The little tropical island is blessed with a great variety of beautiful
landscapes. Ella, (meaning water fall in Sinhalese) aptly named in the
backdrop of numerous waterfalls, small & large, which crash, gush or
trickle down the mountainous terrain, is a beguiling village sitting
tight & pretty at the southern ridge of the
climate. Such is the natural beauty of the village, Ambiente Guest House
therein carries a piece of graffiti saying that the village is a
possible experiment by the God prior to his creation. Shot! The sole
tourist attraction of the village is its natural beauty. The small,
sedate & pretty cool (with apologies to my nieces, I try to pick up
their vocabulary) village is nestled in a magnificent valley peering
straight through the opening amongst an idyllic green mountain ranges,
right down to the coastal plain nearly 1000m below, & over to the coast.
On a clear night, you can view the Kirinda
That is, as the crow flies (the direct distance) that is 77 km far. The
Ella Gap. An attractive scatter of pretty little cottages & bungalows
with their flower filled gardens in this vantage point of Ella with
perfect climate soothes your mind & rest your day to day anxieties.
We take the one & only street of the village and stroll meanderingly
along the gentle downhill, while passing hotels, guest houses, cafes,
and restaurants. We finally reach the escarpment. The Ella Gap Right
down is treacherous sheer sided downhill highway of Wallawaya, all the
way down to Hambantota (274 km) of the southern coast.
British Colonial Secretary of Ceylon (1845-1850), Sir James Emerson Tennent narrates of Elle:
Perhaps there is not a scene in the world which combines sublimity and beauty in a more extraordinary degree than that which is presented at the Pass of Ella, where, through an opening in the chain of mountains, the road from Badulla descends rapidly to the lowlands, over which it is carried for upwards of seventy miles, to Hambantota, on the south coast of the island. The ride to Ella passes for ten or twelve miles along the base of the hills thickly wooded, except in those where the forest has been cleared for planting coffee. The view therefore obstructed, and at one point appears to terminate in an impassable glen; but on reaching this the traveler is startled on discovering a ravine through which a torrent has forced its way, disclosing a passage to the plains below, over which, for than sixty miles, the prospect extends, unbroken by a single eminence, till, far in the distance, the eye discerns a line of light, which marks where the sunbeams are flashing on the waters of the Indian Ocean
Trekking at Ella
if the magnificent view through Ella Gap wouldn't do, Ella provides
enchanting trekking opportunities with spectacular sceneries among the
tea plantations, temples, pine forests and waterfalls. Ella is an
excellent base for keen trekkers to explore & discover the surrounding
countryside. The largest mountain of the mountain range, Little Adam's
Peak can be reached through a tea estate. We can also visit Uva
Halpewaththa Tea Factory. We will stroll down the Ella Gap along the
railway track & close to an iron bridge is Rawana Ella Falls
plunge magnificently down a series of rock faces. We can even climb over
the rocks up the falls escorted by monkeys scampering up & down the
rocks. A path close to the safe bathing area tempts you to trekking in
that direction too. Still more, we will organize paragliding, canoeing,
camping & rock climbing.
The legendary trailblazing rocker: Lord Hanuman with his tail on fire
The most famous Cliff hanger ever in Ella was Lord Hanuman. In search of
Sita, consort of Lord Rama, the general of the non-human Vanara tribe
combed the Central highlands of Lanka, dodging the showers of fire
arrows by courtesy of King Rawana's sentry posts. His tail was set on
fire. But no fire would set him back: he found Sita, carried the message
to Lord Rama; built a floating bridge over the seas from Rameswaram to
Dhanushkody; brought a whole mountainside from Himalayas to Lanka in his
search for a herb that would heal Lord Laksmana mortally wounded in the
battle; bore the brunt of the enemy attack; spearheaded the front lines
by the side of Lord Rama & Lakshman & won. That's what you call a
friend. And, by god, he was a lord too to the boot. But then Rama was an
incarnation of God Vishnu; an epitome of virtue. Superior characters
will have superior friends.
For your eyes only, darling!
Off the road & on a steep & slippery track is a small temple & at the
end in a cleft in the mountain that rises to Ella Rock is the cave where
King Rawana held Lord Rama's consort, Sita, hidden from all prying eyes
& only for the eyes of King Rawana. The Indian epic Ramayana is now
memorialized in the names of various guest houses as well as in the
Rawana Ella Falls. The guest houses Rawana Holiday Resort & Rawana
Heights are perched on hill above the village.
Homo sapiens Balangodensis
For your long trekking, at the top of the rock, you'll be rewarded with
a stunning view. Excavations at caves unearthed prehistoric remains of
human skeletons & tools dating from 8000 to 2500 BC. The skeletons
belong to Homo sapiens Balangodensis.
Kissing in the dark
We can get onto a train at Ella railway station & enjoy the ride to
Demodara where the railway track performs a complete loop right around
hillside & tunnels under itself at a level 30m lower. Our numerous (you
lose count) tunnels are not lit & you will be in dark for half a minute.
This is part of the 200km Colombo (sea level) - Badulla
(680m - in Central highlands
) winding twisting, & ever ascending railway track that runs
along spectacular sceneries. Diesel trains, not electric trains, ours is
a poor country, remember...?
The finest dessert of the world
Most of the hotels & guesthouses in Ella provide excellent views & some
are located where we could enjoy the magnificent view of "The Ella Gap".
Ambiente, Hill top Guest House, Grand Ella Motel, Rock view Guest House,
Tea garden Hotel Inn are among those. Not the least of Ella's
attractions are guest houses & hotels. Front lawns, grass mattings,
leafy gardens, leafy verandas & leafy balconies with superb views. All
the guest houses serve authentic Sri Lankan home cooking. Traditional
Rice & curry as well as Malay-Dutch Lampreis, rice & curry wrapped &
cooked in a banana leaf. The finest home cooked Sri Lanka dishes in the
island is served in these small guesthouses. Home grown coffee is served
in all guesthouses some of which has its own spice gardens & vegetable
patches. Once again the finest dessert of the world: Curd, a kind of
yogurt made of coagulated Buffalo milk served with generous lashings of
Kitul Palm honey. Aha! Can I have some more please?
Belihul Oya River
River nearby too offers camping sites run by tour operators. Right by
the river the camping site is tastefully set among the trees with the
gushing rock strewn river running below.
A walk through paddy fields along a small path leads us to a man-made
rainwater reservoir called Samanalaweva (meaning Butterflies tank)
rainwater reservoir. Still further is the famous
(263 m), the island's tallest waterfall.