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|Year and Month||04-05 Jan, 2015|
|Number of Days||2|
|Crew||Lasantha and Me|
|Accommodation||Lasantha’s Place, Nugathalawa.|
|Transport||By Bus, on foot, by tuk-tuk and train|
|Activities||Waterfall Hunting, Photography, Relaxing, etc…|
Maharagama->Kumbalwela->Ella->Kithal Ella->Ella->Bambaragama Ella->Badulla->Dunhinda Ella->Badulla->Welimada.
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
2014 has seen a flurry of waterfall hunts thanks to the unexpected heavy rainfalls. I didn’t miss even a slight opportunity go see these wonderful creatures of the Mother Nature. I finished the year with another waterfall hunt in and around Nanu Oya & Nuwara Eliya that took the total tally to 16 (being only 5 shy of the Tour de France stages). What better way to open your account in the New Year other than with waterfalls. I had to see some of those sexy girls in 2015 as well so called one of my long-time friends, Lasantha whose hometown is Welimada. I’d already done a few visits to Welimada before but the heavy showers in December brought another opportunity which I grabbed with both hands.
So on the 4th Jan, Duruthu Poya Day, around 3.00am I woke Lasantha and joined him to wait for a Badulla bus. After about half hour there came a blue-stickered semi-luxury bus. Have any of you wondered what the difference between Normal and Semi-Luxury is? We’re paying some one and half the usual fee for nothing, as far as I can see. This has turned into a big rip off and wonder who on earth had come up with this shoddy idea of semi-luxury. They’re not even going fast but stop everywhere to pick up people.
- Ravana Ella, Kital Ella.
- Bambaragama Ella, Ella.
- Dunhinda Ella, Badulla.
- Dunhinda Mini Falls, Badulla.
- Lower Bomburu Ella, Perawella.
- Bomburu Ella, Perawella.
- Ravan Ella, Uduhawara.
- Mana Ella, Lunuwatte.
Now that I’ve taken it off my chest, let’s see what was in store for me upon arriving in Kumbalwela where the Ella-Wellawaya Road begins. It had gone 8am, much later than I’d planned but there was hardly anything I could do about the crawling bus, when we reached Kumbalwela and waited for a bus to get us to Ella. The under construction road was full of dust and waiting proved to be a huge challenge but after it felt like an eternity, there was a bus and we got in quickly.
My efforts to catch up on sleep became futile so had a tough time waiting till we reached Belihul Oya for breakfast. Pan Cake just out of the oven washed down with ginger-flavored plain tea brought the active adventurer in me. From there the journey became more pleasant. The Walawe Valley stretched into miles with vivid colors. Finally around 8.30am, we reached Kumbalwela and got off the bus. Then it was another sometime before a bus arrived for us to get to Ella.
We jumped out of the bus as it went through the tunnel where the railway line is overhead. We then got onto the railway line hoping to walk towards Kital Ella some close to 2km away. However, it wasn’t to be as I heard a deep rumble coming from the railway line ahead at a bend and ran for cover. There was no train even after about 5 mins and was wondering where on earth it went when it dawned on me that the train services were curtailed at Nanu Oya due to landslides.
Oh dear, what was coming then, I panicked but my anxiety got the better of me and went parallel to see what was making such a noise. At the corner, peering like a frightened deer, I saw a JCB travelling about along the railway line. What the world has come to was my immediate thought but looking closer I realized it was simply removing the earth and rubble off the railway line. Feeling relieved we took a detour and got to the railway line on the other side and walked towards Kital Ella.
About half a km into the journey, we could see the Ravana Ella falling beautifully in the far. Compared to last time when we saw her during My First Rail Hike, the water level was rich and healthy but not as much as I’d hoped for. We kept going up stopping here and there to take pictures when the opportunity arose. As usual, there were many foreigners taking a stroll along the railway line. Ella is a very hotspot for foreigners and they usually walk along the railway line to climb the Ella Rock.
