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|Year and Month||May, 2014 (14th to 17th)|
|Number of Days||Four Day Trip|
|Crew||9 ( 5 kids & 4 adults )|
|Transport||Car & SUV|
|Activities||Family trip –sightseeing & hiking|
|Weather||Excellent weather – sunny and bright|
|Route||Home -> Kottawa -> Expressway -> Gelanigamaexit -> Kiriella -> Ratnapura -> Wevelwatta -> Balanagoda -> Bandarawela -> Ella -> Namunukula|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
The five-day holiday following Vesak Poya was a long awaited event in the calendar and we planned to venture into an area that we have never explored – Namunukula and Ella. Ella of course we have passed many times en route from Wellawaya, but Namunukula was a totally new destination.
We left home around 4.30am; took the Expressway up to Gelanigama Exit and proceed along the winding Panadura-Ratnapura Road. It being the Vesak Poya there was an early morning Kiribath Dansala on the way. We reached Ratnapura around 7.30 am having stopped at a few places for breakfast and tea.
We decided to take Malwala-Wevelwattha-Rassagala route to reach Balangoda as we hoped the Wevelwattha waterfalls would be at their best after the recent rains. Though the road condition is not so great and the route is longer, the bonus is the number of waterfalls you pass along this road. We stopped at the first major fall “Dehena Ella” (75m), having travelled almost 25 kms and passing a number of mini cascades including the twin “Hal Falls”. But Dehena Ella did not impress us as much as we hoped. May be Ratnapura did not receive much rain as we in Colombo did over the past few days. Yet it was lovely as ever and the kids had a grand time trying to catch fish in the shallow pools at the base.
Though Pandi Oya Ella is just 2 kms away from Dehena Kanda it is not visible from the main road and one has to turn back to get a glimpse of it. Then we did the de-tour to see Alupotha Ella(60m) about 5 km away and on the way the Beruwatha Falls was clearly visible at a distance.
The next attraction was Beruwatha Ella(50m), about 4 kms away, and for that you have to take a short walk away from the road. It had more water than both Dehena and Alupotha falls. From there it is nearly 20 kms to Balangoda and it is a very scenic drive passing Rassagala. We passed a few more cascades along the road and one was more prominent – I guess it is Wewel Ella – which we saw at a distance.
Finally we reached A4 at Balangoda around 10am, having spent almost 3 hours chasing the waterfalls. At Halpe there was a manihot & Kochci sambol dansala where they served even plain tea with hakuru. We all sat in the dansala and enjoyed the feast in kenda kole and then proceeded non-stop passing Bandarawela, Kumbalwella and took the turn-off to Ella. We reached Ella around 12.30 and from the junction took the road leading to Passara. Its 28kms from Ella to Passara and you reach Namunukula after 14kms along that scenic road.
Buildings Department Circuit bungalow is just one km away from Namunukula town, on the main road to Passara itself. Undoubtedly it is at the best view point in the area overlooking the valley towards Buttala. It had been put up during President Premadasa’s time and he had frequented the place to supervise the work during Buttala Gam Udava period. It has four rooms in all (one reserved) with a large dining area, a pantry and workers’ quarters. A hexagon shaped large room with a panoramic view with fixed glass around and a fire place is being used as the sitting room. But I should say the bungalow has certainly seen better days. The interior of the bungalow is well maintained but outside is deteriorated and the garden neglected. There are cement benches right around the garden inviting anyone who wishes to enjoy the scenery of the never-ending rolling mountains.
Another family who joined us at Namunukula and altogether there were 10 kids ( five girls and five boys ) in the age range of 5-13 in our group. The bungalow keeper, Ranabahu, warmly welcomed us. We were not tired even after the long journey as dansalas along the way refreshed us. There was even a watermelon dansala passing Bandarawela – may be unique to the area. Ranabahu suggested that we visit “Bambaragala Pathana” before lunch as it might rain in the evening. The name was familiar to me as I have read about it in Lakdasun and knew it was just 1km away from town and it was anyway in my “to do” list. So we readily agreed as none of us was hungry.
Ranabahu led the way in his bike and we followed. We took the right turn from “Club Junction” (just 500m passing the bungalow) and as you pass the junction you come across a temple at another “Y” junction and you have to take the road going downhill. You can see the “WeveKele Grama Niladhari” sign board on the wall of a nearby boutique. We drove along the narrow bumpy road for about 2-3 kms until we reached the forest patch. A four-wheel drive or a vehicle with a high ground clearance can tackle this road. If not, there are three-wheelers at “Club Junction” that will take you there.
