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|Year and Month||16-17 Jul, 2014|
|Number of Days||2|
|Crew||Harinda and Me with two of his friends (Eranga and Gabriel)|
|Accommodation||Pitadeniya Conservation Centre|
|Transport||By Motor Bike|
|Activities||Waterfall Hunting, Photography, etc…|
|Route||Maharagama->Horana->Bandaragama->Mathugama->Pelawatte->Neluwa->Thawalama and back to Neluwa.
Neluwa->Thambalagama->Warukandeniya->Lankagama->Pitadeniya->Mederipitiya->Pallegama->Hathmale Ella and back to Pallegama->Deniyaya->Morawaka->Neluwa and back to Colombo.
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Hiya folks, hope you’ve been doing great and reading plenty of other trip reports and gathering intelligence for the future journeys. Well, here I’m once again with another of Tour de Waterfalls for you to read and enjoy, don’t forget to follow my steps if you’ve not already done so.
It’d been a long time since Harinda and I’d gone on a journey together and when he said that he was gonna get 6 days straight off, I decided to reap the benefits. Hari’s initial plan to visit “Eli Hatha” in Maliboda had to be called off due to intermittent rains and falling on a sudden plan B (in fact it’d been nagging at me for the past year or so), I suggested we visit Pitadeniya searching for some more waterfalls (possibly following Niroshana’s Steps) in and around Neluwa, Lankagama and Pitadeniya.
As per Niro’s report, he’d mentioned about Wedan Ella (unfortunately not been able to visit her) on Neluwa-Thawalama Road. When I mentioned this to Hari, he said that one of his friends, Gabriel is from Thawalama and I prompted him to get the info about this Wedan Ella.
He came up trumps as Gabriel not only knew the falls, but offered to take us and join for the subsequent journey as well. Another friend of Hari, Eranga (Eran for short) who’s originally from Matara also decided to join us for their first-ever hike in this category. Don’t forget to ask Hari how Gabriel and Eranga got their names. It was one of their immigration department friends who found out rather created them.
Hari decided to call Niro asking about the PCC (short for Pitadeniya Conservation Centre) and coincidently he’d been at the Forest Department Office making a booking for Morning Side Bungalow. (Until Niro sends his report, you can check my Morning Side Journey here) He found out that the Gin Ganga Nivahana is free and Hari made the booking on the following day. Everything was planned and we left for Neluwa along Kottawa-Horana-Bandaragama-Pelawatte around 5.00am (even though Hari was planning to come at 4.30am) merrily. The morning breeze chilled us to the marrow and this time unlike our last time when we did Kosmulla Doovili and the Classic Five of Lankagama (Read Hari’s Report) the roads were carpeted and in better condition but Hari’s workhorse refused to go any faster.
1. Wedan Ella, Thawalama.
2. Thambalagama Doovili Ella, Thambalagama.
3. Thambalagama Lower Doovili Ella, Thambalagama.
4. Alibodadola Ella, Warukandeniya.
5. Kohilaketiya Ella, Lankagama.
6. Thattu Ella, Lankagama.
7. Lankagama Doovili Ella, Lankagama.
8. Gal Oruwa Ella, Lankagama.
9. Uran Wetuna Ella, Lankagama.
10. Nuga Deka Ella, Lankagama.
11. Pathan Oya Ella aka Upper Aranuwa Falls, Pitadeniya.
12. Malmora Ella, Pitadeniya.
13. Kekuna Ella aka Wathugala Ella aka Lower Aranuwa Falls, Pitadeniya.
14. Hathmale Ella, Pallegama.
We reached Neluwa around 8.30am turned to Udugama Road that runs via Thawalama. Gabriel’s house was about 4-5km from the Neluwa Town and we reached there to find a sumptuous breakfast waiting impatiently for us. Rice and curry along with boiled grams and hot Kochchi made the day and we were given packed Grams for lunch too. Gabriel and his family were great hosts (a vegetarian family) and we got the proper directions from his father to the falls and the correct name “Wedan Ella”.