We reached the railway bridge just before the Kital Ella station and got down to see the falls that gave us a side angle. The trees and their branches did everything to prevent us from taking her picture but Lasantha managed to keep them away while I took the photographs. The jumping upper section was like a tail of a cockerel and we enjoyed this beauty. I wish we could get to the base of but it’d’ve taken the whole day and still not sure if it was possible either.
So after a few minutes of shooting, we headed back towards Ella in the scorching sun hoping to catch a bus to go see one of the most popular and photographed falls in Sri Lanka, Bambaragama Ella.
We were lucky to find a CTB bus going towards Hambanthota but were surprised when the writing on the bus said that it belonged to Panadura Depot. After a brief conversation with the conductor, I found out that they were going to Hambanthota for transporting people to election rallies. We got off at Bambaragama Ella to find a lot of people already shooting away as if this was the only fall in Sri Lanka. This is one of the most commonly visited and photographed falls in Sri Lanka due to its location, just by the road towards Wellawaya. Similarly the falls like Devon, St. Claire (now the St. Claire Rock), Ramboda Centre and Diyaluma are popular due to their strategic locations.
Unlike the video shown on TV a few days ago, a brownish body of water falling ferociously was no longer there. Instead what we saw was a very beautiful and pristine white beauty falling majestically along the rocks creating a few prominent cascades on the way. Even though she’s on the roadside I’ve only seen her a few times and the most recent before this time was a couple of years ago.
The sign informing about the number of people who had died attempting to either bath or climb up the slippery rocks was horrifying yet you can still see people trying the very same thing. The right hand side of the falls where people usually try to get up is now blocked with a metal fence and we saw a few police officers keep a close eye out for anyone trying to be heroic. There were a couple of foreigners trying to get up a rock closer to the base and get a few pictures of the falls and the police officers quickly went and warned them.
This one is also called Ravana Ella Lower Falls due to maybe due to its location.
I even saw a cluster of butterflies feeding on the wet earth looking for the daily mineral dosage I guess. After spending about an hour enjoying the beauty of her, we got into a Badulla-bound bus.
Dunhinda Ella & Dunhinda Mini Falls
The next in line was another sexy girl in Sri Lanka. She’s also one of the mostly visited one by almost everybody and very popular among locals and foreigners alike. Originated by Badulu Oya, she’s located along Badulla-Mahiyangana Road some 5-6km from Badulla Town. We arrived in Badulla past 1pm feeling ravenous. Going into a shop, we had a very lousy meal but as it pampered our hunger, we came and got into an overflowing bus to Mahiyangana.
The conductor had a tough time coming from the front to the back through the packed crowd. We got off at the Dunhinda turn off to find the whole area had been washed down by the intermittent rains. A large area closer to the entrance had been slipped and a couple of houses were at the brink of falling towards the road. Those people must’ve had a pretty scary time.
We entered the isolated path that are bordered by the shops selling stuff like Belimal, Kitul Flour & Jaggery, Juices and various other typical products. However the lack of crowds recently has discouraged most of the shop owners and many of them were closed. We walked on and compared to my previous visit which was more than 2 years ago, the path is now in very good condition with more added cement steps and bridges. It was late afternoon and we met a few people returning from the falls. The lady at the ticketing counter was half asleep and we woke her and bought tickets for just Rs. 10/- each.
A short walk brought us to the vicinity of the observation point where you could get a grand view of the Dunhinda Mini Falls but now it’s almost completely obscured by the trees. One can instead go up the path towards the newly built toilets. From there you can get a good view. We actually found this out on our return from the main falls.
The path had been slipped in many parts but repaired by the authorities remarkably. We could hear the distant roar of the Mini Falls but as I mentioned above, we had no way of getting a good look at her at first so decided to carry on towards her big sister. The path was shady and protected us from the unforgiving sun. It’s about 1.5km hike to the falls and when getting closer to her, the roar of her falling became deafening and I was impatient to go there.
