Ella: Chasing waterfalls and seeking adventure

Sep 09 2019. view 189


Ella is a hiking hotspot in our country and offers phenomenal views and unforgettable adventures. The travel to Ella might be a tiring 6-hour drive, but the abundance of activities and the plethora of captivating sights this little mountain town has to offer is well worth the visit. 
 
 
Here is our list of must-see sights in and around Ella for your next visit to one of the  most thrilling destination in Sri Lanka; 
 
On route to Ella
 
An hour before reaching Ella, if you take a small detour towards Wellawaya you will find some great must – see locations around the area well worth your detour. 
 
Buduruwagala
 
The Buduruwagala temple is one spot that has yet to be popularized by the masses but a sight that is well worth the travel to see. The Buduruwagala temple holds what is known as the most suggestive influence of ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism in Sri Lanka with seven statues sculptured in a single rock face and is acknowledged to be one of the finest Mahayana sculptures found in our country.  Buduruwagala doesn’t have many historical records (and the site doesn’t offer any either) but it is generally believed to date back to the 9th -10th century.
 
 
The centrally sculptured main Buddha image is 51 feet in height and is the largest standing Buddha statue of Sri Lanka.  On his right side is the sculpture of Bodhisatva Avalokiteshvara and on his left the Goddess Tara. 
 
 
How to get there
 
Locals are allowed free entrance (tourists are charged a small fee) at the main entrance and then you can either travel 2km by vehicle or by foot to the reach the statues.  Make sure you are wearing appropriate attire to visit a place of worship (no shorts or skinny’s) but in any case, the authorities at the entrance are equipped with a few shawls and sarongs that you can borrow for your visit. On your way back – make sure to stop at the serene lake on route and take in the stunning landscape it offers! 
 
 
Ella Wala
 
A place that is slowly becoming more and more popular, the Ella Wala has to be one of our favourite waterfalls. It’s a small but stunning waterfall that lies within the confines of a jungle a mere 5km from the Wellawaya town.
 
 
This waterfall doesn’t have much of a back story to it and very little is known about its finer details like its height and its origins but the Ella Wala has become popular for its teal blue waters and the natural pool it provides. This location is the ideal place for a chilly swim as the water is clean and not too deep and it has a natural sand bank that allows you to relax and enjoy a quiet couple of hours. 
 
How to get there 
 
There is a small road that allows you to travel into the jungle but closer to the waterfall the road gets narrower and steeper so unless you are travelling in a vehicle that can handle the climb it is advised that you either walk or take a tuk – tuk. Once you reach the designated parking spot – you will have to trek into the jungle for a few hundred meters to reach the waterfall.  Please enjoy the waterfall responsibly and take back anything you brought along with you! 
 
 
Diyaluma Falls
 
If you’ve planned to spend a day in the Wellawaya area, then the Diyaluma Falls is the only waterfall you should be chasing! A mere half hour drive from the Wellawaya town the Diyaluma falls is everything you are looking for – an adventurous hike, a bathing nook and a view that takes your breath away. Diyaluma falls is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka with its water cascading down a height of 220 meters and is an absolute vision to witness up close.
 
How to get there 
 
You start your trek at the bottom of a hill where there is a tricky trek off the beaten path where you have to tackle loose rocks and bushy trees and even leeches if the ground is wet! You’ll end up trekking for a good hour or so till you hear the sound of rushing waters. The water gathers in small bathing nooks before gushing down and is crystal clear and freezing.Seated on the ledge of the rocks near the waterfall, you will be treated to magnificent visions of mountains and plush greens surrounding the area. Always keep a sharp eye on your surroundings – the trek to the falls may include various reptiles and animals. 
 
In and around Ella 
 
Ella is made for the thrill seekers and those who can appreciate a stunning view. It’s a place that embodies history and culture and boasts magnificent architecture and landscapes. 
 
 
Little Adam’s Peak 
 
Little Adam’s Peak is the perfect trek as it offers spectacular views without much effort on your part. The Little Adam’s Peak gets its name after the sacred Adams Peak due to the similarity between the two mountains and stands tall at 1141m in height.
 
 
The climb to Little Adam’s Peak is rewarding and the view is unimaginable. It gets a little hot in the afternoon so trekking might be a bit difficult but the best times to get the best views is to climb the peak in time for the sunrise or sunset.  
 
 
How to get there 
 
From the Ella town it’s about 1.5km to the start of the trail. The trail starts off on the main road itself (right next to the Ella Flower Garden) and is now marked by a large board that reads ‘Flying Ravana Zipline’. At the entrance there are a fleet of tuk-tuks for those who want the view but not the hike. If you are trekking your way to the top it will take you around 30 – 40 minutes but it will allow you to really take in the views. There are plenty of signs pointing you towards the peak so you won’t get lost. 
 
Ella Rock
 
If you are seeking  adventure and a worthy hike the Ella Rock certainly fulfils that criteria. It’s definitely one of the most tiring sights to see in Ella but it’s also worth the effort. The trek in itself takes 4-5 hours in total and its advised that you start the trek at sunrise as the afternoon sun is too hot and to avoid trekking in the evening to as it’s easy to get lost along the way. 
 
How to get there 
 
You start your journey at the Ella railway station and keep walking till you reach the Kithaella railway station and walk till you see a rock with a blue arrow marking and from there follow the rocks with markings that will lead you to the view point. There is no such need for a guide to make your way through Ella Rock (there are plenty of accurate and reliable guides to reach the view point online) so be aware of touts who will convince you that you are going the wrong way. Of course if you feel more comfortable with an experienced guide there are plenty at the location to offer their help. 
 
Nine Arch Bridge 
 
The Nine Arch Bridge was built during the British colonial period and is situated  between the Ella and Demodara stations and is named after the visual experience it offers.  When you stand below the bridge looking up you see the sky through the nine arches.  The Nine Arch Bridge is on the Demodara loop itself and spans 91 meters and stands at a height of 24 meters. 
 
 
How to get there 
 
There are various ways to get to the Nine Arch Bridge – you can either take a small 30-minute walk through the jungle or walk along the track from Ella town till you reach the tunnel. Be mindful of train times. 
 
 
Ravana Falls/Cave 
 
The Ravana Falls is one of the widest falls in the country and falls from a height of 82 ft. The waterfall is best seen in all its glory during the wet season as the water flow is dramatically lower during the dry season. It is also believed that Rama’s queen bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from this waterfall.
 
The Ravana Cave is a small cave that is popular due to the Ramayana mythology that surrounds it. History states that the cave was used by King Ravana to hide Princess Sita. The cave lies 4490 ft above sea level and is set on the foundation of a cliff. 
 
How to get there
 
The Ravana Falls is 10 minutes from the Ella town and you can trek your way up to the popular swimming hole.
 
The Ravana cave is accessed through the Maha Ravana Viharaya and there is a steep path of 1km that will lead you towards the cave.  
 

Pictures by: Theja Senanayake and Dasun Muthugala


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..


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