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|Year and Month||11-13 Dec, 2015|
|Number of Days||3|
|Crew||Ana, Atha, D, Prasa and Me|
|Accommodation||Mount Pleasant Hotel, Bandarawela|
|Transport||By SUV, Bus, Train and On Foot…|
|Activities||Archaeology, Waterfall Hunting, Photography, Rail Hikes, etc…|
|Weather||Excellent till early afternoon and heavy rains afterwards.|
Bandarawela->Ella->Kital Ella – By Bus and On Foot.
Kital Ella->Demodara – On Foot
Demodara->Bandarawela – By Train
Bandarawela->Haldummulla->Needwood Tea Factory->Portuguese Fort->Haldummulla->Malabe.
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well and getting geared up for the up-coming festive season. Well, all the glamour of the festive season would’ve been over by the time you read this article. However, after our previous hike based at Kande Ela, there was a transitional period, very much like the “Nonagathaya” aka inauspicious time during April New Year. I was going mad with nowhere to go and was ready to walk up a wall when finally Hasi came into my rescue and we managed to do a small Waterfall Hunt in Colombo.
If it wasn’t for that, I’d’ve had to be admitted to a sanatorium. Even after that, there was a long wait before our scheduled journey to the Koslanda, Bandarawela and Demodara. The constant rains made me think of those gorgeous cascades falling majestically having been fed by the increased volume of water but I was stuck at home with no means to go see them. However, we planned to visit a few of them during our journey, most notably the Upper Diyaluma Falls or according to Dr. Eberhard Kautzsch who wrote the book “A Guide to the Waterfalls of Sri Lanka”, this could even be the Kudalu Ella.
Many others had been to this place before and I was itching to go and see this remarkable lady. I must’ve gone through the reports hundreds of times and had very clear picture of her in my mind. In addition to her, we planned to do a small rail hike too from Kital Ella to Demodara visiting the 9-Arch Bridge. Atha, Prasa and I did our first-ever rail hike from B’Wela to Uduwara more than 2 years ago. Still, I wanted to go see this architectural marvel built by our ancestors. So I kept counting the days impatiently like a little boy waiting for the school holidays.
Finally the most eagerly-awaited day arrived and we as usual left Malabe at 3am sharp and were on our way towards Avissawella to pick Prasa. The ride as always was full of recollections of our previous journeys and discussions on current socio-economic issues, budget proposals, etc.
- Bambarakanda Ella, Kalupahana.
- Haldummulla Ella, Haldummulla.
- Galkanda Ella aka Nisansala Ella, Nikapotha.
- Upper Diyaluma Falls aka Kudalu Ella, Makaldeniya.
- Top of Diyaluma Ella, Makaldeniya.
- Ravana Ella, Kithal Ella.
- Rail Hike from Kithal Ella to Demodara.
- 9-Arch Bridge
- Gotuwala Ella, Demodara.
- Haldummulla Portuguese Fort aka Katugodalla Fort, Haldummulla.
- Surathali Ella, Halpe.
The roads were slick with the water from the previous night’s rain mixed with the oil yet we made good progress and reached one of our regular morning coffee shops in Kuruwita. There were fresh vegetable roti and egg rolls so we had a pre-breakfast with strong black coffee. It was still very much dark and while we were passing Balangdoa, D came up with the idea of paying a quick visit to Bambarakanda as the water levels might be healthy.
So I called Mrs. Mayakaduwa and informed her about our imminent arrival. The sun was up and shining beautifully and to our left over the lush green paddy fields and foreground dark green hills, we saw the twin peaks of Dethanagala that is pointed and located close to each other resembling a woman’s breast. Passing Brampton Falls and Surathali Ella, we were tempted to stop as they were full of white foamy water but it was still the early hours and the poor lighting made the decision for us not to stop by.
The water levels of Belihul Oya and Hirikatu Oya had risen due to the inter-monsoons and our hopes of seeing more water on Bambarakanda soared high with that. Well, only one way to find out, let’s go and see.
