Friday, May 9, 2014

82. On Rails To Badulla...The Final Part.


This is the final part of an unforgettable train tour, on probably the most scenic rail route in Sri Lanka.

If you missed the first 4 parts, here they are.

 On Rails To Badulla...Part Four - Up to Great Western

Great Western at 1455meters above the mean sea level is the 9th highest train station in the country.

The train finally pulled out of Great Western and rolled on...

Somewhere between Great Western and Radalla...

These are the stations you pass when you travel 
from Great Western to Badulla.
Great Western, Radalla, Nanu Oya, Parakumpura, Ambewela, Pattipola, Ohiya, Idalgashinna, Haputale, Diyatalawa, Bandarawela. Kinigama, Heel Oya, Alle, Demodara, Uduwara, Hali-Alle and Badulla.

Radalla Estate indicates we are arriving at Radella.

The force behind. The rail road crew.

Radalla, a rural station is the
8th highest station at 1575.31m above the MSL. 

Have to pass over 202km from Colombo to get there.
And I've heard about Radalla because of the radio relay station.

Arriving in Nanu Oya, an important station on this line.

Nanu Oya Rail yard. Nostalgia flooding in. 
We used to transport our family possessions in goods carriages like this when my father was transferred to various parts of the country. 

The conventional rail car that has stood the test of time...

The turntable. Probably a museum piece now.

Nanu Oya. Well there is this dual signal again... 
Then what's special about Great Western as that guy said?

Rolling past Nanu Oya. 
Situated at an altitude of 1613.10m, and at a distance of 207.05km from Colombo, Nanu Oya secures the 6th place in the train station altitude list.

Maybe I shouldn't say this because of this political correctness. Nevertheless, it's a storybook scene, isn't it?

Bridged!!! There's a large number of steel bridges like this along the way to cross the ravines just like the tunnels that penetrate the mountains.

Edinburgh Estate.
Arriving at Ambewela. Nicknamed little New Zealand for the cool climate and the the dairy farming. Actually there is a farm called New Zealand farm in Ambewela. And the other is Ambewela farm. And also the island's only Spray Dried Milk Powder factory.
Cutting through the cold white mist at Ambewela.
Ambewela Station. The second highest train station in Sri Lanka, at an altitude of  1827.77m above MSL and 221.48km from Colombo.

Pattipola on the border of Nuwara Eliya district, is a very important landmark station in the Sri Lankan railroad network because it is situated at the highest altitude in Sri Lanka.
 The altitude is 1891.56 meters above the mean sea level and 222.92km from Colombo.

Pattipola is surrounded by a number of tourist attractions.

Somewhere between Pattipola and Ohiya...

The highest it gets.
The summit level of the Sri Lankan Railway network. 
 Situated between Ohiya and Pattipola. At an altitude of 1898.1 meters above mean sea level and 224.027km from Colombo.
I'm really proud about this shot of this significant landmark. 

The gateway to the Horton Plains National Park. 
This is just next to the Ohiya Station...
This is another must see destination.

Ohiya. Not Ohio. :D
 The third highest station in the train station altitude list at 1791.77m above and 231.63 km away.

Travel young. Arrive late. Wise ass remark of henryblogwalker. :D

Rolling past Ohiya

They say there are 13  rail tunnels between Ohiya and Idalgashinna, which is only about 9 km apart and boasts the greatest number of tunnels between two train stations. 

Idal.gas.hinna in syllables.
 Idalgashinna at 1665.85 meters above the sea level, is the the 5th highest elevation a train station in the is Sri Lankan railroad network. Distance from Colombo is 240.55km.

It's only 189km by road according to the green sign board in the picture. Haputale is well known for 
the steep Haputale climb on the highway.

 Steel to cushion steel. The train buffers. And cars have bumpers.

The generation gap...huh!

Haputale is the seventh highest train station in Sri Lanka
at an altitude of 1479.57m and 247.66km from Colombo on rails. 


Memories in the making...
Diyatalawa station.  
Well known for cool climate and also for the military camps.

Bandarawela. A famous holiday destination. 
Known for its cool climate.

Kinigama. A rural station.

Kinigama Station. A rural small station.

So is Heel Oya...

Alla. Which means the waterfall.

There are times you have the whole compartment for yourself.

Obviously, tunneling through would have been the only option for the rail road engineers who designed this route. These were not done with the TBMs. It was manual labor.

This is a well known arch bridge in the network. 
The Demodara Bridge...

Demodara is a significant landmark being the only railway station in the world built over the railway tunnel. In other words the railroad loops around making the track pass under the the train station built on the mountain.

The train is swinging over the Demodara Spiral Loop. If you look closely you will see the passengers standing at the station watching the train they came in rumbling underneath the station through the tunnel.

Station before the final Destination. Hali Ala.

Badulla - The end of the Up country line. 

So the journey ended here. But to my immense relief, still there is the return journey to look forward to.

