Ella, up above the clouds where Ravana kept Sita hidden

- A Monitor Report 01 Sep, 2018
A partial view of Ravana waterfall near Ella
Colombo : From Passikudah beach resort city, the road led to reservoir constructed in 1960s to provide irrigation water to the farmers. As we continued to travel rain greeted us. We then passed through the clouds. This brought back the memories of Meghalaya to this travel writer.

In Meghalaya's Cherapunji, the rain did not bring down the temperature that much. Here we started to feel the chill of Bangladeshi winter.

We then stopped at Ravana Ella. Ella means waterfall. The Ravana Falls, locally known as Rawana Falls, is one of the widest falls in Sri Lanka. This waterfall is approximately 82 feet in height and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop.

During the rainy season, the waterfall turns into what is said to resemble an areca flower with withering petals, the guide informed.

The falls have been named after the legendary king Ravana. He features in the famous Indian epic, the Ramayana. According to legend, Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka at the time, kidnapped princess Sita, and had hidden her in the caves behind this waterfall, now known as the Ravana Ella Cave.

The reason for the kidnapping is said to be a revenge for slicing off the nose of his sister by Rama, husband of Sita, and his brother Laxmana. It is also believed that Rama's queen bathed in a pool at the base of the waterfall.

Historians believe that Ravana has played the Ravanahatha, an early form of violin, over here.

The famous Ravana Ella Cave lies 4,490 feet above sea level. The cave is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Excavations undertaken in the cave uncovered evidence of human habitation dating back to 25,000 years. We found people taking holy bath and tourists taking photographs with the waterfall as backdrop.

We travelled onwards to Ella. Once a sleepy town, it was shining bright in the evening with high-end clothing brand outlets and restaurants displaying their fares in German and other languages. One would not be mistaken if one says it looks as if it is a town set in the hills of Bavaria in Germany. We found the outlets, restaurants and the roads full of young European tourists.

Ella town is surrounded by hills covered with cloud forests and tea plantations. Ella provides a base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across tea estates and up mountains.

Beside travelling by road, one can journey by train. Ella railway station is the 75th station on the Main Line and is located 271.03 km from Colombo. The station has one platform and all trains running on the Main Line stop at the station.

The station opened in July 1918. The track was originally designed for carrying loads of tea from Ella's tea gardens. Now it offers two passenger trains each morning - at 06.20 hours and 09.20 hours.

Other activities the tourists can engage here is to climb up Little Adam's peak and walk along the railway tracks on the Nine Arches Bridge.

We stopped for the night at Haputale. From outside, the hotels at Haputale look as if they are about to fall off the mountainside. Once inside it is another story.

Rocks jut into every guestroom, adding to their beauty. Honeymoon suite of a hotel we were shown even has an ensuite swimming pool.

The surge in number of tourists in Ella and Haputale has sent the hotel rates soaring, said the guide.

One word of caution to conclude - be sure to carry a set of warm clothes. Otherwise you would catch cold. Canvas shoes would be useful while trekking or climbing mountains.