We took the turn at Kalupahana and the 4km journey to the Bambarakanda Rest was a pleasant one. However there were a few places where the earth and rocky boulders had fallen onto the road as a result of the rains in the past few weeks. We could see the abandoned Udaveriya Tea Factory so high above us and it brought back the sweet memories of our trek from Ohiya to Bambarakanda. Couple of seasonal cascades could be seen falling from the rocky hills above. Wangedigala, Balathuduwa and Gon Molliya bordered the left flank where it separated Bambarakanda from the Non Pareil and Nagrak Divisions. I’m sure you remember our Nagrak Journey we did last February.
Taking the last turn before the rest, we came across the tallest lady in Sri Lanka, Bambarakanda Ella falling some 800ft along a rocky boulder. Well the height of her is also a bit of confusion coz some say it’s 263m (or 863ft according to Wikipedia) and others refer to it as 241m (791ft according to Amazing Lanka). I wonder if it is calculated with or without the Bambarakanda Upper Falls as the difference in heights sort of matches her height. Well, it’s something for you to ponder about when you’ve got nothing better to do.
As usual she looked amazing and unbelievably tall. However the water levels had not risen to levels expected by us but was healthier than usual. The sky was heavily pregnant with charcoal grey clouds and looked as if ready to have her baby any minute. Gon Molliya twin peaks reminded us of Dethanagala. Right now, let’s go and talk to Mrs. Mayakaduwa and take some pictures of this beautiful lady from there.
She was pleasantly surprised to see us and welcomed us warmly. We declined her offer for breakfast as we’d taken our own sandwiches with us. While she prepared tea, we took many pictures of the Bambarakanda Ella and started on our pile of sandwiches. You guys can enjoy the pictures but don’t ask for sandwiches coz there’s hardly enough for us.
After our breakfast and some tea, we bid our farewell to Mrs. Mayakaduwa and left for Beragala. However on the way, we saw a breath-taking scene. Bambarakanda Ella had decided to give us a royal welcome and had chased the gloomy weather and invited a bit of sunlight. The greenery after being washed cleanly by the rain looked so beautiful and sensual I just couldn’t make up my mind to leave her. To make things really interesting and tempting, a rainbow had descended across her towards the lower section. It was a painting done in the heaven and brought to the earth especially for us. After a few pictures, we sadly bid farewell to her and promised to be back again.
We travelled along the A4 and reached Haldummulla where there are remains of yet another Portuguese Fort. You’ll see the archaeological sign at the old Haldummulla Town which is towards Beragala. We were planning to make it to the fort on our way back. Passing the old town, we stopped at a bridge with a relatively large waterfall right by the main road (golly, I forgot to get the Bridge No). I’ve seen this many times while going on this road but never had the means to stop by to admire her beauty. I wonder how come she was not documented before as she must be about 40-50ft in height and very beautiful too.
Here are some pictures and you can decide whether she’s worth documenting. I’m not sure if she’s already a documented one either. So hoping she hasn’t been, I’ve named her Haldummulla Ella.
What do you think? She’s a real beauty, isn’t she? Ok, now that I’ve introduced her to you, let’s move on from here and go to Beragala where we have to continue further along the A4 that goes via Koslanda. I used to think the A4 was the road that goes straight towards Haputale and B’Wela coz it looks like the main road. However, I was proved wrong and I keep wondering if this stretch between Beragala and Wellawaya is fit to be called an A Grade Road. Very much like the Badulla-Bibila Stretch.
Galkanda Ella aka Nisansala Ella
We drove on and turned at Beragala towards Koslanda. The Walawe Basin looked beautiful with many different landscapes such as light green paddy fields, darker shades of forests patches, pointing hills and beautifully shaped placid tanks and reservoirs. However the memories of Meeriyabedda tragedy sort of spoiled the mood. Koslanda is known for terrible landslides and has probably the only active landslide area in Sri Lanka which is under inspection and studies by the geologists and students.