Climbing down some steps closer to a shop gave me the first glimpse of this wonderful creation of the Mother Nature. She was simply awesome and her usual white wrap had a few brownish smudges to show that she’d been very naughty in the recent past. The opening of the rock where she jumps out into the base is very narrow and the pressure at the point must’ve been enormous. This huge body of water kept pushing at great speeds to try and get to the bottom before the rest creating this gorgeous flow of water.
We practically ran downhill till we stopped abruptly as we entered the viewing platform. The lush green forest patch was to the left of the falls bathed in afternoon golden brown rays. The wet grey rocky surface glistened in the sun reflecting nicely. In the center of was this big fat body of white water with a tinge of brownish mud. Millions of water drops sprayed the whole area and a rainbow added color to the picture. To top it all, the sky above the tree line turned into royal blue with a few patches of clouds.
We spent quite a lot of time with her taking zillions of pictures. The whole platform was empty as the visitors had left by the time we arrived and only the shop owner at the platform was keeping this girl company. We had a very pleasant time with her but finally Lasantha remembered that we had to go home and the day being a Poya and the ever-heating election campaign made things too hot for us. So we decided to bid farewell and head home.
On the way back, I was feeling so low as there was no better picture of the Mini Falls when I noticed the uphill footpath closer to the entrance that leads to the toilets. Just on an impulse I ran up to see the beautiful but muddier looking Mini Falls. She was looking angry and dangerous but we were safe far away on the trail.
We managed to get into a bus as we came out onto the road and reached Badulla around 3.30pm. Without wasting time, we immediately got on board a Nuwara Eliya bus that goes via Welimada. Between Hali Ela and Atampitiya we saw more than hundred earth slips had occurred, most of which were pretty big ones. There were a few cascades too. We saw the area which will be affected by the Uma Oya Project and most of the people had left their houses and it looked very much like a ghost haunted area.
Arriving at Welimada, just as we suspected, the traffic got stuck in an election rally but thankfully it wasn’t a long wait. Finally we reached Lasantha’s home to be welcomed by his mother warmly. It was pretty cold but despite that we had a bath and with a steaming cup of coffee rested our tired feet on the settee while reflected on the day’s events.
The TV was rubbish with so many useless election advertisements and after a warm meal; we decided to close shop for the day.
After a dreamless night, I got up to yet another glorious day. As if on cue, Lasantha’s mother brought the morning tea and I got ready quickly as there were many plans for the day lined up. Lasantha was as usual very lazy to get up and I spent the time picturing a pair of giant squirrels who kept bounding from one branch to the other.
The breakfast was delicious and Lasantha made one of his signature egg omelette for us to take with sliced bread. I was planning to get back to Colombo on the same day, pretty hectic schedule but simply couldn’t afford a leave at the time. So we said good-bye to Lasantha’s mother and walked through bean fields to the main road to get a bus to Welimada.
Lower Bomburu Ella & Bomburu Ella
I’ve visited Bomburu Ella before, with Lasantha and two of my other friends some time ago but I wanted once again to visit this beauty. I can remember Ashan referred to her once as the Mother of all Waterfalls. We took the Bomburu Ella bus from Welimada Clock Tower Bus Stand (not the main one) and it left around 10.30am towards Bomburu Ella passing the Ambagasdowa where the road splits into two. The left one goes to Bomburu Ella aka Perawella while the right one goes to Lunuwaththa and then continues onto Nuwara Eliya via Udu Pussellawa. The Bomburu Ella road winds up passing Perawella village and then joins the Welimada-Nuwara Eliya main road just below Haggala Garden. So if you’re coming from Nuwara Eliya (just like Hasitha did after my visit) you can take that road can come straight to Bomburu Ella.
