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|Year and Month||26 Jul, 2014|
|Number of Days||1|
|Crew||Athula, Tony and Me|
|Activities||Waterfall Hunting, Photography, Archaeology, etc…|
|Weather||Gloomy and occasional showers…|
|Route||Maharagama->Avissawella->Ginigathhena->Nawalapitiya->Harangala via Hapugasthalawa->Kumbaloluwa->Thawalanthenna->Ramboda->Pussellawa->Ulapane via Pussellawa-Ulapane Road->Nawalapitiya->Back to Maharagama same route.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Well, it’s been a long run of waterfalls this year and just realized I’ve written 6 other Tour de Waterfalls before this and was very much surprised by it. All in all, it’s so far been a remarkable year for me but sadly, due to the decrease in the rains (anyway this time the rains were few and far between) this might be the last of waterfalls hunts of South Western Monsoons. I’ll have to hope at least this time; the North Eastern Monsoons will arrive on time to cover the falls on that side of the mountains.
After a long pause, I managed to convince Tony finally to join with us for a trip with the permission of his boss. Atha too joined with us but Sheham, our longtime partner, couldn’t make it due to various reasons. It would’ve been nice had we all four could do this but it wasn’t to be. I don’t now have to tell you this is gonna be all about waterfalls (well the name suggest that much) and will come to the point without dragging any more.
Atha picked me around 3.45am on 26th July and we then got Tony on board and took the Avissawella-Ginigathhena Road. It was good to be back with the old couple as it’s always full of many stories, most of them are hilarious. They kept at it right throughout and I hardly managed to get a word in edgeways. The Kelani River looked placid in the wee hours and the mist hung over her like a veil. We enjoyed her company most of the way. Reaching Nawalapitiya, the skies looked grey, heavily laden with rain clouds and I was thrilled as it meant more water for the waterfalls. You’d be surprised how low the water levels become even after a few days of rain.
This proved to be the case with Ramboda and surrounding waterfalls despite there had been a lot of rains even during last week. We took the Hapugasthalawa Road and then turned onto Harangala. As soon as we turned, there was a nice shop and we stopped for breakfast where they served hot, hot Coconut Rotti with mouthwatering Lunu Miris, delicious Kola Kenda and authentic Peni Walalu. We all stuffed ourselves to the tip and were on our way passing the Hapugasthalawa Tank.
- Harangala Falls, Harangala.
- Gane Ela Falls, Thispane.
- Wewahena Falls 1, 2 & 3, Kalapitiya.
- Devathura Falls, Ramboda.
- Ramboda Oya Centre Falls, Ramboda.
- Ramboda Oya Upper Falls, Ramboda.
- Ramboda Oya Lower Falls, Ramboda.
- Puna Falls, Ramboda.
- Kandamulla Ella, Ramboda.
- Mahaweli Maha Seya, Kotmale.
- Dehadu Kadulla, Kadadora.
- Kotmale Dam & Reservoir, Kotmale.
- Nugawela Suspension Bridge, Kotmale.
I’ve seen a pic of this on Google maps under places and tried many times to go there but it looked a bit of a detour. However, this time I got lucky as we took Hapugasthalawa-Harangala road instead of Nawalapitiya-Gampola as we’d initially planned. It’s about 12km to Harangala from Nawalapitiya and the road is narrow but in good condition, not to forget that this is one of the most scenic routes in SL. Hope you’ve ready my Tour de Waterfalls 6 as it too was a very scenic drive from N’Pitiya to Dimbula. This is easy to be missed out to the casual eye as not many are aware of a waterfall here. You’ll see the left turn off towards Kotmale Dam in Harangala Junction and soon as you passed it there will be two bridges located close to each other within about 50-100m.
The waterfall is found underneath the second bridge. Pass that and after another 50m or so, there’s a narrow path that goes downhill. Take this and you’ll reach the base of the falls where the Harangala School is also located. There wasn’t a great deal of water but we enjoyed this newfound girl.
Gane Ella Falls
We continued on along this scenic road where Mahaweli Maha Seya and Kotmale Reservoir kept up with us most of the time. The view would’ve been splendor had the weather was clear but gloomy skies made the pics bleak. Yet this didn’t stop us enjoying the view any less. We found a shop with a view point of Kotmale Reservoir and stopped for a cuppa tea. The reservoir bore very little water and wonders what had happened to all the rain.
