Breathtaking Views Captured at Kaloogala
Into the heart of the island, the road climbs higher and higher and the mountainous vistas turn into picture postcard perfect. The long and winding roads continue through lush tea fields and bustling villages. At times, the precipitous mountain sides can be daunting and we keep our eyes firmly on the road ahead. Many a time, we stop by the side of the road to gaze at the surrounding sights that take our breath away. This time, we are on our way to Kaloogala, located off Hindagala Estate in the Uva Province. We are almost 234 kms from Colombo.
The Kaloogala Bungalow is a charming abode with one of the most amazing views. Built in 1934 by an English planter, Mr. William, this bungalow is a beautiful testament to the days of the British Plantation Raj. Built from black stone which is probably how the bungalow got its name, the quaint fireplace, large windows and cozy bedrooms, this bungalow has been preserved, maintaining much of its old facade. However, the most outstanding feature of the Kaloogala bungalow is its amazing view, which to me, is one of the most incredible sights to be found anywhere in this country. Standing at the edge of the perfectly manicured lawn, one can get a 230 degree view of the land fanning far across from Amparai, Monaragala, Buttala, Pelawatta, Wellawaya to Hambantota, the farthest corner of the southern province. Across the vast plains far below, we see the Pelawatta Sugar Plantations in the far distance, the Ravana Ella and the long and winding Ella Wellawaya road. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the Indian Ocean off the Southern Coast. According to our GPS, it is almost 80 kms away, as the crow flies.
We take a walk along a nature track. Although the terrain is steep and at times craggy, the air is crisp and fresh. We soon come across an old leaf chute that has seen better days. This disused chute was once used to dispatch tea leaf down the steep mountainside to the now out-of-use tea factory which is in shambles. Life on these steep mountainsides would have been arduous, we imagine.
Located 1188 meters above sea level, the daytime temperature is at a cool 20C degrees and the night time temperature falls to a low of 15C degrees. A stiff wind blows through the bungalow and we dread to think how chilly it could be during the cold December nights.
Traveling further along is the famous Namunukula Mountain which borders Badulla and the Monaragala districts. Named because of its nine peaks which are clearly visible, this is the highest mountain in the Uva Province at 6617 ft . Needless to say, another breathtaking view of a beautiful landscape.
One morning, we decide to visit the Ravana Falls located along the Ella Wellawaya Road. En route, we pass Ella and are amazed at how this sleepy town is turning into quite a ‘touristy’ place. Like its southern counterpart Hikkaduwa, tiny wayside shops are turning into ‘happening’ hangouts that fill with tourists who use Ella as their base for inland trekking etc.
Considered to be one of Sri Lanka’s widest, this waterfall measures approximately 82 feet (25m) in height and falls from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop. Steeped in folklore, these falls have been named after the legendary character from the Ramayana, Ravana, the demon King of Lanka, who imprisoned Rama’s wife Sita in the rock cave behind the waterfall. The Falls is a part of the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary. Later excavations have revealed human skeletons belonging to the Balangoda man (Homo Sapiens Balangodensis) and tools dating from 8000 – 2500 B.C.
We motor down until we reach to the bottom and gaze up in wonder at this natural wonder. Being a popular sight, we are not alone, as every vehicle that passes by, stops and passengers take photographs of this majestic sight. For us, this is probably the umpteenth time that we pass this way, but it still takes our breath away.
The famous Ella Gap overlooks the southern mountain range offering a spectacular view of the land far away with a dizzying drop of 3000 ft giving you the feeling of standing at the edge of the world. On a clear day, it is even possible to the Great Basses Lighthouse off the Southern Coast. The road leading down through the gap-the Ella Wellawaya stretch, offers some amazing scenery including a series of sharp drops. Other places of interest are the Little Adam’s Peak, a 1141 mt high rock named after the famous mountain, the Adam’s Peak and the Bambaragala Peak.
We are now on our way through Wellawaya to Koslanda. But that is another story altogether….
Note: For a travel hungry Sri Lankan or tourist, there will never be a shortage of places to visit. As Marco Polo once commented, this has to be one of the finest islands of its size on Earth. Rich in tradition, steeped in history and bountiful of natural treasures, there is something to see and do in every corner of the country. With many of the roads in good stead and lots of places to stay in, take the time to pack a bag and traverse the country.