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|Year and Month||26 Dec, 2014|
|Number of Days||1|
|Crew||Harinda and Me|
|Accommodation||Kiri Mahaththaya’s House|
|Transport||By Tuk-tuk, bus and on foot.|
|Activities||Waterfall Hunting, Photography, Hiking, etc…|
|Weather||Gloomy with occasional showers.|
|Route||Mandaram Nuwara->Kolapathana->Mandaram Nuwara->Padiyapelella->Munwatte->Rikillagaskada->Kandy->Colombo.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
The morning rays penetrated the glass panes on the windows announcing that the morning is here. The rain kept drumming on the tin roof throughout the night making some sleepy sounds. We were feeling the cold now and getting out of the warmth of my sleeping bag was not something pleasant.
Finally around 7am I managed to break the shackles and stir the snoring Hariya. After a chilly wash we locked up and went down to the Bo Sewana looking for some breakfast. We found just the place and sat down for some hot Wadei, Rolls, Hoppers and Rice-flour made delicacy called Pusnambu. The rain was intense and mist had come without an invitation covering the whole area. After a hearty meal and sweet cups of coffee, we went to Kiri Mahaththaya’s house ready for the morning chores. He was surprised to see us up and about so without much waiting went uphill towards the base of the tallest lady in Sri Lanka.
- Kolapathana Ella, Mandaram Nuwara.
- Hollangala No. 3 Ella, Mandaram Nuwara.
- Hollangala No. 4 Ella, Mandaram Nuwara.
- Andawela Ella, Munwatte.
- Gorakamadiththa Ella, Gorakamadiththa.
- Katugashinna Ella, Rikillagaskada.
Our target was another beautiful falls, named Kolapathana Ella. So laden with raincoats and my umbrella we hurried uphill going parallel to the Belihul Oya.
Kiri Mahaththaya spoke very highly of this falls saying she was the best of the lot and we had no reason not to believe his word. Let’s wait until we see her for real was my cautious reply. After about 500m we came across the first barrier of the day. The path to Kolapathana, very much similar to the ones in Meemure where cattle is left alone after the agricultural duties to find their own food by grazing the fresh and lush grass, was blocked by the over flowing Belihul Oya.
Golly, we were stuck. Even Kiri found it impossible to cross it and he then led us through bean, carrot and raddish fields. Kiri and Hari carrying his rubber slippers most of the time in his hands were barefoot while I was in my shoes hindering my movements in the soggy earth. After a while the farmlands disappeared paving the way to abandoned paddy fields. After the declaration of a reserve, the farmers had been asked to go further towards Mandaram Nuwara leaving their former farmlands behind. The mighty Piduruthalagala looked majestic when the mist was kind enough to part. While the rain hammered us from above, the abhorrent leeches showed no mercy from the below.
We kept up the pace, Hari mostly using 4-wheel drive, slipping and tripping being covered in mud. We kept going uphill and after about 2km, we saw the typical geographic signs of a flatland aka Pathana. Kiri said the Sambar Deer roam around at times but we saw only the left cattle. They looked threatening but soon as Hariya came to the view, ran for their lives. The Piduruthalagala was getting closer to us and according to Sumanarathna mama, an elderly farmer we met tending to his cattle, the height at the Kolapathana Ella area is about 7500ft. The Piduruthalagala is around 8300ft so we were as close as 800ft to the summit but that stretch is beyond the legal barrier. Even though there used to be a footpath leading to N’Eliya from Mandaram Nuwara via Piduruthalagala, now it is not in use as entering the reserve is prohibited.
We walked close to 3km when out of nowhere came to see this gorgeous twin falls falling amid thick jungle. The real Kolapathana Ella is the one to the right, the one to the left is a seasonal cascade yet bigger and higher. This was something I won’t ever forget. The two white lines drawn amid the dark green background with touches of white was a painting that can only be drawn by the capable hands of the Mother Nature. The mist had covered the falls nearly completely when we arrived but I started singing “Mist, mist, go away – Come again another day” and as if on cue, the rain eased and the mist lifted calmly over the Piduruthalagala showing her prominent rocky slope. The radar site is located almost on the middle of the summit making it impossible to see from here and this angle. Sumanarathna mama too joined us now and Hariya went down to the base of the falls with him and Kiri while I stayed up and took hundreds of pictures.