Our next attraction was the Galkanda Ella or Nisansala Ella. I came across her in one of Ashan’s report and managed to visit her last year and was hoping for more water due to the relentless rains. Passing Nikapotha we came across a fairly large bridge which dates back probably a century where the fall can be seen in three separate segments. Upper and Mid Sections are to the left of the bridge (when coming from Beragala) and the Lower Part is on the other side created by the water flowing under the bridge.
Only the mid-section is seen from the road and as she’s not that tall most of the travelers just drive through without stopping to see how beautiful she really is and as a result miss the other two parts, especially the lower section that is the tallest and most beautiful. As expected, the water levels were higher but not exceedingly high I managed to go and take these pictures for you. The sight of this beautiful lady alone was enough to make me feel human again. She was like a warm and delicious coffee that revives yourself after a tiring day. The difference is that she refreshes the whole of you, the body, mind and the soul. That’s the main reason I need to go see some of them again and again to keep myself sane and make me feel that I really am living a life. I’m sure you too will find the same serenity and happiness if you embrace the Mother Nature. She’ll wipe off your tears, take all your burdens onto her shoulders and relieve you of the tension which is building up inside you to the breaking point. So I suggest you go find sanctuary in her and teach your kids and loved ones to do the same not in drugs or internet.
Well, while you guys enjoy the beauty, we’ll drive to Koslanda and take the Poonagala Road which is to the left at the town. Oh, I’m afraid there won’t be any pictures of Diyaluma Ella coz our turn off was well before the falls.
Upper Diyaluma Falls aka Kudalu Ella and Top of the Diyaluma Ella
Here was the tricky part coz finding the exact location to get to the path was a real challenge as there is more than one location you can enter the savannah like forest patch where the stream that feeds Diyaluma Ella goes onto create Kudalu Ella. So we kept driving up the road towards Makaldeniya which is about 4-5km from Koslanda.
If you go through the posts I’ve given above, you’ll see that they’ve gone to the top in different routes and the bad news is most of these paths are now overgrown and difficult to manage according to the villagers. To make things worse, there are many tiny leeches in this area. The problem is they’re hard to see coz of the tiny size and you wouldn’t know until it’s way too late. So be extremely careful.
I’ll tell you the path we took and it looks to be the most sensible one even though it probably is the longest one. So here we go:
- Drive up to Makaldeniya Junction (4.5-5km from Koslanda) and turn to the right from there. Remember the left one is the main Koslanda-B’wela Road that runs via Poonagala.
- Once on the right hand road, you’ll see a construction site with around 10-15 houses which are being built by the SL Army probably for the landslide victims. You’ll have to go passing this and then there’ll be the soldiers’ camp too. The distance up to this point from Makaldeniya is around 500-600m.
- Go passing this but if you come in a vehicle, this is a good place to leave your vehicle and start walking.
- Continue along the road till you reach a gate to your right (the road will fork into a Y shape). The gate should have a notice board saying “Poonagala Nature Resort”. It’s locked and doesn’t look like having opened for ages but you can enter from the right side. It’s about 100-200m from the Army Camp to this point.
- Once you enter the gravel road into Nature Resort, the road will fork into two. The straight one will take you to the Nature Resort but you have to take the right hand road which will become a footpath after another 200m or so. Just remember, it’s always advisable to ask permission from anybody at the Nature Resort.
- Well, from there just follow the footpath for another perhaps 1-1.5km in total. I’ve given you a picture of the Google Maps below to help with that. It’s easy to find this path so long as your phone gets connected to GPS.
We followed the footpath which ran through Mana bushes and Nelli Trees. The mountains and plains of Wellawaya and beyond could be clearly seen. The sun was up but we could see he’s fighting real hard to keep the menacing grey clouds at bay. Just to be on the safe side, we took umbrellas with us. The razor sharp Mana blades bit into our calves drawing blood while the hard-to-spot leeches sought refuge inside our socks. The humidity was as high as it could get and we were sweating like pigs in no time.
