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|Year and Month||15 Mar, 2015|
|Number of Days||1|
|Crew||Me and Indaka|
|Transport||By Bus, on foot and by tuk-tuk|
|Activities||Waterfall Hunting, Photography, Archaeology etc…|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
My mom got a shock when I stayed at home for two straight weekends in early March. She was so uneasy and kept asking if I was feeling ok. Most of my friends could finally get through to me on weekend as well due to this which gave them quite a shock too. By the third weekend, I was so exhausted, not physically but mentally. The rains had decided to give the whole country a fright falling unexpectedly right throughout and it revived my hopes for an early waterfall visit. So I decided to give it a go and visit some not-so-popular falls in Bandarawela.
This is when Indaka, one of the journalists came into my rescue. He’s been in contact with Ashan and through him I got to know Indaka who’s written many articles to an international magazine called “Sri Lanka – The Treasure Island”. He was willing to help me. He was born and bred in Bandarawela so there was nobody better suited to the job. On his invitation, I decided to go see some of the waterfalls lesser known by the public in and around Bandarawela.
So I took a bus from Nugegoda just after 3am on 15 Mar and arrived in B’Wela just after 8am. Indaka joined me around 8.30am and we headed along Punagala Road for our first of attractions for the day.
- Doolgolla Ella, Doolgolla.
- Obadella Ella, Obadella.
- Obadella RMV, Obadella.
- Ellathota Ella, Bandarawela.
- Pre Historic Land, Bandarawela.
- Arboretum, Haputale.
We took a tuk-tuk and headed along the Punagala road. The morning was chilly and the smell of wet earth wafting through the air was surprisingly good. This is another way to the iconic Lipton’s Seat. Usually people take the Haputale-Dambethenna road but this is also an alternative should you happen to start from Bandarawela. After about 5km, we came to a ‘Y’ junction where the Punagala road continued to the left while the right one goes to the Lipton’s Seat. It’s nicely carpeted and in good condition compared to the Punagala road.
I’ve been to Lipton’s Seat couple of times so decided to skip it for now. We carried on along Punagala road for about 3 more kms till Doolgolla where Doolgolla Ella is located. She’s at the edge of Craig Estate very close to the main road. You can see her from the road as well. There’s a shop and an estate signage just passing a bridge. That is where you have to stop and then take the tiny footpath to the right to reach the base of the falls that is only about 50m away.
This is a bathing place for the villagers and already some were there washing clothes and ready for a cold bath. Unfortunately, despite the continuous rains, the water levels were nothing much to talk about. Well, I know I’m now spoilt by those rich-looking girls and tend to be very critical. The diversion of water to the houses could be a reason for the lack of water because most of the upcountry villages are heavily dependent on streams like these for their day-to-day needs. We spent a little time there and came back to the tuk-tuk for our next attraction for the day.
We reached the turn off to Lipton’s Seat and stopped for a few pictures. Then we took the left side (the road downtown forks into two. To the right is the one we came up from Bandarawela but there is a left road which is a short cut to join the Obadella) road. On our way we saw another railway crossing with a unique bridge. These kinda bridges are very common along the upcountry railway line and they express a long history. After a few more pics we went to see the Obadella Falls.
She too is located right by the road and Badulla main road also runs a short distance away. When you’re coming from Haputale or even Diyathalawa, you will see the notice of Obadella RMV about 3km before the Bandarawela town. Just take that to see both the falls and the temple. The water levels were not so bad but the muddy base pool tarnished her beauty. She’s also being used as a bathing place and a vehicle washing place. On top of that, she too has fallen victim to the water diversion but it is unavoidable and understandable in these parts. However, I’m extremely against those mini hydro power plants that kill many beautiful falls for no good reason.
Then Indaka suggested we pay a visit to the Obadella RMV as there was an ancient image house full of paintings. He knew the chief monk so I was willing to go as we would get a chance to take pictures. Thanks to the heartless and brainless treasure hunters, we’re being deprived of visiting and exploring these ancient temples. Most of the monks live in fear (e.g. Maniyangama RMV) as many times their lives had come under grave threats from those greedy devils. We’ve had so many experiences and I’m now reluctant to go to a temple like that unless I could find someone who knows the chief monk.
Thankfully I had Indaka with me and we went into the temple to find it’s swarming with Sunday School kids. You have to go up the road about 2-3km passing a railway crossing to reach the temple. We went and spoke to the chief monk and got his permission to go see the image house. It’s about 20’X20′ in size and there were three officers from Archeological Department doing some restoration work for the peeling away paintings. They stopped their work and showed us around and what I saw amazed me to no end. For the first time, I noticed the door that leads to the inner area where the statue of Lord Buddha is painted with beautiful pictures very much similar to the walls. This is the first time I saw something like this but Indaka, being quite an expert in the subject, said that he’s seen them in temples in Gampola.
I’ll let you enjoy the pictures and judge for yourself whether it is worth to pay a visit to this temple. Unfortunately most of these paintings are at the verge of destroying due to the carelessness of the guardians and devotees who ignorantly burn oil lamps, incense sticks and do many other things which are harmful to these valuable paintings. I’ve seen in some temples, they have even wired inside the image houses very carelessly destroying many beautiful and valuable paintings. Unfortunately our archeological department is understaffed and underfunded that prevent them from looking after our heritage. If only we can get rid of the malnutrition of our archeological department, we’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, if it will ever happen is not a million dollar question, but a trillion dollar one because we live in a country where the heart of our heritage, National Museum was robbed by a superman and the boasting police force took months to capture the bugger but not being able to recover anything worthwhile.
