A Scenic train journey in Sri Lanka – Colombo to Ella

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A Scenic train journey in Sri Lanka – Colombo to Ella

I have a fascination toward “scenic” journey. Isn’t it nice to hop into a train or bus, sit idly in a comfortable chair with some foods and drinks and enjoy things in the both sides of the road passing by with a long lasting effect on you?

When, I was planning for my trip to Sri Lanka, I found people suggesting to take Colombo to Galle or Colombo to Ella route. I choose the second one and glad about it later.

First of all, the route is very popular among tourists, so, you should book your ticket earlier. If you plan to buy the ticket on the date of your travel, you might be disappointed. I was searching for tickets to buy online and I found two websites – Exporail and Rajadhani Express. At first, I was a bit confused as I thought them to be train operated by those companies. However, I found the time table as unique. Later, on the date of journey, I found that, there is only one train which is ran by the government railway of Sri Lanka. However, those two companies attached two carriages with their logo and color scheme.

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I found, the website of Exporail more user friendly and my Bangladeshi credit card worked, so, I purchased a both way ticket by with LKR 3950 (US$ 28) in Exporail. I am pretty sure that, if you could manage a ticket in the public compartment, you would have got it much much cheaper. However, I did not ran into an uncertainty on the date of journey. The ticket price of Rajadhani Express was a bit cheaper, however, I was a bit confused about their route. They did not mention any route to Ella. Later, I realised that, Colombo to Bandulla would have taken me to Ella. Ella is an intermittent station.

The train starts at 9:45 AM from Colombo fort station. On the date of the journey, I went to the station with my (mighty) backpack. I had a copy of my confirmation letter. I had to show it to a specific counter. They printed me with a real ticket. It’s worth mentioning that, you would be able to choose seat while purchasing ticket online. It is better to have a window seat in the middle. I found the scenery at the left hand side more interesting while going to Colombo to Ella. One might expect an observation deck. When, I went there, I did not find any. So, you have to take photos behind a glass as you can’t open it due to the air-conditioning system in the train.

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When, I boarded in the train, I was warmly greeted by the crew inside the carriage. There was two gentlemen with white shirt and green tie to take care of everything. The concept of the carriage was pretty interesting. They installed a separate air conditioning system which you use in home in the carriage. They also had a CPU along with a big monitor to show films. I had to see Johnny English in both of my legs 🙂

I was served with a breakfast(and a lunch later). So, all you need to take is extra bottle of waters with you.

And, then the journey begins! By no way it’s an express train, and it will stop in almost every station along the way. I don’t want to frighten you, but, there will be 89 stations before you reach to Ella, more than 9 hours to cover 200 KM. Every train station had a pattern, it’s shaded with a tin on the top and had wooden waiting chairs. The wall was painted with bright colors. Not to mention, the stations were decorated with colourful flowers in beautiful tubs.

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It’s almost green all the way through, however, the green becomes greener after halfway. Throughout the journey, you will see tea gardens, fountains, bus roads in the bottom, clouds hovering over your head, muddy rivers, clear blue sky and fields of gold. At one point, you will discover yourself with many other to jump up and down and lean toward a certain section for taking photos. I went to the gate of the train, where you can see nature without the bar of a glass. Be careful though, if you fall, you might be an object of observation to other viewers.

Oh! How could I forget those curves! At one point, the train became so curvy, I could take this snap inside the train.

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You have to experience it to understand, how beautiful it could be! If you go there for a small amount of time, I would suggest you to take an alternate route while coming back as you might not want to experience the slow journey in the span of a week.

Fuad Omar

Fuad Omar

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