Sep 27 2016. view 1809
Ella: A Scenic Getaway
We gave you Negombo first and this time around it's Ella!
Sri Lanka has become a popular tourist destination in Asia due to its rich cultural heritage, biodiversity, cuisine and other unique features which it has to offer to its guests. When touring around this isle, there are must visit places with eye-catching sceneries and historic landmarks depicting early colonisation and our link to Buddhism during the early centuries. Ella, is one such destination which offers you a one-of-a-kind experience with unique cuisine, breath-taking sceneries, historic landmarks and many more adventures. This time, the Life Online team visited this trending tourist hotspot in Sri Lanka to try out the various cuisines at the popular eateries in town while also getting involved in a few adventurous hikes to explore what Ella has to offer for its visitors.
Accommodation for the Life Online team was sponsored by Mountain Heavens hotel.
Our first stop in Ella was at Dream Café and I can assure you that we weren’t disappointed. They were quite busy early on in the evening and only got busier as the night went on.
We first tried a few of their drinks. A Mango Lassie (Rs. 300), a Chocolate Milkshake (Rs. 325) and a Pineapple Smoothie (Rs. 300). All of them tasted really good but we preferred the smoothie. You can pick a fruit you prefer and the pineapple was delicious!
We then tried some of their main dishes. A Chicken Pizza (Rs. 890), A Pan Fried Seer Fish (Rs. 850) or popularly know as their Fish and Chips and Bolognaise Spaghetti (Rs. 600). We absolutely loved their pizza! Served warm, the thin crust pizza and the topping was absolutely delicious! And it is something I will go back for. The owner was right when he said that someone who ate once at Dream Café will return during their stay!
The Fish and Chips had very a crispy batter and it was quite tasty as well. The portion was quite large and big enough for two!
We really enjoyed the Italian Spaghetti with the Bolognaise sauce as well! The pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauce was delicious. The food is definitely worth for the money. The portions were huge and tasty at the same time.
We were stuffed by this time but we had to try their Chocolate Mousse (Rs. 400). It was a dark rum flavoured Swiss chocolate chip mousse served in a waffle tulip basket! It looked beautiful and tasted just as good. The mousse was rich and with the crispy basket it was to die for!
Dream Café with its friendly staff and cozy atmosphere is definitely a place you must visit if you are in Ella.
Down Town Rotti Hut
Rotti is a popular Sri Lankan delicacy with its association with lunumiris and a curry. But moving out of this traditional ‘Rotti style’, the Down Town Rotti Hut at Ella offers you a different variety of rotti ranging from rotti with chicken and other spicy toppings to fruits and even chocolate, vanilla and other flavours. This of course, is a unique selection offered to its guests.
While at Rotti Hut we tried their Chocolate and Banana Mixed Rotti (Rs. 325) which is one of their fast moving delicacies. We fell in love with it from the first bite itself; an association of rich chocolate topping, with more chocolate inside with banana.
Rotti Hut is a spacious eatery with its own coffee stop, tea centre and restaurant. The tea centre at Rotti Hut is another attraction with its wide range of branded tea where samples are displayed and offered to guests for tasting as well. Hence, Down Town Rotti Hut is a must visit eatery for visitors in Ella.
Element Hiking Bar
The Ella town has become quite popular for its various colourful and ‘hippie-type’ hangout spots. While some are enclosed spaces, others are set out in the open so that the visitors can experience the chills especially during the night. The Element Hiking Bar, which is situated as soon as you reach the Station Road, is known for its unique selection of cocktails. By the time we visited this place quite late in the evening, we barely found space inside the bar.
While at this place, we tasted their Slushi (Rs. 330), Thabili Colada (Rs. 450) and Rock Beauty (Rs. 450). The Thabili Colada was the best and the most attractive cocktail offered, where a king coconut itself is served with a blend of their own mixology.
The Slushie wasn’t chilled but it had a fruity note and if served chilled, it would be an absolute thirst quencher.
We then had a Devilled Chicken (Rs. 350) which was spicy enough and combined well with the beverages.
Element is a cool hangout spot and is recommended for those who would like to chill with friends.
During our stay at Ella we also went to Ice Cube. The ambience of this place is the best we saw at Ella. It had a beautiful interior with an attractive bar with lots of art pieces on display. They also have an outside dining area from which you can see and observe the road and passersby. It is the perfect place to wind down with its hip and relaxing music after a long day of roaming around Ella where everything is a climb.
The owner Vlad Novokhatchkii, originally from Russia visited Sri Lanka 3 years ago and fell in love with the place. After exploring the country for a while he found himself in Ella and opened up their other café Umbrella which is away from the town, 2 years ago. He then opened up Ice Cube together with his girlfriend 2 months ago.
While we were there we tried 3 of their cocktails. A Tiki (Rs. 900), Cuba Libre (Rs. 650) and a Mojito (Rs. 600).
