a shop nearby the station and was told that we have a more likely chance of catching transportation to Polaththapitiya from Pilimathalawa rather than from Kadugannawa since there are like only 02 busses operate at the moment and given the fact that it was a Sunday we may forever be waiting for a bus where as the driver is still fast asleep back home
Hence we once again checked with the Kadugannawa bus station master and was soon on our way to Pilimathalawa by bus. Upon getting down from Pilimathalawa we waited at the respective bus station for almost 30 minutes after which we decided to pool-in and to hire a tuk without wasting our time doing nothing but waiting for the bus. (We were told that there are more than 100+ busses towards Polaththapitiya but I guess since it was a Sunday, the chances were less)
The trishaw driver was an interesting person. He is working as a lab assistant in Colombo Medical Faculty and during the weekend he drives his trishaw back home in the Pilimathalawa vicinity. Also from him we got to know that a welfare fee of LKR 50,000.00 is required to pay by any new trishaw driver who would like to have a spot in the Pilimathalawa trishaw stand! (Just in case if any lakdasun members were considering on this opportunity)
So after a bumpy ride we arrived at the Polaththapitiya tea factory and commenced the trail towards Alagalla.
During the initial part of the trail you will be walking on a gravel road amidst the tea plantations, the estate workers community residences and a number of breathtaking view points with awesome sceneries as well. As you move on, the trail will become slightly more ascending and the path will lead you directly to a tea plantation. With a bref ascend you will reach your first forest patch where you will be required to ascend through the dense in a more challenging pace. A number of tree roots and washed up boulders will welcome you with a nice smile as you may wonder why you find it difficult to ascend
After clearing the forest patch you will reach the lower section of the Alagalla where (at the time of our visit) you will find a barren land with burnt “maana” bushes scattered all over the place. The ground appears to be on a gradual ascending elevation with rock debris all over the place which you are sure to trample if you do not watch where you step. To your left you will be able to identify quite a number of well known mountains such as the Hantane range, Bible rock and Uthuwankanda as well. Also, alongside the steep drop on the same side you will be able to locate the Ihalakotte train station and the railway track which winds its way around and through the mountain side as it progresses gradually gaining ground and elevation.
After a short break under a weary tree by a boulder, where once upon a time matz have spent a daring night all by himself camping under showers, we decided to go ahead with the tiring and the risky part of the hike.
The rock face climb! All went well since we put a lot of time to it, premeditating our moves up all the way up till the summit of Alagalla.
At the top it definitely was a rewarding 360 degree view! Thanks to the awesome weather we were able to have a good look at the landscape from the summit before heading back down
Before deciding to head back down the same rock face we wanted to check if it’s possible to descend from the later part of it. However after analyzing the face we’ve come to realize that it is a risk which is not worth taking, hence we decided on getting down through the same rocks that we climbed up from. Once the difficult part has been cleared we decided to sit on the ledge and have our lunch (bun with pre-BBQ chicken). After a much anticipated meal approx around 13:00 hrs we were heading back down. Luckily we were greeted by a group of local individuals who were on their way up for “fun”. We took the advantage of it and inquired from them about alternate routes available that would lead us directly down to the Ihalakotte train station since we did not want to get back on the same route we have climbed up from.
With the instructions and the directions received we were soon on our way around the rock (rock was towards our right side) alongside the impressive, inviting rock face which has quite the potential for a nice rock climbing session! (maybe some other time since we were not prepared for such). The trail appeared to be somewhat abandoned and there were plenty of random footpaths all the way. It was not until sometime that we realized the fact that we are now on the second mountain side at which we were grooling at from the summit of Alagalla. Remembering what the locals mentioned about, a “temple/shrine being built on the other rock” we decided to explore the land before taking the road down to the station as intended. After a brief walk through the forest patch and a little hopping over the rocks we arrived at the construction site.
The so called construction appears to be abandoned and the area has been deserted.
However we were intrigued by the great foot print that is being carved on the rock face which accompanies a few of the ancient “paali” inscriptions alongside
Since there were few individuals who were admiring the view at a distance we decided to approach them and to inquire about the findings. The group of people introduced themselves to us as “villagers who are in-charge of building the temple and the authority of the village”. As per to them their intention is to “protect the environment” and “develop the tourism sector” in the area. For some reason I didn’t buy any of the explanations or the stories they told us because it all seemed to me a “little out of the place” and “dodgy” (Maybe it’s just me). However later, my suspicion grew stronger when they confessed “earlier we lied to you. We are not in charge of building the construction. We are from a local environment committee here to make a report about the pollution on this mountain range. We lied to you earlier because we were not sure about who you (me and matz) people are” Anyway we didn’t give out much and decided to move on.
After receiving few directions from the group we were soon on our way down. The trail heading down was mostly boulders and uneven ground covered with dry leaves and earth debris. Later on we came across a chain of man-made concrete steps which gave me the thought that “this could become a place like Adams Peak given a couple of years, when the temple is being built at the top in honor of the foot print that is claimed to be carved back in the kings-days in preparation for Lord Buddha’s visit to the mountain side which didn’t go as planned” (Please correct me if more information is available about the foot-print since this was a new piece of knowledge for me and also on the 16th Feb when I informed Ashan about this he claims that it is his foot print! LOL)
Descending through the maana filled terrain and the occasional chain of concrete steps we arrived at a rubber plantation. We were basically following the footpath hoping that we would end up at the rail track or at the Ihalakotte station itself J We’ve been descending for more than 2 hours and yet the ground level seems to be way down and there was no end to the descend. We kept on following the path through the rubber plantation and we met a couple of locals who directed us towards a “short-cut”. They did give us a warning saying that the road is not cleared so watch out or you may get lost. And yes we were lost J After walking back and forth on the foot path for a while we decided to just go down with or without a path. By now matz have developed a little bit of a greed for bananas after passing by a couple of banana trees in the vicinity. Later he decided to let go of it since he felt that it will not be nice to go ahead with the greed 🙂
Afterwards we came across another house! This is the front view of the house. Later we assumed that it is some sort of a worshipping place or a “dewalaya” due to all the red color cloth strips and the garlends and all. But then again even this building appeared to be abandoned sometime back and felt a little spooky too P 🙂
We took the well paved way assuming it is the correct path but nope! Just a few yards down that path it was a dead end so yeah, again, off road it was 🙂
So we dashed our way down and finally around 18:00 hrs ended up walking through a number of village houses. We were under the assumption that we have reached Ihalakotte but to find out we are in the Gangoda vicinity (01 station before Ihalakotte). Upon reaching the village we were greeted by a number of welcoming villages and with the information received about the transportation possibilities we walked down the road towards the train station.
After evaluating our current condition and with the supportive information received from the station master at the Gangoda train station we decided to head 01 station up, to Ihalakotte and board the Badulla – Colombo inbound train from there back home.
Note that from the Gangoda train station you will not be able to board a train to Colombo or to Badulla. Closest train station is Ihalakotte (approx 2-3 km away, includes 3 tunnels)
All and all it was a pretty good entertaining trip and looking forward to go back for a little daring adventure along with a camping session 🙂