The way we found accommodating is an amusing story itself. 
As I said in the first episodes, we had made no prior arrangements for accommodation in Badulla. It was part of the adventure. We traveled light and were even ready to spend the night at the station in case we couldn't find a good place. We walked out of the station  and looked around for a taxi. It was then this dude who sells saara-bulath-witte (a kind of chewing delicacy with shredded, colored and sweetened dessicated coconut wrapped in a beetal leaf) walked up to me and tried to sell us his merchandise. 

When I told him that I wasn't interested, he asked if we were interested in lodging. 

"Now we are talking, dude," I said. "And where is it and how is it?"

"It's a very good place, sir." 

"We are interested only if it is very safe place," I brought up my conditions. "And it also has to be close to the station, clean and not ridiculously expensive. We need it only for the night."

"Got it, sir. You can come and take a look and decide if you like it. it's so close that no need to take a taxi. We can walk over there."

We agreed to go with him. He asked if we would like to take the shortcut or the main  road. As a precaution, I never take the shortcut in such situations for obvious safety reasons. I preferred the main road. I was chatting with him all the way which took about five minutes on the station road.  He seemed like a nice dude, who got a little commission from the guest house manager for luring in the customers like us. A harmless by-trade.

Actually the place wasn't bad. The manager didn't even ask for an advance. "First let's see if you are comfortable, sir" he said. "Money comes later." I liked his business ethic.

The place was clean and looked safe. We selected a room wih hot water paying a little extra. Actually it was not too expensive either, compared to what we paid for lodging in Jaffna a few weeks later.

We left our things in the room, and pocketed the wallets, camera and phones and explored the Badulla town in the night. Bought takeaways for dinner from a restaurant and ate in the room. That was also quite good.

The next morning, before leaving for the station, I went to the same place we bought the dinner and bought some bakery products as we had learned that the train's cafeteria car wasn't functioning. 

But we met this guard, who you see in the picture above, I struck up an instant friendship with, on our way back. When he heard that we were starving on our inbound journey to Badulla, said he could solve that problem. He phoned ahead to the dude who supplies his lunch at a station on the way and ordered lunch for us, too. So we were able to enjoy a hot and delicious meal on board. Actually we interacted with a lot of total strangers like that on this journey, who sometimes went out their their way to help.

That's why I think this journey was so memorable and eventful.

As promised on the schedule, the outbound train pulled out of Badula on time.

And then we were on our way back through the same picturesque landscape, making more memories we cherish.

Thank you.

PS. I personally believe, the toilet system that opens on to the tracks should be upgraded. This unhygienic system belongs to the 19th century and is disgusting. 
To maintain them the way they are, the trains compartments should be serviced regularly with upholstery cleaners and glass cleaners.  Considering this is a scenic tour, I hope it is not too much to ask for. 
We are generally not bothered about such trivialities as a nation I suppose. That maybe why even Sri Lankan airlines have dirty windows.

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  1. පොඩිකාලේ මට තිබ්බ ලොකු ආසාවක් turntable එකක් උඩ කෝච්චි එන්ජින් එකක් කරකනවා බලන එක මං කවදාවත් ඒක දැකලා නැහනේ, .

    ලස්සන ෆොටෝ ටික අයියේ. ඉරිසියාවේ බැහැ :(

    කලින් තිබ්බ ටෙම්ලේට් එකයි ඩෙනිමයි කෝ අප්පා ඒක ෂෝයි

    1. අපූර්වි මේ මගේ ඉංග්‍රීසි බ්ලොග් එක. ඒකයි. බොහොම ස්තුතියි කමෙන්ට් එකට.

  2. hi, i really like your journeys in father was a station master until 80 we used traveled by the train everywhere.we live in Canada now.if you can post next photo story to northern SL.

    1. Thanks very much. Nice to hear you enjoyed it so much. Your dad being a station master should have had some added meaning to it. This reminds me of the book The Railway Children.

      Actually we made a road trip to Jaffna for the first time in our lives last vacation. Still it is too ealry to talk about it because I'm exhausted doing this Badulla trip post. This is very time consuming. But I'm going to do it. Thanks again.

  3. Oh my Goodness! this is the ultimate finale! :O Blogwalker you just wrote this in such a way that we we were living in the story..... awesomely written :-h

    I loved the last bit a lot..... how you found lodging and then walked around the town y-) reminds of old times.... :D waiting to join you all on the trips soon.... w-)

    yes please tell about the Jaffna trip also when you are relaxed...... really there are nice people everywhere among the not nice ones g-) you three look very nice :-f

    1. Thank you. We are also waiting for you to come back and join us to make a trip like that.

  4. Hi, Gone through your nicely articulated pictorial. Throughout it I too was in the trip and it refreshed my mind about a trip we had on 2001 on the same tracks up to Haputale. We stayed at Adisham Bungalow, a very picturesque place run by the Benedictine fathers (If my memory is correct). Also made a visit to Diayathalawa Army camp as well. Those are fond memories longing to recall and your article paved the way
    Looking forward to read your diary through your visit to Jaffna and hope it too filled with many interesting flash notes with images

    1. Thank you Prasanna. Travelogues have always interested me, too. If I haven't been to that place it makes me want to and If I have been to that place already it brings back memories.

      Well, I have to write about the Jaffna tour, too.



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