Trip plan to Ella was made weeks back, with different people who later on backed off due to many reasons. I had done so well a research, that finally, I decided to go by myself and asked Lahiru with whom I always go everywhere with to join me. Within a day’s time he confirmed. We were travelling from Colombo, and the easiest way to get there was the train.
Ella, was not so popular as a tourist attraction 6 years or so ago. I assume it is because of the lack of facilities of transport, internet and decent accommodation/food in the area. But the past few years, with the trend of budget hard-core travellers, it has evolved as a must visit in a trip to Sri Lanka.
Journey to Ella
I had known that the train journey is of 8 hours from Colombo, and is quite a beautiful one. So I chose the day train and tickets over the counter which was about Rs. 150 (LKR). It was a weekend, and we did not get seats for about 3 hours. At Kandy, (a famous stop where most people get off at) that half of the train got emptied and we managed to grab nice window seats. I was quite excited as I had never travelled past Kandy, at least in the day time.
Lahiru had booked a small boutique lodge for us to crash in, which was not more than Rs. 2000 (LKR) for a night with breakfast. I think it was really fine and decent, as we only needed a place to rest our heads. We would be out all the two days. It had hot water facility and was within walking distance from the Ella railway station. In the same distance, there were some hippie style restaurants that catered to the foreign tourists as well.
The Ella hike, as I had found out, should be started very early morning, so that you will reach the top by dawn, not missing the sunrise. It was around 2.30 pm when we reached Ella, so we threw our stuff at the lodge and roamed about in the village, and visited few places like Ravana waterfalls and cave, and the Ravana temple and had an early dinner .We had an early day planned for the next, so fell asleep as we were a bit exhausted from the train ride and were cold.
Like most other stories, you might read, we did not wake up early. It was because we were told by the lodge owner that the hike starts with a trek through the railway and at 4AM you need a good torch to save yourself from insects and other animals. Which, we did not have. There was no other flat road to the hike entry point and everyone had to walk through the railway. We could not remind him to pack breakfast early the day before, so everyone was fast asleep and we decided to stay back for a while till the light outside was fair enough to make the road.
Around 5.30 am, we stepped outside, and walked towards the station. The trek was about 40 minutes. The station too was deserted and empty, as Ella is not a connecting station, and only two trains stopped there every day. There was a black dog sleeping on the platform, and with our arrival he got excited. Probably thinking we had some food for him. I normally keep away from dogs and tried my best to drop it off but it kept walking with us! Lahiru liked him, and he tagged along the railway trek. A jobless dog, I’d say! We named him Tommy.
We kept on walking, it was not very tiring as it was early morning and the weather was refreshing. Our walk slowed down, as we couldn’t help clicking photographs or the unmissable beautiful backdrops and distant waterfalls that appeared as white strings flowing down the hills. And of course pictures of each other, like the one above! We came across a bridge that connected two steep hills on which the railway continued to flow. We witnessed a Ceylon Jungle Fowl, (an endemic bird and also the national bird of Sri Lanka) that hurried its way across the railway and disappeared into the jungle.
I wondered how long we had to go, or whether we missed the turn to the entrance of the hike. Few children were walking towards us to the station, probably dressed in school uniforms. We asked them for help to find the exact left turn to the hike and they told us that we have to walk a little more to find a Bodhi tree, and to turn from there. We came across people going for work, farmers carrying their goods and they all offered a warm smile as if they knew us from many years. I have never seen this practice in people from Colombo, who are always busy and lost in their schedules, to be noticing anyone around them.
Finally we reached the Bodhi tree, ending the railway trek, with a small tea shop next to it. We continued our journey and it didn’t take long for us to get to a river, where it broke off into a waterfall. I had only seen a very few starting points of waterfalls, and I assumed it as one of the falls of which we clicked pictures of when we were on the railway.
We kept walking as we realized the path is no longer flat, but a slight climb. I had to put in more effort to keep track. The walk was getting tougher, and we slowed down in pace. We stopped by, to click some pictures, and finally we came to a small sandy path that leads through the forest, shaded by trees on either side. The sun was shining brightly upon us and suddenly, it was not so cold anymore. The mountain range was clearly visible on the left side of the track. The cooling breeze mixed up with the slight sunshine set the perfect weather. The trees had branches starting so low, and I decided to try my tree climbing skills here!
A young village lad walked towards us from a distance. He introduced himself to us as Nalaka, walked far ahead of us, and sat and waited for us to arrive. We would arrive, panting grasping for breath. Nalaka had climbed this hill since he was a kid and is quite aware of where each small path led to. He was a drop out from school and worked in some small boutique hotels and then quit those too. He was a cheerful chap.
After about a 30 minute more climbing we reached the top. And the view was breath taking! I was super glad I made it to Ella.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in