Passing this, we reached a shop with plenty of Durian for sale in Thispane Kanda area and Atha wanted to go see. It was great that we stopped there as there was a somewhat larger falls behind the shop. An old uncle (as old as Tony) said it’s called Gane Ela. We didn’t buy any Durian in the end but took many pics of the falls to the dismay of the shop owner.
We saw a few cascades around Rogersangama and it’d be full of them when rains are in full blast.
Waterfalls of Wewahena
Unfortunately we couldn’t visit Pusulpitiya Raja Maha Viharaya which is at Hedunuwewa Junction passing Kalapitiya, a major town found on this road. We continued till we reach the bridge across Kotmale Oya which is about 100ft in length. This is where Kotmale Oya joins forces with Pundalu Oya but water levels were considerably very low, especially of Kotmale Oya.
Having stopped to take a few pics, we heard a roar under the bridge and leaning against the railing, I saw this nice little waterfall underneath. It looked as if there had been a falls before but the massive foundation of the bridge had more or less made it less curvy in shape. Now she’s falling after the water collects at the base of the bridge like over a wall.
About 500m from here is another bridge and we stopped once again as this is where the Pundalu Oya crosses the road and further down joins with Kotmale Oya. She had considerably more water and looking towards the river we saw about 100m away a beautiful falls. My heart leaped and we jumped out of the vehicle and took the footpath along the river bank to find yet another waterfall hidden to the people going along the road. A bit upstream were the main section and what a beautiful girl she turned out to be. Water level was good and we spent some time photographing her. Just be careful coz the rocks are very slippery here.
We then took the path that went a bit uphill to come on top of the falls we saw. In fact there were 3 falls falling close to each other. The one closer to the road had very little water, one in the middle was the healthiest and the other side one couldn’t be seen clearly. We could only manage a side view and a pilot view of these falls as there was no way to get to the base.
These were a huge bonus and we’d already spent quite a lot of time with these unknown beauties so hurried up towards Paluwatte Junction where Pundalu Oya – Nuwara Eliya road meets this. Took the left turn and reached Thawalenthenna in no time. All along we could see the massive Gerandi Gini Ella in Thawalanthenna but very little water as she was falling in tiny streaks so decided not to take the estate road to go see her as it was time consuming.
This is yet another beautiful falls just by the road before the Ramboda Tunnel. Water levels were lower than I wanted yet she was still appealing to the naked eye. We climbed along the bank a bit up to get a clear view of her upper part but overgrown trees blocked our view. Below the bridge was her lower part but near impossible to get any closer so had to be content with yet another pilot view.
We took the old road where the rock formation is like a Lion’s Paw. This road, especially towards the other end of the tunnel is used by the Ramboda Falls Hotel to park the visitor vehicles, such as buses. It was hard to believe that people travelled along that tiny road for so many years.
Ramboda Oya Centre Falls
How many times have we driven past this in our lives? It’s almost similar to the number of times we went pass Devon and St. Claire by vehicles seeing them all the time but after some time got really fed up of them and we no longer bothered to stop by to enjoy their beauties. Atha was telling how we took the beautiful view of St. Claire for granted for years but now she’s nearly dead, we regret the times we couldn’t bother to stop by and took in that majestic view.
Ramboda Oya is mainly consisted of 3 waterfalls created by the same water stream. Ramboda Oya Centre falls is the easiest to see but very hard to get a clear pic without people in the way. It attracts many travelers, especially for a quick dip but unfortunately many drunkards too. However, we were lucky to have this beauty for ourselves, only for a short time though and I took the opportunity to take all the pics and videos I wanted in that short time.
Ramboda Oya Upper Falls
She’s so high up; you have to climb parallel to the water stream uphill along the concreted path for about 1-1.5km. The path is nicely done with steps all the way but now badly in need of a repair. You can at places climb down to the river to enjoy tiny cascaded along the way. About halfway up, it started to rain heavily and we fortunately had my umbrella. About 20mins later, rain went away and we continued our climb.
At the top, they’ve built a very nice platform with a roof, an area the size of maybe 15’X15’. This place is ideal for a night stay; all you need is a sleeping bag (well I’m on the hunt for one now coz one of these days, wanna go and spend a night up there with that beauty) and some food. She was so tall and reminded me of Devon, except she didn’t have that curvy shape towards the bottom. What it would be like when this one is in full flow, I kept wondering.