This is located in Suduwellawa, along Neluwa-Thawalama-Udugama road about 3.5km from Neluwa Town. Take the right turn (I’ve given a pic given so that you can identify the turn off) along for about 1km till you reach a house with a footpath running in front to the right. If you go by a vehicle, you can’t go beyond this point; however motor bike will be able to get closer to the waterfall. Take the footpath and about 50 feet later (not meters) it’ll fork into two and take the left hand downhill path all the way. After 100-150m, there’ll be a crossing across the canal that feeds the Wedan Ella. On a rainy day, this would be tricky, especially on a motor bike.
Go from here another 50m or so (the water stream will be to your right) till you reach another fork in the path. One will go to the left (more prominent) and the other will be a bit steep path to the right (you will have to climb a bit to get to the path). From here, you should be able to hear the waterfall and the stream will take a turn to the right. You can easily get to the top of the falls from here by crossing the open area towards the stream carefully.
Just take the right hand path should you wanna get to the base of the falls that runs through tea bushes and after a short distance, you can see the falls to your right. You can get to the base of the falls by following the footpath till the water stream (at the lower end of the path you’ll see an abandoned structure with a well) and walk along uphill the stream.
She was a very beautiful girl, dressed in pristine white and falling down so smoothly (if she was in full flow, getting to the bottom would’ve been a nightmare). We enjoyed our short time with her and Hari being the bulldozer decided to take a short cut and cleared a path through the bushes that brought us to the tea plants and from there to the footpath.
We got back to the Thawalama-Neluwa Road and reached Neluwa and followed the road towards Lankagama turn off when Eran realized Hari’s bike had a puncture. This cost us about 45 mins of precious time but saved lot of trouble as there are no decent repair shops on Lankagama Road. Hari rushed back to Neluwa while we sat on electricity poles and chatted. None of his friends had been to these falls let alone Sinharaja even though staying so close to it. So it was gonna be a first for both of them.
Thamabalagama Doovili Ella
Passing Kosmulla where famous Doovili Ella is located without stopping by coz both Hari and I had been there before, we pushed on towards Thambalagama. You’ll see the Thambalagama Temple to the left (the name will be there on a board with a Buddhist Flag) and just passing this and a bus stop to the right, you will come to a turn off. There’ll be a concrete paved path to the left (this is called Kabaragala or Indigaswila Road) where the Grama Sevaka’s house is located. The left hand turn off is not that visible, the land mark is a Kottamba Tree and open paddy field beyond it.
Take this road till the end of it (about 1.5km from the Lankagama Road, where the concrete paved area is finished). There’s a house to the left and you’ll come to a T junction. The left will be the entrance to the house and you have to take the right hand path. The concrete paved path is so steep and you’ll have trouble even walking along but should be possible with a vehicle up to the last house. Take the right hand footpath for about 100-150m till you reach the water stream with a rudimentary wooden bridge. Follow the water stream to the left, uphill for another 100m or so till you get to the majestic Thambalagama Doovili Ella. If you turn right and follow the water stream downhill, there’ll be 2 more mini falls close by, the first of which is very beautiful and around 12ft in height.
After this we headed further along Lankagama Road towards Warukandeniya.
Thambalagama Lower Doovili Falls
From the wooden bridge turn to the right downstream and you’ll come across this beautiful tiny falls. There’s a footpath that takes you to the base of the falls just before the bridge to the right. You’ll notice another smaller falls a little below as well.
We then reached the Warukandeniya School and Temple Road junction and took the School Road to the left. This turn off is about 4-5km before Lankagama itself. About 100ft from the junction is a notice about the Alibodadola Hydro Power Plant to the right and a foot path that leads to a house. Take that and closer to the house go further downhill and you’ll come to a footpath that runs parallel to the stream which is on the right.
Follow this and after 100m or so, you’ll come to a place where you’ll have to cross the stream and can see the power plant across the waterway. There’s a tree as a bridge (Edanda) across the water stream and once you cross that, you’ll be at the power plant. Behind this is the footpath that runs about 1km till the waterfall. The tunnel that brings water to the power plant runs along this footpath. The waterfall is located where the dam is built to collect and divert water. The path is slippery and leeches are there in full force.
