I love train journeys. I think its because it reminds me of family holidays to Goa- we always went by train and it was always a great adventure that involved food, great scenery and bonding with fellow passengers. So when, while planning our Sri Lankan holiday, I noticed a lot of people recommending taking a train ride to Ella, I didn't need much convincing.
We took the train from Kandy to Ella. It's quite convenient since it departs Kandy at 8.45 and we are in Kandy by around 2.30 pm. We went 2nd class reserved (there is also an unreserved 2nd class which makes things a little confusing). Along the way we enjoyed some spectacular scenery, bonded with our fellow passengers & were entertained by a group of young Sri Lankan girls who were enjoying a game of antakshari. I also noticed that, like in India, it is customary to scream/howl out of the window as the train passes through a tunnel. It was also incredibly amusing to see a few German tourists, who had befriended these girls, try their hand at it as well. These are the things I enjoy about train journeys... people bond, they talk to one another, share food and for some reason are just a lot more open and friendly. There is a certain romance, an atmosphere, to train journeys that you just can compare to speeding from one place to another in an air-conditioned car :)
A lot of people take the train from Kandy to Ella, some take a car from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and then hop on the train to Ella from Nuwara Eliya, while others deboard at Nuwara Eliya, explore this town and then go on to Ella by car. The scenery throughout is pretty awesome, although it gets a little cloudy and rainy after you cross Nuwara Eliya, and the landscape becomes a little more wild and rugged.
I couldn't stopping taking pictures the entire journey! The train winds its way through and around the hills, by numerous tea plantations, so close you can wave out the the women who are picking the leaves, and offers beautiful views of valleys and waterfalls. In my opinion this train ride is a must do, so if make a trip to Sri Lanka, and plan to visit Ella, take the train!
Here a a few of the many, many images I captured.
[All images- Shalin Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]