Nuwara Eliya conjures up images of lush green vegetation, waterfalls, and mountains and of course the refreshingly cold weather. One of the best ways to enjoy the breath-taking scenery unfolding along the way is to board a train in Colombo to the hill capital and beyond.
In this fast and furious age of high-speed trains whisking along electric rails, rambling along in an old train, on rail tracks originally laid out by the British in the mid nineteenth Century, enjoying the abundance of what mother nature has on offer, is indeed an unforgettable experience for any visitor to the country.
The rapid change of scenery and the weather from Colombo to Kandy and then further onwards to Nuwara Eliya and beyond is truly amazing.
Up until Kandy, the line runs through rice fields, flat jungle and small towns dotted along the way. With Kandy’s elevation at 1,600 ft. above sea level, the atmosphere becomes cooler, while the train screeches through numerous rock tunnels, passing rivers, stone cliffs, unusual rock formations and rich vegetation.
Closing in on Nuwara Eliya you could witness nature at its purest, with misty hills, forests, tall pine trees and the tea estates looking like a never ending green carpet on either site. You could see women plucking tea leaves, with cascading waterfalls in the background – very much like a picture postcard.
Slowly, the train winds its way forward, climbing steadily to Hatton, then Nanu Oya and reaches Nuwara Eliya. Commonly called “Little England”, Nuwara Eliya was the playground of the British, who ruled Sri Lanka for nearly 150 years, and even today most buildings retain an images of old-world Colonial inheritance. Situated at an altitude of 6,128 feet, the town overlooks Pidurutalagala – the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka – and close by is Adam’s Peak, a historic Buddhist pilgrim site and one of the most famous mountains to climb in the country.
Passing Nuwara Eliya, the line winds steadily upwards to Horton’s Plains, reaching the highest point of the journey at 7,500 ft above sea level. From then onwards, the train starts to descend slowly, unfolding a magical landscape of lush greenery, passing Haputale, then Ella and finally Badulla, where the track ends.
The entire journey from Colombo to Badulla takes around 11 hours – certainly well worth every minute of it.
There are daily trains leaving to Badulla from the Fort Railway Station. It is recommended that your book your tickets a few days before the journey. Only 1st and 2nd class carriages are open for bookings.
Visit the Sri Lanka Railways website at http://www.railway.gov.lk/ for details.
Tips For Train Travelers
1. Keep the exact amount due on your ticket to be handed over at the booking office counter at the Fort Railway Station.
2. Be at the station at least 15 minutes before the arrival of your train.
3. Do not enter a railway carriage or platform without a ticket and always examine the tickets handed over to you and check if the balance is correct before leaving the ticket counter.
4. Do not attempt to board a train when it is in motion. Wait till it stops completely.
5. Be vigilant about your valuables and luggage and do not accept parcels given by strangers for safe-keeping.
ps, passing rivers, stone cliffs, unusual rock formations and rich vegetation.