Welcome to the Mountains of Sri Lanka..
When anyone says Sri Lanka, your mind will automatically run to perfect blue water, extensive beaches and coconut trees. But guess what? Sri Lanka also has a flip side to it! The hills of Sri Lanka are an unexplored world altogether. I spent my last summer digging up the nooks and crannies of the Sri Lankan up country, and I would call it a shame if you visit the country and leave out the hills! My little exploration was to the new tourist hotspot “Ella”. It is about a six hour drive from Colombo, the capital but I took the train which takes around eight to nine hours in total. Ella is a truly wonderful little town that has now been restored and become very tourist friendly. Here are my top 5 things to do in “Ella”, the most lustrous part of Sri Lanka.
1.Take a Ride on the World’s most scenic Train Ride:
Often called the world’s most scenic trip, the train ride from Kandy to Ella does not fail to deliver. It is simply astonishing. Thankfully, the train service in Sri Lanka provides passengers a safe, comfortable and scenic mode of transportation within the country. Unlike other train rides, this one is sure to keep you awake from start to finish. The entire journey is uphill and is beautifully, naturally decorated with lustrous tea plantations assisted by a swift layer of smog that gently touches these perfect green patches. The morning train will also help you catch a glimpse of the tea plucker’s, who come out at day in their perfectly woven sarees to pick the finest leaves. The view is almost like that which we see on postcards.
My friends and I were lucky to get good seats on the train. The train was full of people like us, all aboard to catch the scenery. It was simply breathtaking, I had my eyes glued out of the window till we stopped at Ella and then I was ready to explore! It was my first time on a Sri Lankan train and I was pleasantly surprised by the different varieties of food that were served on the train. There was hot hot gram being sold along with freshly baked fish rolls and ‘Isso wade’ (a prawn dish which is a local favourite!). The scrumptious food and amazing view did really make it an amazing journey.
2. Visit the nine arches bridge, Demodara.
The next train stop from Ella is Demodara, where you can view the ‘Nine Arches Bridge’, one of the most iconic bridges in Sri Lanka and an engineering miracle! I had seen pictures of it online, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. The bridge is spectacular and perfect place to supply you with a truly aesthetic Instagram.
It is a solid structure built with the top tip I would give you for this place is that here you have a great opportunity to actually see the train going on the bridge. If you make it there before 09:00 am you will be able to catch the 09:10am train. Even otherwise, you can walk on the bridge and take photographs and see the “Bridge in the Sky”.
3. Hike up ‘Little Adams Peak’:
The real ‘Adams Peak’ is situated in Nuwara Eliya and is a feat. It involves an entire day (and night) hike and is mainly for experienced hikers. However, little Adams Peak provides a great alternative for beginner hikers to be able to get a glimpse of the great scenery the hill country has to offer. The hike was much easier than expected. It lasted around 2hours and there was a footpath and many signs leading us to the top. We were also joined by many other tourists who were all taking the same path up to little Adams Peak.
Although we set out at peak afternoon (around 12:15pm), it was sunny but Ella provides you with cool climate which makes the hike pleasant and not too sweaty. The cool breeze assists you all the way up and may even blow you off at the top! Once we got to the top, we really didn’t want to leave. We just wanted to sit there all day. The view is like a never ending sea of green, the kind that encapsulate you. The cool breeze only makes it all better. We were there for around two hours as we met an interesting couple who were on their honey moon and we got caught in conversation.
4. Yoga at 98 Acres Resort & Spa:
With this kind of scenery, meditation cannot be left out. It provides good stimulation for the whole body. 98 Acres Resort and Spa has one of the best viewing spots in Ella. Straight from the Little Adams peak footpath, there is a detour option to the resort. The hotel itself is very expensive and if you are a budget traveler, this really isn’t the place for you. But I can assure you, their restaurant isn’t priced over the top. It is priced reasonably, but serves you with one of the greatest viewing spots in Ella. They also have a yoga room which you can pay per session and enjoy a good relaxing stretch after the hike. Even if you don’t want to have a yoga session or a meal, still worth a visit to the hotel.
5. Visit Ravana Falls:
It is one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and is just off the edge of Ella town. Not just the waterfall, but it has a mysterious story behind it where they believe that King Ravana kidnapped Princess Sita and kept her hidden in a cave behind the waterfall (Ravana Caves). When we got to the waterfall, it was crowded with eager tourists, sight-seeing, bathing and simply gazing. We then decided to go back and come another time. The second time round (Monday morning) was a little less hectic and we were able to have a peaceful and cool bath in the designated bathing spots. It was a magical experience and fun too!
Warning: you have to be careful if you wade out of the designated bathing area as the others are very slippery and dangerous.
All in all, Ella was a great experience and a place I would recommend to anyone looking for an escape in the hills. Ella didn’t fail to impress: Green, Gorgeous and Glorious!