The views and the bitter Nelli helped us some way and we arrived at an open space with footpaths branching off to the right and straight. If you take the right hand one, you can go to the top of Kudalu Ella and the cascades of the stream. There’s a huge nice flat rocky surface where you can rest. If you take the path straight, it’ll take you to the top of Diyaluma Ella and about halfway, there’ll be another right hand path to the base of Kudalu Ella as well. I’m sure you’d like some pictures up to this point, wouldn’t you? So here they are:
We took the right hand footpath and after about 100m, reached the top of Kudalu Ella with the huge flat rock I told you before. There were a few mini cascades here and we took a small break too. The stream wasn’t that huge but the signs on either side of it told her that she could get quite big in heavy rains. We then proceeded parallel to the stream towards the top of Kudalu Ella.
Be very careful as the path is covered with grass and you tend to sprain your ankle. The water was falling beautifully over a rock about 20ft in width making many (at least 7) cascades along the way to create this sensual but shy lady. We spent about half hour admiring her and taking pictures. Afterwards, we decided to get back to the main path and continue towards the top of Diyaluma.
As we were leaving, the clouds opened up and it started drizzling. Thankfully we had three large umbrellas that helped cover our cameras and phones. However, the Mother Nature, as usual, took pity on her children and decided to chase the naughty rains away after a few minutes. We were very grateful for that and continued without any issue except for those ant-size leeches. While we carry on, you can enjoy the pictures so far:
We carried on towards the top of the Diyaluma Ella. The rains had eased somewhat but there was a slight drizzle probably to keep us nice and cool from the humidity. Well this looked like a place which sees very little human activities and there was virtually no human-dumped garbage throughout the path. So can I request you to keep it that way should you tempt to go there after reading this article? I don’t wanna be responsible for any harm that comes to this place as a result of my article now, do I? I hope you get the drift and refrain from polluting our environment regardless of where and when. When should we protect our environment? The answer is fairly simple, we must care for our forests, wildlife and natural resources always.
It’s about another 200m to the top of Diyaluma from the turn off to the top of Kudalu Ella. On our way, we encountered almost 5-foot tall Mana bushes which blocked the path and scratched our skin wherever it’s exposed. The bonus point was we could see the beautiful Kudalu Ella from the path and I managed to veer off the main footpath and get closer to her for more pictures. I’m sure you wanna see them too and here they are.
How do you like them? Gorgeous, ain’t she? The clouds are gathering once again trying to conspire against us and I don’t think our guardian angels can keep up with their job for long against the overwhelming odds. So let’s hurry up and make to the top of the 3rd Highest Waterfall in Sri Lanka. This was a dream coming true coz I’d been longing to come here ever since I heard about the possibility of getting to the top. So here I was finally after a lot of day-dreaming. Prasa was probably more excited than I was coz the number of selfies he took increased every passing minute and he beat us all to get to the top.
Oh hello! I was ecstatic with joy and wanted to dance around but the rocky surface was slippery so had to restrain myself with a difficulty. The whole team was mesmerized by what we saw. The stream (well I was very surprised to see how small it is) flowed and entered a couple of rocky pools before coming out through a narrow galley to form this marvel creation of the Mother Nature. The butterfly-shaped rocky pool was like a Jacuzzi but I don’t think you should attempt to bathe in them as the undercurrent must be really strong. So stay at a safe distance.
Over the edge, we could see many miles into the southern and south-western border of Sri Lanka. The dark sky prevented us from getting a clear distant view but what we could see was enough to keep us enchanted. There was the Diyaluma Inn below looking like a kids’ playhouse and the A4 was like a tiny pencil line drawn across a painting at a very peculiar angle. The bridge in front of the Diyaluma was so small I thought it was built for the ants. Well, sure enough I saw a few ants crossing it as I was looking down (of course from a safe distance from the edge). Zooming in those ants turned their shapes into humans with colorful dresses. They were playing with toy vehicles but further zooming revealed them to be buses, tuk-tuks and lorries.