We did a Small Documentary and you can check that too. It started to rain and we were glad of the roof. We could see the Kotmale Reservoir in the distance and Nuwara Eliya main road too with the vehicles parked at the side of the road. It was then time to go searching for their third sister and we climbed down pretty quickly.
Ramboda Oya Lower Falls
Having reached the main road, I was thankful for the break it offered for me to take pics of the center falls without any obstruction as she was now full of people. We drove back to the tunnel and having parked there went and asked the security officer of Ramboda Falls Hotel (RFH) if we could go down and see the falls. I wasn’t expecting a positive answer as this was a big tourist place, especially with foreigners and didn’t hope they’d allow us inside as it might be disturbing their guests.
To my surprise, we got the ok (could be coz it was old man, Tony, who went and asked for permission. The security officer too was close to his age and it would’ve been this factor that got us the chance. There are benefits of having old people around us sometimes) and we went down the road to the hotel which is some way below.
The falls was beginning to see clearly and we came to the hotel and once again ask for permission which was duly granted. You have to walk through the hotel interior and then reach the main dining hall where they were serving lunch for many tourists, mainly foreigners. We again checked with the staff and they asked us to walk through the dining hall (among diners) and I felt very awkward to do this. However everybody was pretty cool about it and didn’t even make the slightest fuss over it.
The lunch was going strong and the aroma of various foods made my mouth salivating (hope none of those diners got stomachache) and out of the dining hall, it was a breath-taking view of the falls. We even could see the Puna Falls at the distance and all around us was lush greenery and towering mountains. They’ve done a nice path up to the falls from here; about 200m and we followed it occasionally stopping to take pics. There were many foreigners coming back after seeing it probably for their lunch and we had this beauty too pretty much for ourselves just like her center and upper sisters.
There even was a rainbow as if to welcome to her and we spent a long time and got back to the jeep after profusely thanking the RFH staff and security. If you happen to go there, do please ask for their permission as they were very helpful in a way. So our heartfelt thanks for them.
When picturing her from the A5, we saw that there was a bridge over the top of Puna Falls. It meant that we could go to the top of her and possibly get down to the base (a crazy idea you might think as many have given up that notion). We passed the Kandamulla Falls on the way and just around the corner was the estate road of Rangbodde Estate to your right. Follow this, just bear in mind, there’s a security officer at the entrance and you have to ask him for permission to enter the estate road.
We got the clearance and arrived after 100m or so at a bridge where Pundalu Oya was gushing underneath with a lot of water. It was only the Pundalu Oya that had considerable amount of water. It was such a beautiful view and we followed the road another 100m to see on to our right the top of Puna Ella. Both parts were clearly visible, even though they look to be falling very close to each other; they were considerably away from each other at the top, maybe 100ft or so.
From here, I could see the Devatura Ella, the full length falling from a very high point, RFH and Kandamulla Falls too. It was a rewarding experience and we enjoyed it a lot. There were carrot beds on the slope and the farmer came to see what the heck we were doing there. When I asked if there was a way down the slope to the base, he just laughed at me at first, then seeing I was dumbly serious, he said if we were to follow the estate road some more and there is a place to get to the water stream and then we can come up along it. “However, it’s so difficult” were his paring words.
We arrived back at the gate and thanked the security guard and reached the base of the Kandamulla Falls which is at the road side. There was very little water and we took a few pics and headed towards Pussellawa where our destiny drew closer to Kotmale.
Kotmale Reservoir & the Dam
We went past Helboda Falls and Delta Falls, both of were nearly dry and didn’t bother getting off and taking pics. We then turned to the Pussellawa-Ulapane Road, just another narrow road but condition was good. This runs past Maswela (Mawela), Kadadora, Kotmale, Naya Pana, Nugawela and Kalugalhinna before reaching Ulapane North. This was yet another scenic road. By taking this we managed to do the full circular route around Kotmale Reservoir (now you know the reason for the name of the trip report) and reached Kadadora where the turn off for Mahaweli Maha Seya is.
Without turning, we went a bit forward to reach the Kotmale Reservoir Viewing Platform. We had to buy tickets and the place has a museum too with various old pics. At the viewing point, we got a panoramic view of the reservoir and could barely notice the viewing platform we had tea on our way in the morning from the Harangala Junction. It was very nice scene but we didn’t spend a lot of time there.