Having thanked the three officers for their efforts and dedication to safeguard these priceless treasures for the future generations, we left for Bandarawela. Our next destination was Ellathota Ella.
Would you believe if I say there is a waterfall in Bandarawela town? I know most of you, who have gone past Bandarawela very many times, would just laugh at me feebly. However, if you take the Ambathenna Estate road about 1km before the Bandarawela town when coming from Haputale side, you will see a beautiful and quite a tall lass about 800m away.
The road is motorable but you have to take the right hand side concrete paved road after a few hundred meters as the left one is not in good condition. We wrongly took the left one but the Piaggio tuk-tuk, the reliable workhorse in the hill country, had very little trouble. You will have to walk about 50m or so to reach the base. She falls in two prominent parts to the left and right. When we went there was a traffic cop coming up the road having arrested 6 under aged couples from the falls. Apparently this is a popular destination for the courting couples but the police keep a very close eye.
Water level was compared to the other two was healthy but nothing exciting. However I was glad to have come and witnessed these beauties that are otherwise hidden from many. The Colombo-Badulla road ran above the falls a bit away but not many are aware of her. We then took our leave and headed towards a place where the archeological department had found pre-historical evidence.
Pre Historic Land
Take the Bandarawela-Welimada road and just passing the main playground, turn right near the church and go towards the vegetable wholesale market. Just before it, there is a left uphill road which is not good for a car. Take that and in a short time, you should be able to see the hallmarks of Met Department to the right. Go towards them and you will see an office to the right through a chained up gate. Just ask the permission from the duty officer to go in and look around. Having Indaka was a real bonus and we soon were inside the pre-historical evidence found land. They had unearthed sharp-edged weapons made of quartz in the digging but right now there was nothing but a few pits covered with overgrown grass.
There was no sign board or anything to inform the public about the value of the land or what they had found. It’s a real pity as this is not how things like these should be done. Apparently this tiny piece of land in the Indian Ocean has so much history hidden and we are only concerned about the main ones. Not tiny pieces of evidence like this. Indaka has taken some pictures of those weapons when they were unearthed and you could also see a picture in Ashan’s report.
We then got back to Bandarawela in the hope of finding some lunch. Indaka had some work after lunch so I had to go explore the Haputale Arboretum all on my own. We had a snack at Sinhagiri Bakers near the bus stand and then went to buy a lunch packet from Gemi Gedara, a good place close to Central College. Finally bidding farewell to my host, I got into a bus for Haputale.
I got off at Haputale before 1pm and started to walk back towards B’Wela. After about 300m, I saw the forest department office and the notice of the Haputale Arboretum. However the board has misspelled the word Arboretum putting “I” instead of “E”. Probably an oversight by whoever did the print. I took the road to the right that led to the office cum ticket counter. It was locked and nobody was in sight.
There was a sign posting saying that the forest department bungalow and the information center are 250m away. So taking the advice, I ordered my legs to go for it. The poor legs obliged without even a hint of a protest. I found this single story but big bungalow that looked wonderful. The information center was closed too sinking my hopes. I was on the verge of turning back when I saw someone fixing the roof of the bungalow. I went in and spoke to him. Even he had no idea that the office was closed but told me to walk around and come.
Well, I was free to go and started the walk along the well paved road. After a couple of hundred meters there was a sign pointing the trail to the right and I took it. The ground was wet and covered with many fallen leaves. Fortunately there were very few leeches in sight but none of them succeeded hitchhiking. There are many gigantic trees mainly turpentine and pine. They must be hundreds of years old. There was no one other than me and I enjoyed the tranquility inside. However being so close to the main road disturbs the peacefulness of the place as you can hear the horns blaring and the sound of the vehicles every now and then. Not to mention the growl of the iron devil.
I wish I had my traveling mates with me just to have a nice little chat. Largely the trail runs in a full circle and the path is clear. However there are some confusing trails branching off the main one and it’s a bit tricky to figure out the proper one at first. So just be careful and make sure you take the proper turnings and not take the wrong by routes. The signage said it’s 3.5km long and I walked leisurely and finished it in about hour and a half. I suddenly remembered the lunch packet in the bag and found a stream that was flowing ever so slowly to eat that. I found that I was really hungry and looking back, I hadn’t had any breakfast. After devouring the meal I bid farewell to this treasure and headed to Haputale hoping to catch a bus.
P.S. There was a sign nearby a huge Eucalyptus tree giving some important information about that tree. I’ve attached a pic of it but will mention the details for your benefit below.
Name : Eucalyptus Microcorys
Year of Plantation : 1957
Age as of 2009 : 52 Yrs
Height : 58m
Circumference : 4.7m
Estimated Bole Volume : 27,890 dm3 (27.89 m3)
Value of 1 dm3 : Rs. 40.74
Total Value as of 2009 : Rs. 1,136,238.60
Value of Growth in 1 Yr : Rs. 21,850.74
Value of Growth in 1 Month : Rs. 1,820.90
Value of Growth in 1 Day : Rs. 60.70
I got lucky and found a bus with a window seat. The bus had a digital clock that showed the temperature as well. It was nice and balmy 25 degrees and I settled in for a nap. The further we went the higher the temperature rose. It hit the 37-degree mark around Ratnapura and the journey became so uncomfortable until I reached home and stood under the shower for good half hour.
Well folks, that is about it and it turned out to be a good one. Hope you enjoyed it and planning to bring more of Bandarawela in the future.
Until then, keep traveling but be safe.
This is Sri signing off with a wave.