As predicted, to our dismay it started raining while we were half-way through but soon the sky cleared and the sun was shining brightly. We reached the forest patch after about ½ hour’s drive and parked our vehicles near the barbed-wire fence and walked along the washed away path to the “Bambaragala Pathana” and must say that we were amazed with what we saw.
After we passed the forest patch we came to a large clearing of the size of a huge playground – ideal to play cricket. From what I gathered, Bambaragala Pathana is related to Rama-Ravana legend and is said that a fire ball from the battle landed here and destroyed all vegetation. Nothing grows here other than the recently planted trees the villages call “gas kadju”. It is not a natural vegetation and is clear that they have been planted – the trees stand neatly in rows at equal distances.
It is a relaxing walk uphill under the shady trees to the view point where you get a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. There is also a badly washed off wider path that can be tackled by a serious for-wheel drive leading to this point.
You do not get a 360’ view from the view point, but you get a 270’ view and its breathtaking. I was told that one can see lights of Mattala run-way from this point in a clear night. (How often it is lit is a different matter!)
What I like best about this palce is its not limited to one view point but there is a circular path going right around the hill and as you walk along the edge of the hill your view changes dramatically – you can see Namunukula area, Buttala area, Monaragala, Wellawaya, Wewekele , Bibilegama ect. depending on where you are.
At one place on top there was part of a stone wall and there were two tombstones as well – all indicating human habitation not so long ago.
We were shown the place where it is said that artillery guns were erected aimed at the Bibilegama village to defend any attacks coming from the ancient Sinhala village.
We also came across a tiny water stream on top. May be the beginning of a major water way.
We could not get enough of this lovely place, but we had to leave as we haven’t had our lunch yet and the sky was threatening again. So finally we left around 3pm promising to come back the next morning to explore further and to let the kids play in this heaven on earth.
We had a hearty lunch (brought from home) and had a relaxing evening and as preditcted it was pouring outside with thunder and lightening. We were really glad that we made it to the pathana before lunch.
It seized raining around six and the view from the bungalow was breathtaking. We spent hours in the garden till dusk fell and the lights of Pelawatta Suger facotry was clearly visible at a distance. No one felt like going indors as the Vesak moon came up and lit the mountains. It was a serene sight.
The kids had a grand time in the sitting area singing and playing cards in the warmth of the fire place. After a scrumptious dinner we all went to bed with blissfull memories of the long day.
The next morning sun came up brightly and there was no sign of rain at all. The Morning view from the bungalow was stunning. We enjoyed a stroll in the garden enjoying the morning breeze. Initially we had planned to visit Badulla – only 30kms away – to cover Dunhinda and Bogoda Bridge. But Bambaragal Pathana changed our plans. We decided to have a relaxing morning there and let the kids play around that heaven on earth. The day was clear and bright and after a filling breakfast of kiribath we left for the pathana again.
We started with “Tin Kadanna”. Actually we wanted to teach the kids our favourite game of yesteryears, which was totally new to them and they too enjoyed it. It ended with a game of Cricket while some relaxed under the shade and I took the foot path going right around the mountain enjoying the view once again.
After hours of play we bid good bye to the Pathana and drove back passing the town in search of a “ice paella” for a refreshing bath. There were two peellas by the roadside and the fathers and sons had a bath while moms and daughters came back to the bungalow.
After lunch the third party that joined us at Namunulula left for Colombo and the rest of us decided to go towards Passara just for a scenic drive as it was too late to see the mini worlds’ End. From the Bungalow it is 14kms to the 10th Mile Post Junction where Passara-Namunukula Raod meets Badulla-Monaragala main road. From there it is 16kms to Badulla and only 3kms to Passara. It was a very scenic road along the tea estates and we passed many mini cascades as well. We also passed the newly built “Puhulwaththa Reservoir” on our way.
Passing Passara we took the turn towards Madolsima and drove along the scenic road enjoying the evening view. We could clearly see the Namunukula range from that road.
We did not drive far as it was getting and were back in the bungalow by 7pm once again to witness the moon lighting up the mountains.
After a hearty breakfast of rotti we thanked the bungalow keeper and the cook and left for Ella promising ourselves another visit to that wonderful place.
On our way back we stopped at Ballaketuwa and viewed the Bambaragala Falls (Ravana Ella) at a distance. You can see the top of the falls from that view point. Our plan was to visit the Nine Arch Bridge and Demodara Loop in the morning.
We reached Ella Station around 9.30 and inquired the train time table. The Station Master was very helpful and suggested that we hike up to Demodara and catch the 11.45 train from there for the return journey. Some were eager to do the 7km train hike and some were not. So we decided to do the 2.5km up to the Nine Arch Bridge and return. We were told to hurry up as we could see Udarata Menike from Baddulla on the bridge around 10.45. We hurried along the train track in the morning sun to catch her on the bridge.