We were in a world of our own; this is nothing short of the so-called heaven. Despite not getting any sunlight, the surrounding mountains looked their best. They were all shades of green with a few patches of grey where the rocky skin was showing. The misty scarves hung around their necks giving them a more prominent look. The sky was dull grey with ripe grape-like rain laden clouds drifting with a difficulty as if had a bellyful meal. The ground was lush with light green grass which those cattle devoured. Tiny streams popping out of every crevice making playful pools all around. This is a scene straight from the high heaven. Just check out our documentary from here.
We could even see the Gerandi Ella in the far distance which was like being able to see the both ends of Mandaram Nuwara road. Beyond her was another taller cascade but she was just a seasonal one. We couldn’t get enough of her but had much more to go see, so very sadly we bid farewell and headed back. Our next target was a mountain of waterfalls, yeah you heard me right the first time, Mountain of Waterfalls, located about 2-3km from Bo Sewana at No. 5 area. That area is just called No. 5 and there are other numbers as well.
Mountain of Waterfalls – Hollangala
No, no you got it all mixed up. It’s not the Holman Gala (Ghostly Rock), it’s the Hollangala. You remember My Waterfall Tour around Maussakelle, don’t you? Along the Hatton route to the Sri Pada, I showed you the best waterfall mountain I’ve ever seen. Well, Hollangala is very similar even though not in the same caliber, she’s come closer. There were 5 very prominent falls (we named them Hollangala No. 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 Falls) but spread out over a vast area compared to the tight fitting one near Peace Pagoda. In addition to these, there were a few faintly visible cascades as well.
We reached Mandaram Nuwara and went towards Hollangala or No. 5 area. This is due left when you look at Piduruthalagala from Bo Sewana straight ahead. Tell you another funny thing, this road circles around and returns to the Bo Sewana via other numbered areas and closer to Mandaram Nuwara is a place called Malsara Nuwara. In other words, the Cupid’s Town. It’s funny but very true. We kept walking along the terrible road and came across a few mud slides that had blocked the road. The over flowing water streams turned the road at places into canals.
We walked about 2-3km enjoying the beautiful country side. Out of the 5 prominent cascades, two were clearly visible from the road at a distance. Others were too visible but not like the No. 3 & 4 Falls. We enjoyed the scenery but time was running away so without going through the full circle, we returned to our home and got ready to leave. We thanked Kiri profusely for his hospitality and being the guide and gave him some money asking him to improve the condition of the house so that it will be a good investment.
Returning to Mandaram Nuwara town, we spoke to Gamini and when I showed him my video of Kolapathana Ella, he asked for it to be saved to his computer. I obliged and even he gasped at the amount of water and the sheer beauty. We had some snacks while waiting for the bus and called Nava informing of our arrival in Padiyapelella as we had more plans. So bidding farewell to everyone we got on the bus and left very sadly, especially Hariya who was very reluctant to leave Mandaram Nuwara for some reason. He even wanted to stay one more day by taking a leave but I wouldn’t let him. The ferocious Belihul Oya kept with us winding down parallel to the road. This is when we came across a huge split across the road signaling of another danger. The bus cautiously drove through the split and we arrived in Padiyapelella rather late for our liking.
We arrived at Padiyapelella around 2.30pm well past our estimated time. Amid Hari’s protests, we met with Nava and hurriedly drove towards Walapane searching for the mighty flow of Andawela Ella. She is located at Munwatte, about 6km from Padiyapelella just by the road. The road was in a terrible condition, full of chocolate like mud, very slippery and plenty of pot holes full of brownish water making them deadly dangerous, especially for small vehicles.