Don’t be confused by the terms of Bomburu Ella and Perawella as they both are one and the same. People refer to Bomburu Ella as Perawella Ella too. However the bus says Bomburu Ella. As usual the bus is full and you’re forced to offer your seat to the more needy people. The bus also acts as the transport method for the villagers vegetables so there will be many of them stacked up on seats especially when coming from Bomburu Ella to Welimada. There are two buses going from Bomburu Ella to Nuwara Eliya in the morning but we couldn’t get the exact times. They take the road that leads to Haggala.
It took closer to an hour for the bus to get to the Bomburu Ella village, well it’s the last stop and now there are ample sign postings. If you can remember my previous journey to Ravan Ella, the turn off to her is also along Bomburu Ella road but one has to go straight towards Korandekumbura at the Uduhawara Junction. If you’re going from Welimada, you can easily take the Korandekumbura bus from the same place as Bomburu Ella one. We got off at Bomburu Ella and then started walking along the irrigation channel that brings water to the paddy fields from Bomburu Ella.
There were a couple of cascades on the way. The path to the waterfall is now cleared and wide. They have even added another pipeline. It wasn’t there when we visited last time. After a km or so, we came to this clearing where there was a nice waterfall to our right. Looking closer, she was pretty big and I was wondering if the Bomburu Ella has changed shape but found this to be the Lower Bomburu Ella. All this time, she’s been hidden among the trees but recent expansion on the trail has brought her into the open.
She was in fact two falls merged into one. There was the wide upper section with a height of about 30ft and then the lower cascade falling to the right of the edge with a similar height. We spent some time there and took pictures. She was a new find and when the rains were in full force, I don’t think anyone could’ve even used the path to go any further due to the ferocity of the water.
Afterwards, we climbed up to go see the big sister of her that is one gorgeous lady. Coming into the view of the falls made me gasped. The sight of her simply mesmerized me and I have no words to express the sheer beauty unfolded. She was falling in three prominent parts but the whole area looked as if covered by a transparent white cloth. The greenery patch to the right was covered by the water drops and sun was appearing up in the sky brightening the atmosphere. Amid this wide and tall silky white wrap were the shining rocks, lush green bushes, and towering chunks of boulders, glamorous blue sky and the endless sound of the water flowing downhill.
I wanted to be lost in this paradise, not for a few days but forever. However, the two friendly farmers who were here when we came last time had disappeared along with their farms. The former vegetable plots had been abandoned leaving just the grassy patches. We finally made up our minds to say goodbye to this gorgeous lady and be on our way to another within close proximity.
We came back to Bomburu Ella where the bus stops. While waiting for it, we enjoyed a soft drink and after a short wait came the bus. Usually the directions to Ravan Ella is go along Korandekumbura Road passing Uduhawara (remember you have to turn left when coming from Welimada to go to Bomburu Ella) about 3-4km before turning to the left for another km or so hike. However, we found another short cut this time thanks to the villagers in the bus.
We got off at a place about 2-3km from Bomburu Ella and took the left concrete road that leads to the Ravan Ella. Unfortunately it has escaped my mind the name they refer to this place (some kind of a Post such as 2nd Post – Deke Kanuwa). We then started the downhill walk along the concrete paved bit but only the first few meters were concreted, another of so-called Village Development Project. The road was bordered by an irrigational canal to our left and to the right was the huge expanse of paddy fields running as far as the eye can see.
We walked closer to 1.5km before arriving at the base of the falls where it merged with the previously taken road. It’s hard to give the directions but the villagers are very helpful and will show you the way happily. The sight of her simply blew our minds away. Compared to last time, there was many times water and it was a big rotund body of water flowing straight down to the base with a fiery crash sending thousands of water droplets into the air covering the whole area.
We spent some time as usual being watched by a curious father and son wondering if this was a shooting of a mega drama. We took as many pictures as possible and took the path I did last time and reached the Korandekumbura Road around 3pm. Apparently there’s no bus service from Korandekumbura to Welimada after 3pm so we had to resort to a tuk-tuk and managed to convince a guy for Rs. 600/- to take us all the way to Ambagasdowa.
