Are you game to explore the rocks and waters of Ella? Then come along, read on, know more, grab a map, pack up the gears, and hike till the dawn and dusk dance to the tune of your indelible episodes of adventure. Ella is your next should-visit destination, say YES!
Ella is a green mountainous hangout in the central hilly regions of Sri Lanka, 202km away from Colombo. This growing hinterland rests on the mid part of the island with everything awe-inspiring. You’ll keep ogling at the landscapes it offers. Many mountains — large and small, waterfalls, tea plantations, tea factories, rocky terrains, ancient temples, tunnels and mossy forests are some of the highlights of this base. If you aren’t for mountaineering, you could go on a long walk across the pine forest to enjoy the aroma of musty windy leafy air.
This serene attraction can’t be a bricky eyesore to the eyes that come from big cities. You’ll fall head over heels with the picture-perfect surroundings. Ella boasts of its natural water falls that cascade from mighty heights. Standing under the pure drops of water would bring you back to life even after a long day of nestling for hours against the drop-dead gorgeous backdrop of Ella.
Not necessary that you spend wads of cash on sightseeing this time. Pay nothing for anything other than on not-luxurious nightstays, food and transportation in Ella. Cosy hotels that serve tantalising cuisines from the eateries should carry you back and forth throughout Ella until you devour the hamlet whole before you depart fully satisfied.
The mode of transportation depends on your choice — bus or train or cab or anything you feel comfortable travelling by. Train ride is the most enjoyable one to extract the most out of every opportunity to blend in with the nature on your way. Chilly nights and sunny days make the perfect weather for walking around Ella. Don’t be haste to land on this place during the rainy season, which might ruin your plans.
We here give you just the nitty-gritty glimpse of the amazing sites this place consists of simply to simplify the process of backbacking for a memorable journey to Ella at the earliest possible with the passion to chronicle your travel in words and pics.
LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK
You call the name Little Adam’s Peak because it takes after the biggie mount Adam’s Peak. This mount, which is 1141 metres in height, would consume 3 hours to carry you to the top where you can spend an hour or two admiring the surrounding landscapes. Tea plantations glow in the absolute lush greenery along the slopes as you begin walking the trails where men and women in broad welcoming smiles keep themselves busy with their daily work. Even the faintest of hearts can trek this mount because of its low altitude. The trails are socially friendly and so easy to trek. You won’t even need a guide for this sort of a climb.
Start your hike very early in the morning from the railway station to complete the cycle of your walk within 3-4 hours. Be wary of touts, slippery rocks and a cute little WARNING for the insectophobics! Leeches multiply in thousands during the rainy weather hopefully waiting for litres of blood out of you during the climb. This trek obviously is an arduous one, so be prepared rather than backoff halfway through. The stunning picture of sunrise and sunset behind the clouds, valleys, mountains, grasses, meadows, waterfalls, would keep urging you to bravely take up the challenge of hiking this rock. If you feel lost, don’t mull over blindly, seek the help of the locals who are happy to give directions of the trails that aren’t very much visible in certain areas. Some natives around these places who are backed by guides may also attempt to mislead to grab money out of you. So don’t panic at these tricks. You can do it. Just be on your own way, there is nothing to fear, you’ll quickly fall back on track. Once you have climbed closer to the top, you’ll find a level ground completed with eucalyptus trees, which under the sun look extremely gorgeous and there you are at the summit within earshot! Drink all the vibrant scenery from the top with your eyes and camera, of course, without one you won’t like doing the trekking. You can’t stay there forever, so heading back is the only option. Say one last sad tata to the broad panorama.
The dense cleft between two mountains is known as the Ella Gap. For a cheap fare, you can board the trains which goes to and fro all through the loops of the highland and even father like to Kandy, Colombo etc. Thousands of options for photography tags along with you until you reach the destination. You’ll get the best views of the Ella Gap from the train. Something like a misty island within island would grab all your attention. This spot is the favourite one of any tourist who visit Ella.
HALPEWATTE TEA FACTORY
Never exit this lush green highland without helping yourself with a Halpe cuppa. The British built this tea factory in 1940 that rests very high above the sea level in the Uva Province. With a distance of 3km away from the Ella town, not a single tourist traverse these regions without knocking at the doors of this tea factory that produces high quality brews. Decades have passed since its opening, but the quality of the tea it produces hasn’t diminished. Feel the warmth of the tender tea leaves at least once in a lifetime.
FALLS IN ELLA
These waterfalls in Ella lack nothing magnificent to ignore blowing your mind with its paradise touch. You’ll come across many falls in this beautiful village. A few to visit are Ravana Ella falls, Bambaragama waterfall, Dunhinda falls and Diyaluma falls etc. You can’t even imagine the beauty of these cascades unless you go see them for yourselves. Ravana falls is one of the widest among other waterfalls in Lanka and Bambaragama is believed to be the second tallest. ‘Ravana Falls’ is named after the famous Indian epic’s antagonist Ravana, for it is believe that he kidnapped a lady named Sita and hid her behind this waterfall where there is a cave. You can know the rest of the story by going through the ‘Ramayana’. Waters rushing from great altitudes is yet another experience you’ll find mesmerising about these falls. Traversing from one fall to another with the camera in your hand is a thing we know you’ll never ignore doing before moving back to your retreat.
NINE ARCHES BRIDGE – DEMODARA
This historical bridge was built in the year 1921 by the British authorities. It contains nice arches, hence called Nine Arches Bridge. It has another native name in Sinhalese ‘Ahas Nawaya Palama’ which means the bridge of nine skies. The trains from Colombo to Badulla go along this iconic rail that even today is in fine condition. It is this bridge that supports a curve in the rails that bent beautifully giving a welcoming piece of sight of the very train in which you travel. The stunning views during the journey is worth everything you tolerate in the overcrowded compartments for hours before you get a seat to settle yourself by the window. And to those with ardent passion for ancient architecture and spotting-trains-live, here you go!
DIFFERENT ROUTES TO VISIT ELLA
Take the A1 highway from Colombo to Gampola that heads to Nuwereliya to stop at Bandarawela first before reaching Ella. The second option is taking the A4 highway from Colombo through Ratnapura, Balangoda, Haputale, Bandarawela and there, you are in Ella.
WHEN TO VISIT ELLA
The best time is between December-March. It’s during these months the hill country becomes somewhat arid. Even rest of the months are fine except the monsoons that start from May to August. Rain is unpredictable whatsoever.
Don’t forget to swap smiles for a selfie with the locals for it’s them who, too, can’t be dismissed from the long list of attractions you can only witness as long as you are active and agile.