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City filled with adventure, excitement, activity and relaxation all combined in one.

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In case it’s not already the case, Ella is soon becoming one of the busiest and most visited town throughout the year in the Hill country. There is a very laid-back atmosphere while being extremely versatile as Ella is blessed with a relatively cool climate that lasts the whole year round.

This beautiful town is lush with green covered mountains, numerous tea plantations, streams & waterways that lead to breathtaking waterfalls and stunning mountain-top views.

Though best travelled in the scenic Train ride, the drive up to Ella is equally breathtaking. Ella is best explored by foot and is filled with countless legends which may be why it’s a city that is best known for its trekking expeditions. The mountain-tops are almost always covered by pillowy clouds and the waterfalls are misty. Its’ hiking trails take you through and lead you to some breathtaking sceneries which are very rarely crowded. The surroundings are full of trees and jungles – green, vast and spacious – offering an abundance of fresh air that one can never have enough of.

In contrast, the city is bustling with a variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from. The atmosphere is welcoming and one will be spoilt for choice with the array of food and drinks available in the busy city.

Home to Sri Lanka’s first ever Mega Zip Line, that adds more adrenaline to your outdoor experience by stretching across more than half a kilometer, the adventure park in Ella also offers hillside experiences such as ATV/quad bike rides, abseiling, archery air rifling and an air swing too.

Ella is a city filled with adventure, excitement, activity and relaxation all combined in one.

The Train Ride – To Ella

A small journey on the train yet, a journey one should not miss when travelling in Sri Lanka.

The train ride / trip to Ella is not only taken by tourists but by locals themselves. This isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s life for the people of Sri Lanka. The lush green hills are purely breathtaking. The train takes you high into the mountains, through dense forest & vibrant green tea fields, over bridges, through tunnels, local villages and beside smiling faces. If you look closely every so often, you’ll notice the colorfully dressed ladies pop their heads up amongst the tea fields as they carry on with their work. The stations are old & the trains are even older, but this adds so much character to the journey.

Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash

Little Adams Peak

Named after the sacred Adams Peak (‘Sri Pada’ – where the foot print of Lord Buddha is preserved) due to the similarity between the two mountains, “Punchi Sri Pada” is another name for this peak. It is 1141 m in height and involves a 30 min hike from its base. Little Adam’s Peak attracts many travelers who come to Sri Lanka. Some use the ‘Mini Adam’s peak’ as a trial run before attempting the actual climb up the actual ‘Adam’s peak’ itself. The hike up to the mountain of Little Adams Peak is gradual and easy. It’s a pleasurable walk through lush green tea plantations, waterfalls and paddy fields while enjoying the sceneries all the way up. Once at the top you will be consumed by a panoramic view that will make you realize that your effort was worthwhile.

📷 by Brian Wimalasinghe @backpacker_brian

Nine Arch Bridge

The Nine arch bridge is undeniably one of the best examples of colonial-era railway construction in the country. Also called the Bridge in the sky, this spectacular bridge is located between the Ella and Demodara railway stations. Built entirely out of brick rock and cement, it is said to have not involved a single piece of steel and stands solid from its completion back in 1921. This stunning masterpiece is one of the most visited and photographed bridges in Sri Lanka especially as a walk across the bridge presents breathtakingly delightful scenes of rolling hills and dense jungle.

The construction of the bridge is generally attributed to a local Ceylonese builder, P. K. Appuhami, in consultation with British engineers. The chief designer and project manager of the ‘Upcountry railway line of Ceylon’ project was D. J. Wimalasurendra, a distinguished Ceylonese engineer and inventor. The designer of the viaduct was Harold Cuthbert Marwood of Railway Construction Department of Ceylon Government Railway. The 1923 report titled “Construction of a Concrete Railway Viaduct in Ceylon” published by the Engineering Association of Ceylon has details of all the records including the plans and drawings.

Photo by Oliver Frsh on Unsplash

Ella Rock

A hike up to Ella Rock involves some amazingly breathtaking views. The path leading to the peak is picturesque and involves a 3-hour hike which is averagely strenuous with distant view of the tea plantations with pluckers at work, Namunukula mountain range and Little Adam’s peak. The highest viewpoint up the Ella rock greets you with a steep drop and gives a magnificent view of the landscape that surrounds the rock with the best views early in the morning. As the sun rises higher the distant hills and the rolling valleys below will clear up and be a beautiful sight to behold. On a clear day the landmarks that can be identified from the top include the Bandarawela range, Poonagala hills, Narangala, the Ella gap and the Badulla train tracks

📷 by Brian Wimalasinghe @backpacker_brian

Demodara Railway Station

One of the most unique Railway Stations in the main railway routes of the Sri Lanka is Demodara, which comes after the Ella railway station and the even better known Nine arch bridge on the main line from Colombo to Badulla.

