Ella is highland Sri Lanka at its best. It has a pleasant temperate/monsoon climate and some of the finest highland views in Sri Lanka. Located at an elevation of metres, the mountain ranges of Ella form the Eastern ridge of the Welimada plateau. On clear days, many peaks at Ella offer distant views of the Eastern coastline.
Once a sleepy village in the middle of nowhere, Ella today is a booming tourist town with a wide range of budget to luxury accommodation, good food, trendy cafes and a developing trekking and hiking experiences. Ella town is also an important hill station in Sri Lanka, where the highland railway line stretches to one of its furthest points (Badulla railway station).
Steeped in “Ramayana” mythology, the mystic hills of Ella and its villagers hark back to the ancient legends of god kings and monkey gods. Legends aside, the quiet green hills, gushing waterfalls, imposing rock peaks, sweeping tea plantations, and pleasant walks surrounding Ella tourist town are enough for a thrilling tropical highland escapade. Recent additions such as the Ella aerial runway add an optional dose of adrenaline to an already cherished Ella hiking and trekking experience. If you want to chill in the hills, Ella in Sri Lanka is your destination.
Hiking and Trekking at Ella
Ella Rock Hike – Ella rock is a huge rocky peak that looms over Ella town. It is a moderate level tropical hike. The views from the top of Ella rock on a clear day are nothing less than rewarding. The rock cliff has no safety railings and has become a favourite spot for daredevil photography. The hike itself is an interesting mix of railway tracks, tea plantations, steep climbs and shady walks. An Ella rock hike can take up 4 to 5 hours. Along the way to Ella rock peak, you can hike to other viewpoints nearby such as Rawana rock and Little Rawana waterfall.
Little Adam’s peak – Little Adam’s peak is a pyramid shaped rock located opposite the relatively huge Ella rock. Nonetheless, it offers amazing views of the Ella rock, Rawana falls and surrounding valleys. Best reached in the early mornings, the little Adam’s peak is often covered in mist. It is an easy hike with the path zig zagging around the back of little Adam’s peak hill and only a bit steep near the top.
Rawana falls and Rawana Cave
About 6 km from Ella town is the magnificent Rawana falls. It is a beautiful waterfall, which plunges 90 metres over a few rock faces and the main road passes right over it via a small bridge. You can walk up the falls to a natural pool where both locals and foreigners bath and tan on the rock face. Also known as Bambaragala falls, Rawana falls is named after the mythical king Rawana who allegedly held captive a princess named Sita from a nearby kingdom. Later on, Prince Rama who waged a war with the help of monkey king Hanuman to rescue the Princess defeated Rawana. The Rawana cave located nearby the Rawana falls is believed to be the place where Princess Sita was held as a captive of Rawana. The trek to the Rawana cave can be dangerous.
Set at an altitude of , Ella is well set in the tea production zone in Sri Lanka. All of the different stages of black tea processing, from planting to a well brewed cuppa, can easily be observed at Ella. As a brand, Ceylon tea has long been the leading tea product in the world for almost a century now. This is mostly because of the delicate taste burned into the leaves by the so called “old way”. Sri Lankan tea cultivators still maintain the orthodox method of black tea production. Despite the orthodox tea processing being slow and labour intensive, it paves way to a set of brews that can not be reached otherwise. Sri Lankan tea planters are known to famously say that “Good tea can not be hurried!”. The main stages of black tea processing that can be seen at Ella are Plucking, Weighing, Withering, Rolling, Oxidation, Drying, Grading, and Packing. Ella tea will leave your taste buds refreshed. The main tea factories at Ella are Newburgh tea factory and Uva Haputale tea factory. The Newburgh tea factory specialises in green tea production, which is fairly new to Sri Lanka.
Demodara Nine Arch Bridge
Walking down to the Demodara nine arch railway bridge is the easiest hike at Ella. Nevertheless, this hike leads to the foot of a beautiful colonial railway bridge made of brick, which is a really nice place for photo lovers. The whole experience takes less than 2 hours and is easily accessible even without an overnight stay at Ella.
Flying Rawana Zip Line
The Flying Rawana zip line is the newest addition to Ella town’s fabulous list of attractions. It is Sri Lanka’s first ever mega dual zip line and stretches for more than 500 metres. Maximum speed is 80 kmph and is located near little Adam’s peak.
Ella tourist town and Sri Lankan cuisine
Because of its popularity as a tourist destination, Ella town is rapidly developing. Many accommodation options, great food, and trendy cafes are adding flavour to the Ella town’s experience. Ella railway station is also a popular spot along the Sri Lankan highland railway ride, which is known as the world’s most beautiful train ride. Many tourists prefer to board a train from Kandy to get to Ella because of the amazing views. One of the favourite past times of Ella locals are holding cooking lessons for foreigners. It is becoming increasingly popular to take cooking lessons at Ella and the locals offer their best services available to make a wonderful Sri Lankan cuisine experience.
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