You can see the full falls above the dam and another mini falls below it. There’s another tiny falls about 50-100m before the dam but there was very little water so we didn’t bother getting closer to it through the bushes.
Afterwards it was time to go searching for Beraliya Dola aka Ratawel Dola Falls. We took the school road further up for another 1km or so till we saw the temple to our right and turned towards it. Just before the temple there’s another footpath that goes to a house about 50m away and take that. From the house you have to take another footpath that goes somewhat uphill through tea bushes.
We were informed by the household that the water levels were very low and said if we took the footpath for 100-150m till we climbed up closer to a Veralu Tree, that we can get a distant view of the falls. So we did just that and even though we could hear the water flowing along Beraliya Dola, the place where the waterfall was said to be was nothing but a rocky wall. In fact this was the Beraliya Gal Anda Falls and there was more to go for the Beraliya Dola aka Ratawel Dola Falls. We couldn’t actually see the whole of it but that abysmal view kinda sealed it for us. We decided not to push on and waste time and instead turned around and pushed on towards Lankagama.
Waterfalls of Lankagama
We reached Lankagama around 2.30pm and decided to pay a visit to those cluster of waterfalls within close proximity despite Hari and me having done it last November. I was nonetheless skeptical about the water levels but looking at Brahmana Falls from the Lankagama Bridge made me wanna go see them again. Last time I couldn’t take a video of Lankagama Doovili Ella so this seemed like a good opportunity.
We got the tickets luckily just before they closed the counter as there were not many visitors and entered the virgin forest.
As you might know, the trails divided into 3 parts, the left taking you to Brahmana Falls (usually this is done at last), the middle and the right joins in a circular trail. They usually take the middle one and then circle around and come down along the right hand side footpath. We did the same like the last time.
However, this time, I noticed something unusual. As soon as we reached the water stream (Hariyawa Dola) just below the Mahagaldoruwa, there’s a dam built diverting the water towards the mini hydro power plant near the bridge. However, the spill and other streams make a somewhat larger waterfall. I stopped in my tracks and slowly got closer to it despite Hari’s protest about not having enough time. “5 mins per waterfall buddy” I shouted after him. Gosh, she was a beauty but a frontal view was out of the question and I had to contend with side angle view of her. She reminded me of a compact version of Dodamgallena Falls in Rassagala Road. Does this make the Classic 5 now 6?
Crossing the Hariyawa Dola (Hari kept saying that it was named after him and show how old he really is if it’s the case) we entered the ever so wide Thattu Ella. Nonetheless, the water levels compared to our last visit were not grand but better than the ones outside Sinharaja. There was a group of people already visiting and they were settling for a cool dip at the base pool and we kept on, after my 5 min picture break, towards Lankagama Doovili ella.
Lankagama Doovili Ella
Out of all the Doovili Falls in Sri Lanka, this is my second favorite after Kaltota Doovili Ella. She’s so glamorous in a very different way but even sitting inside Sinharaja hasn’t left her unscathed. They’ve diverted water from the top of her and due to the relatively low level of water we could see the pipeline clearly. Our two new guys were hypnotized by the sheer beauty of her and we turned around and followed the path back to Mahagaldoruwa.
Gal Oruwa Ella
You’ll then have to go uphill in search of Gal Oruwa, well there’ nothing to search as it’s there to see in plain view and above her you’ll see the lower part of Uran Wetuna Ella and it’s near impossible to get to the base of it. She as usual looks very fearsome and scary. I couldn’t fathom falling into that crevice.
This is when our guide mentioned about another waterfall which is to be unveiled pretty soon, as long as Forest Department folks get to it. This is called Nuga Deka Ella (as it falls between two Nuga trees, unfortunately one had fallen off during the heavy rains and hopefully they won’t change the name to Nuga Eka Ella) and located above the top of Uran Wetuna Ella.
