Rail Tours in Sri Lanka



Through Paradise By Train (1 N 2 D tour in the hill country)
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Through Paradise by Train.........
The Enchanting Rail Ride across the Hill Country Sri Lanka

Day 01
  • Meet and greet your Tour Leader at the Fort Railway station at 5.00am (transport could be provided to pick you from the hotel)
  • Board the train and get yourself comfortable till the time for departure.
  • Leave station at 5.55am

Riding across the hill country by train is truly a delightful, fascinating and sometimes awesome experience. This ride will take you, by the famous Muthurajawela marshland, through villages and vast paddy fields, through lush green carpets of tea as far as the eye can see, by tea factories scattered on this carpet, by the numerous beautiful waterfalls, through long dark tunnels, over the wonderful arch bridges built using blocks of stone and cement alone, along narrow ledges of steep escarpments and above all will offer the bewitching view of the bottom of Sri Lanka from top of the country.

This enchanting Rail Ride now a great tourist attraction was initially built by the British based on the coffee cultivation. The initial section from Colombo to Ambepussa was started in 1864 and later extended in sections to Kandy, Nawalapitiya, Hatton, Nanu Oya, Bandarawela and finally finished in 1924 at Badulla. The Coffee cultivation however, was devastated and was replaced by Tea, which became very successful. With the success of Tea the Railway line not only became more and more popular and profitable but also more and more beautiful. But now, with the main road taking over the bulk of the transport business, this railway line is becoming more of a tourist attraction.

reach Baudulla station around 4.30pm.

  • Pickup and transfer to the Hotel.
  • Evening optional visit to the “Muthiyangana Ancient Temple” believed to visited by the Lord Buddha or at leisure. 
  • Dinner & over night at your hotel on Half Board basis.

Day 02

  • Transfer to the Badulla railway station after an early breakfast.
  • Leaving Badulla at 8.50am.

Important Landmarks

Detailed description of the journey……

The Colombo - Badulla railway tracks runs for 290 kilometers with 81 stops at railway stations. Forty-four tunnels rise up from the path, paddy fields to tea plantations, fascinating bridges with architectural values, around 10 main waterfalls in the island, including Devon waterfalls and St. Clair waterfall, breathtaking views of the central hill lands etc… are visible to passengers who feast their eyes on the passing beauty.

4No sooner you start the journey from Colombo Fort, there is something interesting to note. Just one km away, on the left side of the line is a small dilapidated building over a hundred and forty years old, which is the original Colombo Fort station, obviously the first railway station of the country.

Muthurajawela a large inland marsh of 1000hctrs, a famous sanctuary for birds is bordered by the rail line for considerable distance.

Around 50km from Colombo the change of environment becomes evident and suddenly you enter a tunnel lies between Wilwatta & Botale railway stations; a tunnel 125m long and first of 44 you would go through. Do not fail to notice the original station building at Ambepussa.

4The train makes its 1st uphill, Rambukkana – Kadugannawa out of three uphills on its way. Others are Nawalapitiya – Hatton and Thalawakele – Pattipola

Start the climb towards Paradise from Rambukkana, go through two tunnels situated close together and stare at a large rock capped mountain called Alagalla through, which you will go in the second longest tunnel of the journey. But before that, don’t fail to note Uthuwamkanda, the hideout of ‘Saradiel’, a famous character dubbed as the Robin Hood of Sri Lanka.

From Colombo to Rambukkana the colour light system is used for the trains to take off. From Rambukkana to Badulla, the train track becomes a single line and there is a system called Tablet System introduced by the British which is still in use instead of Colour light system.

This particular system prevents two trains running from opposite directions, which in turn helps to avert collisions.  The engine driver has a Tablet to hand over to the station master and in turn collects one from him. The tablet gives the authority for the engine driver to proceed to the next section (station). He hands over the tablet at the next station to indicate that he had the authority to pass the previous section. The station master gives the tablet only after ensuring by telephoning the next station master that the line is clear for the train to proceed.
A brief but breathtaking view of the low country is now open for you, followed by another landmark; the Bible Rock, a large rock in the shape of a bible - hence the name, with a 10 acre summit.

Sit tight! You are now traversing the most perilous section of the line cut around a rock with steep slope. Several workers have died and many more were injured during the construction of this section. Going through history you will be, at ‘Balana’. This was supposed to be the only entry point to the Kandyan Kingdom in the olden days. The entry point is so narrow that, the station is situated below the line. Few kilometers ahead, you will get the second longest tunnel “Balana – Kadugannawa Tunnel” out of 44 tunnels in the journey.

At KADUGANNAWA you can relax as the track eases out. But before that, note the Tower built in memory of Capt. Dawson who constructed this treacherous section in the main road 30 years before the railroad. From Rambukkana you have now climbed 1500ft in less than 13 miles.