There was a group of people who noticed me and I waved at them. They were very surprised and started talking among themselves very animatedly. They probably have though either I was trying to climb down the falls or going to commit suicide. Well they were wrong on both counts. While my focus was on the area below, Diyaluma Ella could be seen at an angle but only slightly. I didn’t wanna get a better picture coz it’d have sent me over the edge and I’d never have lived to see that picture. So I decided to be content with the tiny view I got from where I was standing. My team in the meantime was busy with taking pictures and I must also go and join them. You can enjoy these pictures while I do my photo shoot.
Hotel Mount Pleasant
We retraced our steps back to the vehicle and as we were leaving, the skies opened up like a gigantic cave and unleashed her power in the form of gram-shaped drops. It was falling so hard on the vehicle roof I was scared it’d pierce through like armor-piercing bullets from a 0.5 browning machine gun. The drive turned out to be very challenging and Ana had to wrestle with the steering to keep us moving safely. We had initially planned to do the Millennium and Pilkington Point. Oh there’s a little joke related to the Pilkington Point as most of the people tend to mispronounce it as Bill Clinton Point. Those who know the real one then ask where the Monika Lewinsky Point is. Well our plans were rain-swept so we decided to come back another time to go see them and decided to head straight to B’Wela. Oh blimey, the time had flown and we were already way too late as it’d just gone 12 noon.
The rain kept up till we reached B’Wela and on the way we passed the Doolgolla Ella about 6km before B’Wela. I’m sure you can remember it coz I visited her last time I was in B’Wela. The link on the notes would take you there if you’ve not seen her. We got to the hotel around 2.30pm and immediately went to have a nice hot shower. The rains were still falling but it wasn’t so cold as I was expecting. As I mentioned at notes, Mount Pleasant is a boutique-type hotel with 3-4 rooms but luxuriously furnished. It’s Rs. 6500/- per triple room (B&B) and Rs. 5500/- per double room (B&B). Well, it’s worth for the price but the downsize is the meals are expensive even though they are delicious. So I suggest you eat outside if it proves too much for you. The washrooms are larger than most of the hotel rooms and very clean with fresh towels. Linen and beds are fresh and clean and very comfortable giving you a good rest. Their service is also really great and they’d make you feel at home tending to your needs promptly. Ok, while we have a bath and lunch, you enjoy some of the pictures of the hotel so that it’d be easy to make up your minds.
Well, we took a nap afterwards and then around 7.30pm, walked towards the B’Wela town which is less than half a km away from the hotel. Our plan was to take the night mail coming from Colombo at 5.30am from B’Wela and go all the way to Kital Ella and do the rail hike from there towards Demodara. However, Sri Lankan Railway being SL Railway is notorious for arriving on time. The only thing they seem to do is departing on time from their home stations. They are still highly dependent on the colonial-era signal system which has rarely been upgraded or maintained properly thus causing these never-ending delays almost all the time.
Afterwards, it was time for, well you guessed correctly knowing our patterns, a much needed dinner. After a hearty meal which tasted delicious, we all tucked in our comfortable beds and were dead to the world in no time. Good night and see you at 5.00am.
Good morning, I hope you all slept well and of course we slept like yule logs thanks to the comfortable beds and feather soft pillows. It was so hard to open my eyes and look at the time coz it felt as if they were sealed tight with wax. Prasa made some coffee (you’re given some coffee sachets and an electric kettle in the room too) and I dragged myself from under the blankets as if a hibernating bear coming out of his cave. It took a while to get the focus on and after a wash and a steaming mug of coffee, I felt human again.
We got ready and were given a packed sandwich breakfast to be taken with us. By 5.15am we were at the station which was isolated except for a couple of pools of water which glistened in the halogen lamps. There was no sign of the train coming on time and we managed to find a sleep-walking worker who informed that there’s a delay due to some earth slips or something and it might be 6.15 or even later by the time the train arrived. See I told you that they can never be trusted.