Turning around, we went another 500m or so along the road to the dam where we had to show our tickets. Just remember you have to buy tickets at the viewing point and they are valid for both the viewing point and the dam. You can’t drive along it but can take a nice leisurely walk along it. I was mesmerized by what I saw and amazed by the sheer size of it. It was so long and high but water levels were so far down.
This is a great example of ingenuity of the engineering. The gloomy weather conditions somewhat destroyed what otherwise would have been a sensational view.
If only there was a bit of a clear blue sky, the day would’ve been perfect but we had to be content with what we got. The dam connects the two roads we took today. Even though we wanted to spend more time enjoying, we had to get a move on and bid farewell to this wonderful creation and headed back on the way we came to go see another engineering marvel of modern times, Mahaweli Maha Seya.
Mahaweli Maha Seya
This is well sign posted and can’t be missed. Take the left road from Kadadora and go uphill about 1.2km to reach this mammoth stupa. Surprisingly after nearly 3 decades, this is still only partially finished due to various reasons. I’m sure money would have been the most pressing issue. There is a legend that said whoever joined these two hills would die soon. As a result, they had to build something in this caliber to try and avoid it. Whether it was true or not, chief organizer of the express Mahaweli project, Late. Gamini Dissanayake died within 10 years of the project commencement.
Resembling Kalutara Chaithya, this too has a smaller stupa inside the main structure. It started raining as soon as we reached here but soon it went off giving some precious light to take pics inside. It was in a way, very strange how the echo is inside. Even if you whisper quietly, it’ll multiply by many times and everyone can hear as if you spoke into a microphone. There were four Buddha statues placed around the smaller stupa that were milky white. Looking at the serene looking Buddha was so peaceful. It’s always like this when you look at a Buddha statue. You could forget everything else and just keep looking at this statue that spreads compassion to everyone.
There was a shop near the stupa and we had some tea as lunch was deliberately skipped over traveling. We then got the directions to Dehadu Kadulla and went back the way we came.
This is on the same road but very much closer to the main road. As soon as you turn to Mahaweli Maha Seya road, you can see this about 20m away to the right.
According to the sign, this was one of the entrances to Maya Country from Ruhunu Country (guess you can remember Ruhunu, Pihiti & Maya). It further states that King Dutugemunu hid his royal sword at this place. I hope modern so-called kings haven’t or won’t destroy places like these searching for those swords as it’s been a maniac recently. Even the National Museum wasn’t spared in the process and even today we haven’t been able to recover what was robbed. It was the one those incidents that proved super humans are really existing.
After that, while the darkness was enveloping the surrounding, we decided to go looking for what is believed to be the second longest suspension bridge in Sri Lanka after the Ruwanwella Bridge.
Nugawela Suspension Bridge
This is visible from the main road about 1.5-2km from Kadadora along Ulapane road near Kotmale Holiday Resort and International Training Centre. This looked dilapidated and looking closely over it really was the case.
The wooden planks used for the bridge were badly in need of replacement. Some of them had simply fallen off and most others were at the brink of breaking to pieces. We even saw the villagers have put up a tire on a cable not far off to cross the river. It was so dangerous.
I hope whoever responsible will see to this and do the necessary things to make sure this bridge is usable safely. Moreover, it’s a hallmark of the country as very few suspension bridges are available in Sri Lanka nowadays.
Panoramas of the Journey
Enjoy these panoramic views too.
Well, folks, it’s been a fruitful journey in many ways. I gotta see many things I had been dreaming for ages plus there were surprise bonuses as well along the way. Mahaweli Maha Seya and Kotmale Reservoir are very appealing so wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
I don’t have to say that for the waterfalls I guess as I’m one of keenest fans of them and won’t miss a chance to see them. It was good to be with the oldies again and Tony used up his quota of traveling for July with this trip. It’ll have to be in August when he can join us again providing he gets the approval from the top.
Thanks everyone taking the time to read through and I’m praying there would be some more opportunities to do a couple more Tour de Waterfalls in the foreseeable future.
Will see you guys with the next report (no idea whatsoever what it is gonna be about) and till then this is Sri signing off.
Take care and keep traveling.