High in the central plains of Sri Lanka, surrounded by mist-covered hills and mountains, is the location of one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka, Ella.
The hills that surround it are sources of many streams and rivers that gracefully flow over the many waterfalls that are located near Ella, and these have lent the name to town as “ella” in Sinhala means “waterfall”.
Once just a sleepy little hamlet, today is a very popular tourist destination due to the wealth of natural beauty that surrounds it.
From the colonial-era heritage to enchanting natural sights, for every visitor, there is something to see or do in this enchanting town or its surroundings.
The railway connecting Kandy and Ella is famous around the globe as one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Especially the part from the town of Nanu Oya to Ella, which slowly snakes around the forests and hills of the Horton Plains National Park.
If you are visiting Ella, you must make certain to either arrive or leave from it by train.
One of the most popular sights near Ella is the Nine Arches Bridge located around 15 minutes drive away. This viaduct bridge slowly arches across a ravine surrounded by lush green hills and tea plantations.
The valley bellow it is very often covered by clouds and mist, which give it a charming, mystical atmosphere.
Sri Lanka’s history is enshrined in many ancient stories and legends. One of these is the Indian epic Ramayana, which describes the adventures of Lord Rama.
One of those was the rescuing of his wife Princess Sita, which was imprisoned by King Ravana on the island.
One of the places where she was held in captivity is a cave near Ella, known as the Ravana’s Cave. This cave is also a very important archeological site because in it was found evidence of the earliest human inhabitants on the island dated to almost 25,000 years ago.
Near the cave is the Ravana Ella waterfall, under which according to legend Princess Sita bathed during her captivity. Located near the road leading to Ella, it is a very popular sight and one of the widest waterfalls on the island.
High in the hills is located one of the most enchanting observation points in Sri Lanka, the Lipton’s Seat.
Named after the famed Scottish entrepreneur Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of the famous tea brand Lipton’s. If you are looking for the stunning views that encompass the vast areas of the Hill Country, or to snap some of the most beautiful pictures of Sri Lanka’s nature, this is a place you must visit.
Near the small village of Dhowa is the location of one of the ancient Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. This temple originates from more than 2,000 years ago and was known as Kumbaltissa Ariyagala Vehera. The most popular sight of this temple is the unfinished statue of Buddha carved in the rockface.
According to a legend, it was carved by a king who was in the hiding from foreign invaders, but because his hiding was relatively short he left his work unfinished.
The area surrounding Ella is a very popular hiking spot. Among the most popular hiking spots is the Little Adam’s Peak, named so due to the resemblance to a very popular pilgrimage place located 130 kilometers west.
Because it falls among the easier hiking trail in Sri Lanka, it is a very popular trip that will take you some 2-3 hours to complete in both directions. Once you climb it, you will be presented by an astonishingly beautiful view of the Ella Gap and the surrounding tea plantations.
Another popular hiking spot is Ella Rock. A trek that you will need around 4 hours to complete, and which is a bit harder than the Little Adam’s Peak. But the extra effort is well worth it.
The trail will take you through a diversity of environments, from the railway track, through tea and rubber tree plantations, passing by waterfalls, and ending on a spot from which you can enjoy one of the most bewitching panoramas of the surrounding hills and Ella Gap, especially in the early morning or the late evening.
Visiting the tea country is not complete unless you also visit a tea factory. One of the most popular factories is Dambatenne Factory, built by the man with the most recognizable name in connection with tea, Sir Thomas Lipton.
Here you will be able to learn about the history and process of producing some of the best tea in the world. From growing, picking, and fermentation, to drying, cutting, and grading of the tea. And also at the end of the tour, you will be able to enjoy a cup of tea.
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