Known best for its spiral line which has given it the name the ‘Demodara loop’, this is a unique railway station where the rail line passes directly under it. This phenomenon takes place when the train leaves the station and proceeds around a loop which emerges from a tunnel that runs directly under the same railway station. This rail loop is approximately 900 meters long and the tunnel it goes through is 320 meters in length.

📷 by Brian Wimalasinghe @backpacker_brian

Ravana Falls

Located in the misty mountains of Ella, the Ravana falls is located by the side of the road so is very easily accessible. With water gushing down 25 meters (82 ft) from an oval concave rock this beautiful 3-tier cascading waterfall forms rock pools along the way down. The waterfall takes an oval shape (of drooping areca flower with withering petals) during the wet season making it one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. But its wide nature reduces dramatically during the dry season.

According to legend it is said that as Ravana kidnapped princess Sita and hid her in the caves behind this waterfall now known as the Ravana Ella Cave. At the time the cave had been surrounded by thick forests and was in the midst of wilderness. It is also believed that she bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from the waterfall.

📷 by Brian Wimalasinghe @backpacker_brian

Ravana Cave

The Ravana Cave and tunnel network is a creation by King Ravana proving his architectural brilliance. Located about 2km from Ella town the Ravana cave lies 1,370meters above sea level.

The club up to Ravana Cave is a steep path with about 650 uneven steps – some broken while some are just steep rocks – with the last bit being the most challenging as there is nothing to hold on to during the last few meters of the climb.

The cave itself if quite small and one is allowed to go only 200 meters inside. However, the view from the top is absolutely incredible and makes the challenging climb seem absolutely worth it.

The network of caverns and tunnels are entirely man-made and connects all major cities and served as hidden passageways through the mountains.

Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash

Hidden Buduruwa temple - Ella to Yala Route – Koslanda

The beautiful, 1000-year-old, rock-cut Buddha figures of Buduruwagala are among the region’s biggest attractions. The gigantic standing Buddha (at 15m, it is the tallest on the island)   still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe, and a long streak of orange suggests it was once brightly painted. It’s surrounded by smaller carved figures. The central of the three figures to the Buddha’s right is thought to be the Mahayana Buddhist figure Avalokiteśvara (the bodhisattva of compassion).

Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya

Thought to be done by King Walagamba in the first century BC, the Dowa Cape temple is one of the many built by the king while taking refuge in the Uva region after an Indian invasion.

Popular mainly due to its massive 38 feet Buddha statue carved in granite rock, hidden from the main road and has an incomplete image of Buddha. The only indicator that there is a temple there is the stupa which is at road level. Behind this stupa is a tunnel called the ‘Ravana Guhawa’ guarded by a figure of a Clay King Cobra. This tunnel is said to have connected the Ravana Maha Viharaya to the Bogoda Raja maha Viharaya but is now sealed due to vandalism acts by treasure hunters.

Bogoda Cave temple and Wooden Bridge

Believed to be have been built by King Walagmba during the 1st century BC, the Cave temple in Bogoda was renovated during the Kandyan era with paintings of folk art. According to the legends, it is believed that the steps that lead down to a platform on the right side of the temple leads to an old tunnel that was used by the King as an escape route from his enemies.

Built across the Gallanda oya in the 16th century, the Bogoda Wooden bridge is said to be the oldest surviving wooden bridge in Sri lanka. This bridge was constructed entirely from wooden planks without the use of a single nail. All wood used for the construction along with the deck of the wooden bridge of Bogoda is supposed to be from a single tree. All parts of the bridge were made of wood including the use of wooden nails and fixing material. Complete with a roof structure – which shows the influence of the Kingdom of Kandy – the bridge is 15 meters in length and about 1.5 meters breadth. The wooden fences of the bridge are decorated in various ancient designs and have been erected on either side.

Diyaluma Falls – Koslanda (nearby Ella – 3 Hours from Nuwara Eliya)

Set in the Badulla District and just a little way off Ella and Wellawaya, the Diyaluma Waterfall is a must-visit for avid hikers and fall hoppers. This 220-meter high waterfall is the 2nd highest waterfall of Sri Lanka which has different levels and natural pools on the top. Water coming down with great force on the rocks is amazing to experience on the foot but exploring the top is new and you need to be a fit to reach this. The waterfall can be visited in 3 hours but full day is needed if one wishes to visit the top of the waterfall.

Adventure Activities in Ella

Located amidst the green estates of Ella, the Flying Ravana adventure park offers Sri Lanka’s first ever Mega Zip line. This two-wire zip line stretches for more than half a kilometer and slides at 80kmph offering a bird’s eye view of the beautiful green hills of Sri Lanka.

The adventure activities at Flying Ravana are exclusively designed for adventure enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies who enjoy outdoor experiences that are out of the ordinary. The activities offered in Ella include ATV/quad bike rides, abseiling, archery, air rifling and the newly added swing.

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