Top 5 things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

You’ve no doubt heard so many things about Ella from many travellers as a go-to place in Sri Lanka and wandering about the web to find out about it. Well, you’ve heard right and you’re in the right place. It is the most happening destination of the hill country. Let us guide you to this lovely place.

Climbing up Little Adams peak

Video Courtesy: Poorna Yapa via Chasing the Bliss

Also called “Punchi Sri Padaya” by locals is named after the sacred mountain “Adams Peak” ( Sri Padaya ) for having a similar shape.

But not to worry, climbing Little Adams peak is fairly easy compared to its big brother. The path lies through tea plantations and signs are available throughout the road.

How to get there?

  • The road to the hill starts off Ella – Passara road at 3rd mile post and continues through a tea estate. The turning point is right next to Ella Flower Garden resort. (Directions).
  • Continue through the winding road. About after 10 minutes, you’ll reach a gated road which lies through a tea estate.
  • Go past this without turning until you reach another gated road to your right immediately. Turn right off here to the peak, going straight will get you to 98 Acres Resort.
  • The trek leads you to some concrete steps and eventually a footpath to the summit.
  • The first peak is the one with little Buddha statues. The path to the left leads to many other viewpoints and eventually another peak to the extreme left.
  • Climbing the to the last peak would be tougher but totally worth it.
  • Make sure to bring enough water, sunscreen, a hat.

There are many viewpoints and summits and take your time exploring. There is a box-shaped protruding rock that affords a sweeping view over the Ella gap.

Little adam's peak ella
Mist covered little Adam’s peak has many viewpoints

The climb may take 1-2 hours and make sure to start early to admire the glorious sunrise. The mountain rises 1,141 m above sea level but the elevation gain for the hike cannot be more than 200m.

There is no entrance fee to climb the mountain and no guides are needed, just follow the signs.

Walk along the rails on the Nine Arch Bridge

ella demodara nine arch bridge
A Badulla bound express train over the bridge

This insta-famous colonial via-duct is located just walking distance from the Ella-Passara road. Due to the unavailability of steel at the age of WWI, it had been built entirely using solid rocks, bricks and cement. Commissioned in 1921, the bridge is 97 feet tall and each arch is 24.5 feet wide.

Interestingly, construction of this wonder had been supervised by a local man named Mr P.K. Appuhami. He was generously rewarded by the English government for this endeavour. ( source )

The bridge is located between Ella and Demodara railway stations at tunnel No. 40, closer to the Ella station. There are several ways to get to it from Ella. You can either

  • Walk along the railway tracks from the Ella station towards Demodara. You’ll have to go through the tunnel. Keep vigilant for oncoming trains. (3 km) (1/2 hour walk)
  • Hire a tuk-tuk from Ella town. Make sure to negotiate the price first. (2-3 km)
  • Using the foot pathway from Ella-Passara road. If you’re climbing down from little Adams peak, this way is closer. ( ~300m from the road)

Trainspotting

To capture the perfect insta-moment on the bridge, a train must be in the scene. So try to get there on time to catch one. Refer to the following timetable to get a rough idea of train arrival times to the bridge.

Please note these are not exact times since train delays can’t be predicted. You can also climb to a higher ground opposite the tunnel side to get a better snap.

Train arrival times to the bridge

  • Towards Demodara: 6.10 am, 1.35 am, 3.20 pm, 5.35pm, and 6.35 pm
  • Towards Ella: 6.30 am, 9.15 am, and 11.55 am

Hike up to the top of Ella Rock (Ellagala)

ella rock climbing sri lanka
Ella Rock as seen from Little Adams Peak

Up for a tougher hike than Little Adams peak? Conquer Ella rock (height – 1,340m) for a dose of panoramic views and a sense of profound adventure.

There are many trails leading to the peak and one could get easily lost their way among many branching trails. Stick to the below-mentioned trail to Ella Rock and you’ll reach the summit without hassle.