Uran Wetuna Ella
Further away from Gal Oruwa Ella is the middle of Uran Wetuna Ella. You can clearly see the upper part of it and a side view of the lower part while coming up to the center. Due to low water levels I could get up closer to the base of the upper falls and from there I saw the distant view of Nuga Deka Falls. You can probably see it in one of videos. So this is breaking news I’m bringing you. According to the guide, they have plans to clear the path very soon to the base of it and that means you’ll get to the top of the Uran Wetuna Ella too.
Last of the collection was Brahmana Ella and we stopped to get a much needed rest. She too had less water than the last time but better than many in the area.
Pitadeniya Conservation Centre
We then went to the nearby shop to buy the food items required for our stay. After a lot of deliberation, we were finally on our way about 4.30pm. To our horror, the road from Lankagama to Pitadeniya is under construction and there were half a dozen places the whole road is completely muddy and practically impassable even on foot let alone in a bike. Hari and Eran took the brunt of the work and kept going getting their shoes drenched in the mud a few times. Finally we reached the Aranuwa Bridge where the village connects with the Sinharaja across Aranuwa Dola.
They’d started concreting the road but only done about 50 feet and from what we heard the going was very slow. Hopefully they’ll finish it before the end of the year. Well here we were at the border of the one of the most prestigious rain forest in the world and I’ve managed to finally arrive in all 4 entrances to the Sinharaja.
It was a godsend that we decided to come on bikes as it’s possible to reach the PCC on bikes easily. If you however come using other means of travelling, this is where you stop them and start walking. It’s roughly 600-800m to the PCC and a walk worth every step. The whole path is shaded and you can hear birds chirping (this is a bird heaven, let me tell ya) and we rode along, the cool breeze and the shade reviving our battered bodies.
We reached the suspension bridge across Gin Ganga, the length is about 50m and there was a tiny concrete layer joining the steps so that bikes could go through. Hari and Eran carefully maneuvered to the other side and we were finally home as the dusk was falling. Having checked in with the duty officer we were shown to the kitchen to hand over our goods and the cook took down our orders for the rest of the stay. Then we reached our bungalow, “Gin Ganga Nivahana” which looked tranquil amid the falling dusk and we could see the river flowing merrily about 100ft away.
Unexpectedly, the two (a triple and a double) rooms were sparsely furnished and the washroom was in very good condition. We’d arranged for the electricity to be on from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and immediately went for a bath in the river. Hari started giving swimming lessons to Gabriel and Eran while I looked on. The darkness fell heavily on us enveloping the surroundings like a black coat. There was a hint of rain in the air and we hurried back to the bungalow to find it’s already illuminating with electricity.
We reflected on the day’s events and planned for the following day. After a hearty dinner, we all settled in for the night, wrapped in blankets against the chill. Continuous flow of the river kept us company while the night life of the jungle came awake. We had a good sleep and I was up early kick-waking Hari.
Having got up early and after our morning tea, we went for a stroll along the path where we came on the bike previous evening. It was still slightly dark inside the forest and we enjoyed it to the max. We walked up to Aranuwa Bridge and turned around. Got back at the PCC and went about getting ready for the day. Having packed everything coz the guide said it’d take 4-5hrs to finish the trail, we went for breakfast. Then it was time to head into the jungle searching for three more sexy girls hiding from the prying eyes.
Pathan Oya Ella
We had to get back to Aranuwa Bridge once again as the trail starts along the Aranuwa Dola under the bridge. As soon as we entered, noticed a green vine snake. On the way there were a few more snakes which we couldn’t see properly but one of them was a specie of the green vine snake but reddish brown in color. There was another green lizard (Bodilima if I’m not mistaken) but forgotten the actual name.
We reached the waterfall soon enough despite a few hallmark breaks of Hari. It was 1.5km from the turn off and the path was fully shaded. It’s an experience every human being should get. The falls looked so beautiful but the peering sun made it difficult as it was in our face. After a countless number of Hari’s pleas, we left for Kekuna Ella.