We had to hurry the last lap as we could hear the train at a distance. We managed to cross the tunnel in time and wait for “Menike” to cross this marvelous bridge. It was a grant sight to see her gracefully coming along the bridge. Though I have crossed this bridge a number of times it was my first time watching a train crossing it from a distance.
The kids were eager to continue the hike up to Demodara but one mum was tired so the dads had to walk back to Ella to bring the cars to a point very close to the bridge. There were many coming along that path to see the bridge. This permitted the kids to go down and explore the underneath of the bridge. To my surprise the little stream of water flowing underneath could not even cover my feet. Kids had a lovely time getting down and climbing up to see the next train on the bridge around 11.45. Finally around 12noon we got the call that the dads had reached the path and we all bid good bye to the giant and walked downhill along a foot path by the railway to meet them. It seems to be a popular place as many vehicles were parked and people walked uphill to see the bridge. There was also a signboard erected by the Provincial authority. It is a by-road between Ella and Demodara and you have to travel about 5kms to reach the path. But undoubtedly the 2.5km hike is a much better option to reach the bridge.
We proceeded to Demodara and visited the railway station, but it was closed as there were no trains for a while. We only had a view from outside and had to satisfy ourselves. We could see the tunnel and a few pictures outside.
We drove passing the station to see the “Black Bridge”. There was a river gushing underneath inviting us for a bath but we turned back as we thought it would be too risky and drove back towards Ella abandoning our idea of a river bath.
We were back in Ella by 1.30 and went straight to our resting place for the day – Okreech Cottages – in the heart of the town. While going through the accommodation options in Ella, I shortlisted a few, but still did not trust booking.com to make a commitment – though it was cheaper that way. I’d rather rely on a genuine review on Lakdasun. So, on our way to Namunukula we stopped for a while at Ella and visited the few places in my list. Undoubtedly Okreech was able to impress us and I should say all pictures shown on the web were genuine and we made our booking without second thoughts.
It is a recently opened property, just 200ms away from the town. They have four cottages – each with two rooms – up and down. Rooms are equipped with a king-sized bed, a mini-fridge and tea-making facilities. Interior is tastefully done using old railway sleepers for all furniture items. They have used railway sleepers for the stairway also. The price was quite reasonable too. They do not have cooking facilities, nor do they provide food, but that is no issue as restaurants and cafes are at your door step – including the internationally reputed “Café Chill” restaurant.
We were tired after our morning expedition and had our lunch (prepared by the cook in Namunukula Bangalow) in the garden benches and retired to our rooms to rest for a while.
We all overslept and it was almost 5 in the evening when we left for “Little Adams Peak”. The turn off is almost 3kms on the Namunukula Road, adjoining “Ella Flower Gardern Resort”. There is a signboard opposite the turn off. We could see the washed off estate road that we had to tackle and asked the three-wheelers parked nearby whether they could take us. It seems to be the norm and they agreed for Rs.200/= one way. We took two three-wheelers and climbed the estate road and they took us up to the point where the road is blocked with a wooden gate. We walked the rest of the path enjoying the breathtaking view of Ella rock and winding Ella-Wellawaya Road. We passed the 98 Acre Hotel and it looked like a paradise in a jungle.
The kids took the fleet of steps uphill while we took the path going around and they were on top long before us – making fun of our slow pace. However it was almost dark when we reached the top and we watched the fading sun making beautiful patterns in the sky. We could not enjoy the view for long as it was getting dark and we took the downhill path along the steps. The lit up hotel and Ella town looked like a fairyland in the sky. We called back the three-wheelers and they brought us to where we parked our vehicles using a different route this time.
We were back at our cottage by 7.30 and after refreshing ourselves walked to the town for dinner. It being off-season there were not many tourists but “Café Chill” was packed with tourists. Ella has many options for dinner – there are cafes serving international cuisine as well as “Roti Huts”.
Being the last day of our long journey we got up a little early, packed our stuff and left Okreech by 8am. We promised ourselves to be back soon as we felt we did not have enough time to explore Ella. We drove towards Wellawaya enjoying the stunning view. We could see Ella Rock on our right and Little Adams Peak on our left.
After a short drive of 6-7kms we reached Bambaragala Ella/Ravana Ella by the road side. There were large crowds even so early in the morning enjoying it’s beauty. We too stopped there to witness its glory.
Just passing the waterfall there was a little restaurant serving hot-hot parata with a variety of curries. Having filled our tummies we started our return journey as we had a commitment to be in Colombo by 2pm. Therefore, it was an uneventful, non-stop long journey of five hours. However, our hearts were with filled with blissful memories of our Ella-Namunukula expedition.
Thanks for reading.