Srí Lanka III.: Kandy – In Train Through Mountains to Badully - VIDEO
We see rice fields, banana fields, and one village after another for the first thirty minutes. People wave at us and we wave back. Until Nawalapitiliya station, the train is full so I am glad that I have paid (although it was a rip off) for “tourist” reservation. It is nice to sit during such a long journey. Otherwise I usually travel in overcrowded third class on this island..
Here we go. Train ascends steeply. The railroad twists on the hill side, and engines on both sides are going at full thrust. We see first tea plants, villages are scarce, and there is more of fog and rain. We ride across countless bridges, couple of tunnels, and stop at a small station where some locals get in
At the Hatton station, half of the tourists leave the carriage. From there, they will go to see the famous mountain of Adam`s Peak. Then they will probably move to former English town of Niwara Eliya. Yet I continue on and the train still goes up. It is getting colder. Unlike in Kandy where it was 30 degrees Celsius, here its about 15, and 100% humidity. I unpack my sweatshirt and long trousers because the train has doors open as well as many windows.
We get on Horton`s Plain, a plateau where it looks like in Scotland. There are moorlands, mountain hazy primaveal forest, and there are almost no villages. At the plateau’s end, the train descends slowly. Roughly an hour later when it dark, we arrive to Ella. There is warm temperature it is not raining.
From my headquarters in Ella two days later, I ride to see the terminus of Badulla about hour and half away. this time I ride in classic red train pulled by 50 years old German diesel engine. Near Ella, we ride across beautiful stone viaduct, some waterfalls, and famous loop at Demodara station. About 10 meters lower below the train station there is a tunnel. The land changes from high mountain terrain to practically a lowland where the terminus is.
I return to Elly in the night by a night train. It reached the capital in about 12 hours. Surprisingly, it has only one sleeping carriage but two dining carriages. Prior to departure, engine drivers signal each other with a long hoot that spreads really far and its echo returns back. Both engines worked at full thrust and let out huge clouds of smoke. I think steam engines were much more ecological…
The ride on mountain railroad is something that is hard to forget. It will get you to one of Sri Lanka’s most fabulous places. Don’t forget to reserve a place. Sometimes train that stop there are truly full. Don’t stress out if a train is many minutes late, it is normal here.
Text/photo/video: Matouš Vinš
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