Well, we had no time to kill coz we wanted to be on the move at first light as the rains would come midday. So we decided to improvise and took a Wellawaya bus and got off at Ella Tunnel.
It was just after 6am and we decided to walk towards Kital Ella along the railway up to Ravana Ella and then retrace our steps and walk up to Demodara. There wasn’t a hint of the rain yet we carried our umbrellas just in case and they acted as walking sticks throughout the journey. The railway line and the sleepers were very slippery due to the constant drizzle in the last few days so we stepped on very cautiously. The sun was battling his way up from the east lighting the Ella Rock off Kital Ella Station. It was a very welcoming sight but the distant layer of clouds kept interfering with the photographs.
All of a sudden we heard this massive roar and jumped out of the track coz the night mail was due at any moment which we left at B’Wela. The roar kept coming but no sign of the train. So we very carefully walked forward and realized it wasn’t the night mail that was creating so much noise after all. It was the roaring flow of water from the Ravana Ella. Within a very short time we arrived at the first sight of her. Well she had more water compared to the previous occasions.
This is what’s so amazing about waterfalls. No matter how many times you see them, you’ll always find them amusing and enchanting every time you revisit them. Ravana Ella (I guess I’ve done enough explaining about the difference between Bambaragama Ella and Ravana Ella) truly is a sensual and lustrous lady who never ceases to keep me captivated. I was rooted to the ground while I admired the sheer beauty unfolding in front of my eyes. To be honest, I’d never have heard even if an Airbus A380 landed right next to me. She was that mesmerizing and I have to keep indulging my addiction to seeing the waterfalls again and again. Well folks, I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are the sensual pictures of this lady.
Up to 9-Arch Bridge
We started walking back towards Ella as our target for seeing the Ravana Ella was fulfilled. The sun was breaking out through the clouds bathing the surrounding with his golden syrup colored rays. The wet leaves glistened in the morning light and a slight mist left their tips evaporating the dew collected overnight. The oil-slicked metal sleepers were deadly slippery so we had to step on with caution. On the other hand we had to keep looking over our shoulder as the Badulla-bound night mail was due at any minute. Ella station came into view in no time and we hurried on. A long and sleek sky blue S12 was waiting on the outside track which is the Colombo-bound Podi Menike. She had to stay until the night mail passed her.
Suddenly we heard the unmistakable rumble of the old German granny coming fast towards the station as she was already very late. They met at the station and the German lady frowned at the young Chinese lass showing her disdain at this cheap looking heap of hard plastic. While they exchanged glances we decided to take a break and started on our breakfast. After all it was not just the train engines which were growling, our tummies too. So while we satiate our rumbling tummies, you can enjoy some of the pictures including the encounter between the German and the Chinese. I’ll back Germans any day over Chinese, lols.
The breakfast was tasty but barely enough for us. I kept wishing for more and managed to grab some off Prasa. Well, we saw some police officers at the station standing and waiting. I know the uniforms of Railway Guards and ordinary cops are very much similar and most of the time you mistake one for the other but these were real cops. However we walked past them and entered onto the railway line and found a very strange notice board which seemed to have place fairly recently. It’s best I show it to you before moving further.
Well, what do you think about this? We found the real reason behind these newly erected notices. There’d been a mugging incident recently where two old foreigners were threatened with knives and robbed of some money (we heard it was around Rs. 6000/-) after throwing chili powder at them (I hope those stupid robbers didn’t see these foreigners as a pot of curry). Since then the police had entered the scene and started patrolling the railway line from Ella all the way up to Demodara. Can you just imagine the amount of manpower, time and money wasted on these errands just because of some greedy and probably drug addicted thieves’ acts?
It’s a great shame on us as a country but well we can’t expect the same decent behavior from everybody alike, can we now? We met quite a few cops along the railway line patrolling with guns and two of them were even stationed on the small hill at the other end of the 9-Arch Bridge where there’s a café called “Asanka Café” and we managed to have some tea while enjoying a panoramic and aerial view of this architectural marvel in Sri Lankan Railway History.