Ella Rock Trail Guide

  • The journey starts at Ella railway station. Enter the station and walk towards left on the platform and get down on the tracks.
  • Walk along the tracks for about 03 km past a bridge to reach Kithalaella station.
  • Please note that eager locals may try to deviate you from the trek but hear none of this. They are trying to get you lost and then demand money to show the correct one. There may also be fake signboards.
  • Walk past Kithalaella station further about 300m you’ll find a rock and a footpath to your left immediately after that (GPS 6°51’28.3″N 81°02’39.0″).
  • This path lies over the stream that feeds Kithala Ella Falls. You’ll find a junction after the footbridge over the stream, turn left and continue along this path which runs through a tea plantation and mana grass patch.
  • You’ll find a summer hut and an interim viewpoint hereafter. The trek gets steeper after and continues towards the summit through a turpentine forest. If you’re hiking in the rainy season be prepared for leeches.

Tips for the Hike

  • The trail distance is about 05 km from the Ella station and takes about 2-3 hours to get to the top.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Carry enough water (1L). There is a water source available at the trailhead but thereafter.
  • Start early to avoid the heat. It is best if you can climb very early in the morning to view the sunrise.
  • Be vigilant of oncoming trains when walking on the rail tracks.
  • Please leave only footprints and be responsible enough to bring back any polythene you take.

At the top you’ll observe Little Adams Peak, Namunukula range, Ella gap, Ravana falls. There is a camping site available but camping is not allowed at the summit.

trail map for the ella rock hike
Ella Rock trail map via Google Earth | Click on the image to enlarge.

Ravana Ella falls (Bambaragama Falls)

ravana ella fall is one of the popular natural attraction in ella
Ravana Ella, seen from Ella – Wellawaya road
  • Height: 25m (82ft)
  • Water Source: A tributary of Kirinidi Oya

Located 4.7 km from Ella by the side of Ella – Wellawaya road Ravana Ella is truly a magnificent cascade and the most prominent waterfall in Ella area.

You can visit this falls on your way to down south or hire a tuk-tuk from Ella town.

The site tends to get crowded with locals on holidays and weekends so better if you can visit the falls on a weekday to enjoy tranquillity.

Better to visit in the rainy season to behold her full force but bathing will be impossible at those times. It is quite dangerous to climb up the rocks and not recommended as there have been several deaths recorded onsite.

As the legend has it that in ancient times King Ravana kidnapped Princess Sita and kept her hidden in a cave.

This cave is located about 02 km from Ella town and can easily be reached via Ravana Ella temple off Ella – Wellawaya road.

The rumour also has it that the actual Ravana falls is the one called Kithal Ella falls due to the close proximity to the cave.

To complicate things more, Ravana cave surface itself bears signs of a waterfall that existed a long time ago and this could’ve been the actual Ravana falls.  No written history exists about the famous Ravana falls.

Demodara railway loop

demodara loop seen from above
Demodara railway loop seen from above | Photo Credit Charitha Rajapaksha

Here is another engineering marvel you can visit. At the time that the Demodara railway track was being built (1920), the railway engineers faced a steep inclination in the terrain.

The max inclination allowed by the Ceylon Government Railways at that time was 1:44 and a pioneering idea was in need to construct the trek under those constraints.

The solution, however, had been suggested by a layman who showed the lead engineer Mr D.J. Wimalasurendra that the trek could be constructed as a loop that goes around the hill and under a tunnel as the way his turban was tied.

Did you know? : Demodara loop is considered the only loop in the world with a railway station situated exactly over a tunnel at the spiral loop.

You need to get to Demodara railway station to witness this marvel. It is located 8.3 km from Ella town and is the next station after Ella towards Badulla. The easiest method is to hop in a train travelling towards Badulla.

Get off at Demodara station, go right outside to the car park to catch the train while it traverses the loop and goes right under the station through tunnel number 42.

There is a model of the loop on display at the station and the station master is all eager to explain it to you in detail. The loop and the tunnel are 900m and 300m long respectively.

Train arrival times to Demodara station

Towards Badulla ➡ : 06:21, 13:07, 15:28, 17:36
Towards Ella : 06:23, 09:08, 11:40, 14:18

Conclusion

We hope you’ve got the information you were looking for and enjoyed the article. If it didn’t meet your need or you want to share your experiences in Ella (good or bad), do leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you.

Don’t forget to check our travel guide to Ella for essential information you’d need when traveling.

Hope you’ll have a pleasant time in Sri Lanka.

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