We loved the Tiki which was a beautiful blend of Red and White Rum with Mango, Banana, and Pineapple juice and a Strawberry syrup. If you ever visit Ice Cube it is definitely something you must try.
The Cuba Libre was a blend of White Rum, Lime juice and Coke which was refreshing served chilled.
The Mojito was rum based with mint, lime and soda and it was quite strong.
We also tried a portion of their Sizzling Prawns (Rs. 890) which was absolutely delicious and accompanied all of our drinks very well.
Places Of Interest
Acknowledged as the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, the Bambarakanda Falls is situated in Kalupahana and can be visited on your way to Ella.
The trek to the falls amidst pine forests is quite adventurous and it was our first trek on the visit. Although the waterfall was not as eye-catching as it would have been during the rainy season, there were many foreigners and locals who were visiting the place to catch a glimpse of this majestic site.
Ravana, the mythical primary antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana, is the Raksha King of Lanka. In Ramayana, Ravana kidnaps Rama’s wife Sita in an act of vengeance. Ravana’s cave, located on a cliff close to Ella is part of a tunnel or network of caves said to be connected to the Ravana Ella Waterfall.
According to legend, it is said that Ravana hid Sita in this cave for many years before confining her to the garden of Ashoka Vatika which is also close to Ella. Several narrow stairs lead you up to this cave and at one point we were out of breath. Yet, longing to see this legendary cave, the Life Online team climbed higher and higher and finally saw the mouth of the cave. The stairs end at the mouth and the slope is muddy and slippery at the entrance. With water coming from cracks in the rock it is quite difficult to walk down until you go on all fours. The cave has no sign of Ravana’s presence at least with a painting of some sort except for inscriptions and scribbles of visitors. However, we felt proud that we reached the cave against all odds.
On our way to back we also didn’t forget to visit the Buduruwagala temple which is known for its massive rock carving. The path towards the temple is accompanied by paddy fields, glimpses of the Tissa Lake and dense thickets adorned by peacocks and peahens elegantly pacing up and down. While inside the premises, the Life Online team walked a bit further in to a forested area before witnessing the massive rock carvings which were standing out in the open.
The name Buduruwagala is derived from the words for Buddha (Budu), images (ruva) and stone (gala). The complex consists of seven statues and belongs to the Mahayana school of thought. The statues date back to the 10th century. The gigantic Buddha statue still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe and a long streak of orange suggests that it was once brightly painted. The central of the three figures to the Buddha's right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.
Dhowa Rock Temple is a protected heritage site in Sri Lanka, situated on the Badulla - Bandarawela main road. If you are driving up to Ella it is definitely a place you must visit. It’s famous for its large unfinished Buddha image, carved into the rock face, which is considered an example of Mahayana sculpture.
The temple dates back over 2000 years. The paintings of the shrine room had been decorated with the influence of the Kandyan era. These paintings depict various Jathaka stories and most of it has been preserved well and can be freely studied and enjoyed. The temple also has a small stream running behind it which is beautiful during the rainy season.
It is a popular sightseeing attraction in Sri Lanka and is one of the widest falls in the country. This waterfall measures approximately 25 m in height. During the dry season, the flow of water reduces dramatically. Thus we were able to climb up the rock and feel the water. The falls have been named after the legendary king Ravana. It is said that Ravanahad kidnapped princess Sita, and had hidden her in the caves behind this waterfall.
Little Adams Peak
Little Adams Peak is named after the sacred Adams Peak because of the similarity between the two mountains. “Punchi Sri Pada” is another name for this peak. It is 1141 m in height. Gradually with an easy hike up to the mountain of Little Adams Peak you can consummation a worth panoramic view. You have to walk through lush green tea plantations, waterfalls and paddy fields while enjoying the sceneries and it will take you roughly 30 to 45 minutes to reach the top.
It is an ideal place to watch the sun rise in the morning. With prodigious views of as far as Ella rock and down to the gap will be gorgeous. Although we must add that the final stretch of the climb can be quite tough for an amateur. But they have made it easier and accessible with steps. The view at the top is absolutely worth the climb and effort. You don’t need a guide for this hike and it is definitely something you must do during your stay in Ella.
Demodara Nine Arch Bridge
It is the most iconic bridge in Sri Lanka. It is located in Demodara, between the Ella and Demodara railway stations. It was built during the British Colonial period and is the largest in Sri Lanka. When one stands underneath it and looks up there is a beautiful sight of ‘nine skies’ through the nine arches, hence the Sinhala name “Ahasnamayepalama”. This bridge is also called ‘The Bridge in the sky’ due to the sheer height.
This massive bridge is built entirely of solid rocks, bricks and cement without using a single piece of steel. It is also the highlight of the train ride to Badulla and the only bridge in which one end of the train can be seen from the other. Even if you don’t travel to Ella by train it is located only a few kilometers away from the town, so when you are in Ella don’t forget to check out this beautiful structure.
By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe and Jithendri Gomes
Video and photographs by Zeeshan Akram Jabeer