Passing through, we saw a smoke drifting to the air in the distance and at first my thought was something was on fire. However getting closer I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was the water vapor created by the sheer volume of the water levels of Andawela Ella. She’s tall, something around 80-100ft and falls in two crevices and joins in the middle making a big fat girlie. This was something out of a Hollywood movie. The bridge shook under the continuous hammering from this hefty lady and walking along it was like going through a hurricane.
You could really feel how strong the water levels were. I felt like pushing to the other end of the bridge by a heavy force, even Hariya shuddered under the pressure. Standing in front of her, let alone taking a picture was a mission impossible. You could have got wet within a few seconds, repeat, just in seconds. All you had to do was, get in to your bathing suit, walk along the bridge from one end to the other, then soap yourself, and walk back. At the end, towel yourself and you’d have had a superb bath faster than making instant noodles. That powerful her force was.
We had to fight for taking those precious pictures. The camera, especially the lens would get covered with water droplets just trying to focus. The best you could do was, point it, press the shutter button and run for cover. Then wipe the whole camera with a towel or hanky and repeat the process. It was hell but I didn’t mind it for one bit. We were seeing something that happens maybe once a lifetime and savored every second of it amid all the hardships. We behaved as kids who had found gifts under their pillows brought by the Santa. Nava just looked on, must have been wondering how crazy we were. We were late and we knew that yet there was nothing we could about it. Hurriedly we got back started driving back towards Padiyapelella only to stop by another waterfall at Gorakamadiththa, about 3km from Padiyapelella.
We arrived at a bridge in Gorakamadiththa and just like any bridge in the upcountry roads there was this waterfall next to it. Looking from the road over the railing of the bridge, you might not notice much about this. However we weren’t to be deceived by these kinda disguises so got down to inspect further. We were right of course and towards the uphill behind typical tree cover were two upper parts falling from two different sections and joining later making this large body.
Well you simply can’t compare her with the likes of Andawela Ella in size but still this was no one to ignore. Unfortunately we faced the most common problem when taking pictures of a waterfall, the branches and trees. Even though our eyes are more than capable of looking through them concentrating solely on the waterfall, the cameras are not so bright. Of course you will stand a better chance with a sophisticated camera than the simple point-n-shoots we use. So we had to be content with mostly the lower section of this and went towards Padiyapelella.
I of course badly wanted to see her from the time I saw her falling majestically from the bus coming up the previous day. However the time was past 3.30pm and missed the last bus to Kandy which meant having to go up to Rikillagskada. This multiplied the chances of seeing the Katugashinna Ella. The last time we came to see this fall, there was nothing but the solid rock to photograph. This is mostly due to the diversion of water from the top. However heavy rains had made sure no amount of diversion going to block her falling over the rock making this beautiful fall come alive.
Passing through Rikillagskada, we went close to 2km further towards Hanguranketha. She is right by the road but have to cross a private hotel property to get to the base. Getting out we went through the driveway of the hotel and got some pictures. The waterfall was very rich and had the unmistakable brown tinge to the color. You can’t miss her as there’s a yellow sign board too on the road. We had barely been with her when a bus came and had to finish the shooting cutting it short. Wish there was more time but had to be content with what we got. Paying Nava and bidding him farewell we rushed to the bus.
I’ve noticed some refer to a waterfall named Katugas Oya that is very much similar to this. Probably they’re both referred to the one and the same.
That bus was only up to Hanguranketha but fortunately the Kandy bus that had left before us was waiting in Hanguranketha. Things fell into place afterwards and we managed to catch probably the last A/C bus to Colombo around 6pm.
Gosh, I’m tired telling you all this than actually doing the whole marathon. Hope you got something out of this helping you plan your future trips.
The open spills of Victoria had to be put off due to the lack of time but it was in my mind all the way to Colombo. Hopefully I will get to go get a glimpse of that rare sighting before the rains pack up and go home.
If I get to do that, you are sure to hear all about it. Well keeping my fingers crossed.
Until the next time, this is Sri signing off.