We walked along the fairly isolated stretch of railway till the 40th Tunnel beyond which lies the 9-Arch Bridge. If you can remember, this was the first of my rail hikes which we did from B’Wela to Uduwara more than two years ago. There was another warning sign near the tunnel and here are some pictures till then.
As soon as we emerged from the tunnel was the moment of truth. The mighty 9-Arch Bridge was in front of us in her sensual form that attracts visitors from all four corners of the world. She’s a sight that can make anybody wow no matter how many times they’ve seen her before. It’s always a brand new experience and we were no exception. Just moving slightly to the left of the railway we could see the full height of those neatly bound rocks towering almost 100ft to the deep raving below. There were wasp nests along the rocky wall which get disturbed every time a train goes over the bridge. So it’s not safe to walk along the bridge as soon as a train passes.
We had timed it perfectly to see a train on the bridge but still had about 1hr to kill. So seeing people on the hill across the bridge, we started climbing up hoping to get a better view. There was a sign saying “Asanka Café” and we thought of having a cuppa tea from there. Climbing up we began to realize the prospective views we’d be able to have and I almost ran uphill wanting to make sure that I was really seeing what I was seeing. The bridge went lower and lower as we climbed higher and higher. We were beginning to get a bird’s eye view of the bridge and finally when we got to the top; it was nothing short of sheer amazement that welcomed us.
There were two cops on watch duty and they were very friendly and talked with us while Asanka, the owner of the house and the would-be café, went to make some plain tea for us. There were 3 young boys too who were very curious to show us around and share their knowledge. They were very fond of Ana and even posed for a picture with him. Wonder if he reminded them of Santa Clause as this was early December.
While we’re waiting for the second S12 coming from Badulla (Udarata Menike), you can enjoy some pictures.
Ok, it’s the time for the hallmark of the journey, isn’t it? The most-awaited time of the whole journey was about to come true as the Udarata Menike was revving up her huge diesel engines at Demodara waiting to come and show us how beautiful she’d look on one of the most remarkable railway bridge not just in Sri Lanka, but in the whole world. Everyone was highly excited, especially us coz this was going to be one unique experience for us.
The hill where the train goes around at Demodara (Demodara Leap) was visible at the far distance and we saw the faint blue caterpillar winding its way around this but the distance and the haziness of the fiery rays of the sun made it so hard to take a quality picture. After it felt like an eternity, we heard the distant growl and after a while we saw her crossing the open ground just before the Rock Tunnel (No. 41) and managed to take a few pictures.
I gave a 60-second training on how to take amazing videos using a Lumia to one of the boys and got him to press the button and hold the phone rock steady at the bridge while I concentrated on the pictures with my point-n-shoot. There came the moment of truth and we took a few decent pictures and I was still anxious about the video. I shouldn’t have worried coz that little fella had held the phone like it was mounted on a tripod and the video was crystal clear. I was ecstatic. Well here are the pictures you’re itching to see.
Having bid our farewell and thanking profusely to Asanka and the little boys, we resumed our journey towards Demodara. The sun was in full force and a couple of grey clouds were appearing from Ella. The ferocity of the sun signaled of rains so we stepped up our pace. Not long before we heard another huge rumbling coming behind us and got panicked coz there was no other train scheduled at that time. Could this be a goods train which has got very late? Knowing the notorious reputation of those slow moving snails, that was quite possible. So we jumped to the side of the track and turned around just in time to see a rail cart coming downhill like an F1 Car. It was so frightening and had we not been alert, it’d have knocked us clean out of the track killing us instantly. I wonder why they can’t use some kinda horn to warn the people on the railway without blasting their way like maniacs.
We passed some beautiful scenery and reached the Gotuwala Ella. Well it’s the name I gave her coz she’s located by the railway in Gotuwala Village. There was a substantial amount of water thanks to the intermittent rains and you can check out these pictures till then.