Fortunately for us as we were getting to Uduhawara Junction, there was a bus coming from Bomburu Ella and the tuk-tuk driver asked us to take the bus as it was cheaper. Thanking him we got into the bus and reached Ambagasdowa. From there another bus took us to Lunuwatte, on our way to the last of the destinations, Mana Ella.
You can take either Udupussellawa Bus or ideally Lucky Land Bus that’ll take you right up to the falls. We took Udupussellawa bus and got off passing the Lunuwatte town near a Bo Tree with a left hand road. This is the Lucky Land bus takes and getting off we decided to walk downhill towards the falls. It’s about 1km walk along the road passing a Kovil on the left.
When you reach a bridge with another small Kovil to the left just passing the bridge (the stream that goes underneath creates the Mana Ella), well you’ve reached the turn off to the falls. To your right is an estate road bordered with tea and turpentine trees. Take this and walking a bit you’ll see a pond like water collection to the right. This is the water coming under the bridge collected by daming it at the top of the falls.
Walk further up till you reach a forked junction (Y junction). Take the downhill right hand path and if you keep a close eye, there’s a footpath through the turpentine patch that runs to the base of the falls. This is only a few meters from the forked junction. There are of course two paths the first to the right going to the top and the second further down going to the base. We took the second one (I could remember the way from the last time) and reached the base.
Well, actually it’s not the base. When you walk down, there’s a jack tree and a huge rocky boulder in front of you towards the base. You can only see the top of the falls and you have to get up to the rock near the jack tree. The climb is not so tough but for a girl or a lady, it might be tricky, especially if it’s wet. We climbed to the top and once there (be very careful and don’t take pictures or start admiring the view until you’re sitting, NOT standing, on the rock comfortably) you can get an amazing view of the whole package.
You can see the base from here but a lot below from where you are. She is usually a rich one but this time even richer with a tinge of that mischievous mud brown. The sight of this gorgeous girlie is enough to make you wow. We spent a long time while the sun was clearing his desk, getting ready to go home before stopping at the village shop for the bread and sweets for the kids. But I wasn’t ready to go yet, for I kept Lasantha waiting for some more.
Finally we decided to go up to the top of the falls and spend what little sunlight there. On the top, you can see a few tiny circular pools in which one can bathe easily but not swim though. It’s believed this is where King Walagamba enjoyed watching his queens bathing in the pools. The stone seat like place is still there and closer to that there’s a carving on the rock similar to a Punkalasa (pot-shaped). A few feet above on the rocky wall one can see two sword-like carvings placed next to each other as if a symbol. When we visited last, the boy who helped us find the falls said that numerous attempts had been made by the local politicians to unearth the treasure hidden but nobody knows if it was successful or not.
The water was overflowing from the dam and the tiny pools were full of water. It’d’ve been a great sight for the king if the legends are true when his queens played water games here. All we did was to have our snack (remember Lasantha’s signature egg omelet) and sliced bread. We were supposed to have it for lunch but our hunger for waterfalls was so great we simply forgot all about it and been carrying it throughout the day.
We wolfed it down and got back on the road waving at this sexy girl. We walked back up to the main road and took a Welimada bus. Arriving at Welimada just passing 6pm and Lasantha said good-bye to me. I had no choice but to get onto the Bandarawela bus. Along the winding road, I fell asleep and woke up when we reached B’Wela at 7.30pm.
Talking about coincidences, the same slow bus we came to Kumbalwela the day before. Golly, I could’ve cried but what to do I was stuck with the darn thing. We left at 8.00pm and spent the next 5.5hrs on the road.
Finally I reached home around 2am and hit the sack as the following the office was on the hunt for me.
Well, finally I’ve managed to finish the tale, haven’t I? It certainly took its sweet little time but looking back, every millisecond spend on it is worth a lot.
Hope you guys joined me in watching these beautiful girls and enjoyed them as much as I did.
This is Sri saying good-bye for now and will probably see you with another fairy tale.
Until then, keep traveling and be safe.