On our back we took the path parallel to Aranuwa Dola which creates both Pathan Oya Ella aka Upper Aranuwa Falls and Kekuna aka Lower Aranuwa aka Wathugala Ella towards the lower end before joining Gin Ganga. We reached the Kekuna Ella but without stopping to appreciate her looks, kept on going towards Malmora Ella about 2.5km away on a leech-infested and less-travelled footpath. According to our guide, not many people visit Malmora Falls, their main attraction is Kekuna Ella and a few of them dare visit Pathan Oya Ella.
I was surprised how effective Alum was against leeches. Eran was unaffected since he applied them and we were doubly affected as a result. It seemed to take forever through largely overgrown path at many places, fallen trees blocking it then and there. All of a sudden, our guide pointed at a Pala Polanga (Sri Lankan Green Pit Viper, thanks Google) which was perched on a tree in its typical entangled way, without moving a muscle. It was my first sighting of a kind and took a long time picturing the fella while leeches slowly crept up on me.
Afterwards it was a run to the falls and when we reached there, I was shocked by the sheer height of it but there was very little water. Having spent about 15 mins replenishing our water stocks, we hurried back all the way to Kekuna Ella without stopping for a bit.
After the somewhat difficult hike, Kekuna Ella looked even more appealing, especially up close. We all jumped into the water so wash away the weariness and tension in the muscles. The water was cool to the touch as we all enjoyed a nice half hour of blissful joy. It was sad to bid farewell to this beauty, most beautiful out of the three in Pitadeniya but we had a long journey back. There was a large crowd, about 50-60 people who’d come from Padiyatalawa to enjoy the beauty of Kekuna Ella.
We left and on the way saw the gigantic Hora Tree, significant one similar to Nawanda Tree at Kudawa. We all enjoyed a good lunch and bid our farewell to the staff at PCC and got on our bikes to head towards Deniyaya via Mederipitiya and Pallegama as Hari wanted to avoid the muddy road at all costs. As soon as we left Eran, trying to climb a steep and narrow hill on our way, fell sending an alarm through us. Thankfully he wasn’t seriously hurt, and the bike suffered a broken side mirror. We then rode carefully over the narrow path towards Deniyaya End, about 1.5km.
From the ticket counter, the road was in terrible condition for another 800-1000m. Afterwards it was a scenic drive through lush green paddy fields and hilly forests in the distance.
She was the secret ace up our sleeves. We reached Pallegama and turned right towards Beliaththakumbura. About 4km from the turn off there’s a sign (you might miss if you don’t keep an eye out for it) to your right with a slab-paved road called Hathmale Ella Road. This is just before a iron-railing bridge, a good landmark should you oversee the sign.
Along this road, you have to go for another 2.3km to reach the falls. The road will parallel the Gin Ganga and the falls is created by this massive water stream stopping abruptly and then crashing along the very wide rocky wall. We were tired but just the sight of this waterfall made my heart beat faster and ran the short path with steps downhill while rest of the crew were crawling by. She was a sight to behold and worth every second of it.
The legend says she falls in 7 segments but we could see clearly 4 major parts. There were only 50+ pics remaining in my memory card so I had to be very careful of the pics I took. Gosh it hurt to have only that many left but managed to finish them off just on time. Luckily there were no more photographic opportunities along the journey back.
Bidding our farewell to this sensational girl, we got back on the bikes and settled for the long journey back. It was gone 10pm by the time we reached home and Hari was falling asleep at the handle.
Well, guys hope you enjoyed this marathon of waterfalls and thinking about a suitable name, my phone rang, the ringing tone is “Ikigasa Handana, Atheethayaka” by Amarasiri Pieris of “Butterfly Symphony” so decided to call this report “Waterfall Symphony” as it really is like a symphony that makes your mind and body relax at the same time.
Hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed getting this across to you. I’ll see you next with my 2nd Year Anniversary Report, yet another waterfall hunt like the 1st Year Anniversary. Coincidently, this time too I happened to be with my beloved, now dying, St. Claire and amazing Devon…
Take care and keep travelling!