• Ankitha Prakash

Exploring Ella on Tuk Tuk: Ella, Sri Lanka, 2016

This small town boasts to be the most popular hill station in Sri Lanka. As it was quite late after attending the wedding at Matara, I decided on choosing a taxi to go to Ella (around 3h and $60). But you can either take a combination of bus until Kandy plus a taxi; or a bus until Kandy plus a train from Kandy to Ella. The train journey from Kandy to Ella is rated as the world’s most scenic train ride and that’s what I have initially planned, but due to some time constraints, I had to shift to the taxi. I will try on doing that someday!

Stay: It was around 11PM when we reached Ella’s town center. It was lined up with many restaurants and hotels/guesthouses. The taxi driver suggested to stay a bit away from the town center to enjoy home stays with some breathtaking views. I have decided to follow that suggestion as I would love to wake up to such a view! He also suggested me to a Tuk Tuk driver, and he said he would take about 10 minutes to reach. I blindly trusted both the taxi and the Tuk Tuk drivers but the journey until we reached the home stay, scared the shit out of us (yes, thankfully I am not alone). It was pitch dark and I could not see anything clear (the Tuk Tuk headlights just showed the road, and driver was driving reasonably fast!). Finally, ended up seeing a house in a blurred view. There was no light outside the house, a lady comes with a candle telling there was a power cut and takes us in to serve dinner. That was amazing food though! Then she showed us the way to the room with the same candle method and vanishes from behind. My sister decided on locking the door form inside and not opening it until the sunrise. Before sleeping we did thank the taxi driver to drop us safe and, we booked him for the whole sightseeing of the town, Ella! He was a kind man.

Homestay with a breathtaking view: The main shock was what we woke up to! After sunrise (at around 7AM) I opened the door, very excited to see what the view talk is all about. AND OMG, we were staying on the edge of the hilltop and I directly see the hill ending up to a valley of thick jungle.

The View!

Before soaking up in the view, the first thought was what if I slipped in the night, the candle did not show anything of this?! Anyway, after a split sec I just thanked god and kept on staring at the jungle for hours together thinking “Yes, this is a breathtaking view”! The nine arches bridge which is famous for the train ride from Kandy to Ella was also seen in a miniature mode. WAS JUST AMAZING!

Sightseeing: The Tuk Tuk driver reached at about 10AM and planned an itinerary in the limited time I had!

The Tuk Tuk has arrived!

📍 Dhowa Rock Temple: (15 minutes from the town centre)

Dhowa, a small village was situated on the Badulla-Bandarawela main road. The temple was named after the village and is a protected heritage sight. The temple was famous for its 38 feet Mahayana sculpture of Buddha carved in a granite boulder.

📍 Nine Arches Bridge: (17 mins from Dhowa Temple)

This stone train bridge, also called The Bridge in the Sky, built by the British is the best examples of colonial-era railway construction. The name comes from the nine beautiful arches it had on it. Though, I could not get hold of the famous train (that comes from Kandy to Ella) on this bridge, I did make sure to capture a beautiful picture!

📍 Ravana’s Cave: (15-20 minutes from the Nine Arches Bridge)

Located about 2km from the Ella town, the cave lies on the foundation of a cliff, and is one of the popular tourist attractions. There was a small temple called Ravana Ella from which a hike up about 700 steps would let us reach the cave (to know more read my blog under the hiking section). All the hype about the cave is its historical connection to the Ramayana Epic. It is said that the cave is used by King Ravana to hide Princess Sita (Ramayana). Though there was no proof of this significance, the part of highlight to the hike was its beautiful mountainous views (You can read more about the hike in the ‘Hiking’ section of the blogs).

📍 Ravana Falls: (12 minutes from Ravana’s cave by Tuk Tuk)

Finally, we head to this beautiful big rock and the water flowing down until our feet. The waterfall is connected to Ramayana epic as well and named after King Ravana. It is said that the water from the falls created a pool in which Sita bathed.

We headed to Colombo from here (to take the flight back) but made a halt in the city ‘Ratnapura”, as it was famous for its mining and the gemstones. The craziness my sister had for jewels made this a mandatory stop! But we did manage to keep them as Souvenirs.