The clouds were coming thick and fast and we had to keep going in order to avoid getting soaked. Our initial plan was to go see the Demodara Black Bridge too before getting into the train but the rain made us change our plans. We decided to take the next available train without waiting for another one hour for the next Kandy bound one. So when we reached the station, there was a large group of people had gathered behind the station to witness the train appearing underneath the station via the Tunnel No. 42.
We too joined the parade and managed to squeeze through a gap in the human wall. All of a sudden the ground started shaking as if an earthquake. Then with a huge flume of smoke appeared the grumbling M6 carrying 6 more heavily laden carriages behind her. She then took a right turn at the far corner and we returned to the station to wait for her. It started to drizzle and we managed to jump into a third class carriage (well the only one) and sat by the window.
My plan to capture the 9-Arch Bridge through the window shattered as the rain intensified making it impossible to take the camera out. So I simply sat and enjoyed the view getting soaked in the dripping water. But as the bridge got closer, I couldn’t resist my temptation and quickly snapped couple of pictures but only a couple was in decent quality. Ok, it’s time we had some break and you may enjoy the rest of the pictures.
The evening went without an incident and we repeated the day before schedule. Lunch, nap, chat, dinner and bed once again; exactly in that order. We’ll see you tomorrow at another historical place which is the Haldummulla Portuguese Fort, or whatever remaining at the site among the pine trees.
We got up early as usual and got ready for an early departure. By 6am, we were ready for our breakfast. After a sumptuous meal, we bid our farewell to the Mount Pleasant and its staff who were very friendly and hospitable and were on our way. The whole surrounding up to Haputale was under the cover of mist but the sun was coming up lighting the distant mountains. We reached Beragala and started to keep an eye out for the archaeological sign of Haldummulla Fort.
There are two paths to the fort site. The first is at the Old Haldummulla Town where the archaeological notice is found. You can climb up in front of the board through the tiny footpath. You have to go up (according to a villager near the signage) for about 3/4km. As the path was too steep and was infested with leeches, we asked the same person if there was any alternative route. He is an ex school principal and went onto show us a book written by him about the historical things in and around Haldummulla. He then pointed out that there’s a well paved road to the Needwood Tea Factory from where it’s a nice and short walk to the site. We decided to take that road.
You have to take the Needwood Factory Road at the 176th km post and drive about 3km to the factory. Then go through the factory gates and there’s a path around the right hand corner of it. From there it’s just a matter of finding your way asking around. Trust me, it’s a walk in the park. We found the place with no problem but it was hard to believe as the remains were nothing but a mound of earth completely covered by pine needles and an L-shaped portion of a rocky parapet wall. The pines have added a sort of mysterious look and the fort complex was completely shady thanks to the towering trees.
We walked about taking pictures which I’m gonna show you now.
We carried on and got back in to our workhorse and headed downhill calling it a journey and go home. Passing Bambarakanda turn off made us wanna go there once again but the mind overpowered the heart so we went on. Near the Surathali Ella where you can see her above the tree line was too much of a temptation so we stopped and went on foot to take a look at her.
She had more water than the last time I saw her which was very pleasing. Yet, it wasn’t her full flow so we have to wait patiently for our chance. Unfortunately the gigantic tree near the tiny cave closer to the base of the falls (I hope you remember it if you’d been there before) had fallen probably due to the heavy rains blocking the original footpath. Nothing to worry coz you can circle around the base of the tree and get back to the falls. It really was one helluva tree coz the diameter of the trunk was so huge.
Well as some might say, she probably had the most appropriate amount of water coz we could see this pure white creamy flow and the rugged but worn out rocky surface. It was a sight worth seeing especially when mixed with the blue and white sky above and the lush greenery around. Ok, here are the pictures coz I know you’re impatient to see them rather than reading my vivid imagination.
Well, that’s about it guys. Hope you enjoyed it as much as me. Will see you again with another fairy tale. Until then, take care and keep wondering around.