Since the whole journey from Colombo to Badulla is tiring, so the engine driver changes at Nawalapitiya. The new engine driver then takes Udarata Menike till its final destination in Badulla. 

For the next several hours you will be going through this paradise enjoying all the endless beauty a country can offer. During this time you will, pass the point – Watawala - that gets highest rainfall in the island, pass through several points from where you will get a view of the majestic Sri Padha (Adam’s Peak) and after Hatton go through the longest tunnel in the train line “Poolbank Tunnel” having a length of 562m with a curvature in the middle, so that one end of the tunnel cannot be seen from the other end. 
As you emerge out of this tunnel you will notice the sudden change of the environment. Large mountains are replaced by small hillocks all covered with tea. You have now entered area of the best tea in the country: perhaps in the world.

After sometime you will arrive at Nanuoya, the closest point to Nuwara Eliya (called ‘Little England’ by the British).

Located 1625 meters above sea level the Nanuoya railway station is one of the bigger railway stations which falls across the Colombo - Badulla railway tracks.

It is said that “There used to be a small train which made its way from Nanuoya to Nuwara Eliya to transport goods but it was stopped in 1941when the authorities decided to shift the goods in Lorries.

Sometimes the trains are delayed in this area due to thick mist. Two employees patrol along the tracks daily making sure that everything is in order.

4The patrollers inspect each of the tracks to make sure that no danger will befall the train. The trains are given the signal to pass through only once they have reported that the track is clear. If any form of danger is at hand the patrollers will light a form of firecracker during the daytime or a sparkler after dark as a warning sign to the engine driver.

It is said that there was an incident some time back, only one person was sent for this task but he vanished without a trace. Many believed that he was snatched away by a leopard.

A little later lookout for the final but astounding view of Sri Padha before you reach Ambewela.

Pay heed to the environment there is dramatic change now. Tea gives way to vegetable plots and then comes the dense forest of the Strict Natural Reserve.

At the end of the forest at PATTIPOLA is the signboard indicating the summit – 6125ft - of the railway line.

4The Pattipola railway station is situated 1891 m (6204 feet) above sea level. It is a small station the crew still use some of the old equipment which had been placed at the station when it was built. These date back to around 150 years. A painting which portrays the site in 1940 still hangs on the wall of the station master’s office.

The railway station is just a stone’s throw away from the Horton Plains. Many tourists get off at the station and proceed along a six kilometer trail in a vehicle and another six kilometers on foot to make it to World’s End. Proceeding up the railway tracks on the way to Ohiya, you come across the summit level of the railway road.

Another interesting landmark is the tunnel between Pattipola & Ohiya which is the third longest tunnel in the track. Interestingly at one point the train enters the tunnel from the Nuwara Eliya district and emerges from the Uva province!

From Ohiya, which is the closest station to the world famous Maha Eliya (Horton Plains) to the next station Idalgashinna is an interesting stretch having an amazing number of thirteen tunnels in a matter of about five kilometers. Idalgashinna is on a fascinating section of the line. This section, called the “Lizard’s Spine” by the people, offers you unbelievably breathtaking panoramic view. On one side, you will see a section of the ‘Top’ of the country beyond the vast Welimada Valley and on the other side more fascinating view of a vast area of the ‘Bottom’ of the country down to coast. 

Now, you are coming to the end of your ‘journey through paradise’ but, not before a few more surprises.

Ella will offer you another surprisingly beautiful view of the southern Sri Lanka before coming to Demodara, where you will be given the opportunity to observe couple more interesting things. You will be going over an arch bridge several hundred feet long, built not to cross a river but to connect two mountains. This 85 year old bridge built with blocks of stone and cement without any concrete or reinforcing iron has nine arches,  some as high as 90ft and was dubbed by the British as the ‘Bridge of Nine Skies’.

You will then be ridden through a very interesting and a rare phenomenon immediately after the Demodara station – a loop in the rail track. The track leaves the station, goes around a hill behind it and comes and goes past the station under it.

At Demodara the surveyors discovered that the elevation of the hills was too great for the track to negotiate. With the maximum inclination allowed in railways at that time being one foot per 44 feet, an innovative track design had to be devised. Situated 172 miles from Colombo, Demodara has joined railway legend for its fascinating loop. It is said when surveyors were in a conundrum to proceed beyond Demodara, a local farmer suggested to the experts to build the track similar to the way his turban was tied. Thus the idea to build a looping track was suggested as a solution to the problem. After several years of construction, the track was finally commissioned in 1921 when the first train arrived at Demodara.

Well! All good things must come to an end. It’s now twilight and time for you to disembark at Badulla.


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