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DateLine Sunday, 20 May 2007

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Cascading beauties

'The Pearl of the Indian ocean' has much to boast of when it comes to nature:



Bambarakanada Falls



Dunhinda Falls

With it is a diverse climatic, geographical, and topographical feature Sri Lanka offers a vast range of beautiful scenic sites to the nature lover. Amongst these are the beautiful scenic sites to the nature lover. Amongst these are the beautiful waterfalls found mainly in Central and mid-country hills of the country.

The four main rivers, Mahaveli, Kalani, Kalu, and Walawe emerge in the Central hills and on their downward journey to merge with the mighty Indian Ocean form many, many beautiful water falls. Two such cascading beauties in the Uva-Province are the Dunhinda and Diyaluma Falls. Dunhida Falls in the Badulla District is perhaps the most famous waterfalls in the Island.

Sixty three meters in height, this Fall is situated off the Badulla-Mahiyangana main road, about 10 kilometres away from the Badulla town. To reach the falls, one has to walk alone a foot path through a mini forest.

Now several small boutiques and shops have come up flanking the foot path. Sadly due to these encroachments and the destruction of the surrounding forests, the once serene and unpolluted environment around the Falls is no more. The bundles of sandalwood sticks no sales nearby, bear testimony to the sad tale of the mindless destruction of the once majestic forests.

Diyaluma Falls with its formation of a long silvery veil perhaps, is the most gorgeous waterfall in Uva. Once believed to be the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka but now outbeaten by the Bambarakanda Falls, this Fall is 171 meters in height and is supposed to be the 62nd highest waterfall in the world and the 3rd highest in the island.

Situated by the Beragala-Koslanda main road, this Falls is easily reached. One could behold the glory of this cascading beauty from the comfort of the tourist hotels situated opposite the Falls.

The Poonagala elephant herd that once roamed the forest close to the Falls have sought greener pastures in Handapanagala due to deforestation. Deforestation taking place relentlessly is bound to adversely affect this falls too in the future. The Peezza Falls though not as famous, is another cascading beauty in the Uva Province.

In height 45 meters, this huge waterfall gushes down like a tornado into a deep ravine, below. One could witness the water at the base of the falls spurting up in a blow hole sort of motion.

An unpolluted waterfall, this Falls could be reached by travelling on the Badulla-Baticaloa road to Passara and then proceeding to a remote division of Hopton Estate close to the Gamewela village.

From that point onward one would have to walk alone a narrow and difficult food path running along side a canal. This walk, for those who enjoy outdoor activity would be an adventure to be remembered!

The Bambarakanda Falls, situated in lower Haldummulla area in the Badulla district is the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka with a height of 241 meters. It is also said to be the 48th highest Fall in the world, and the highest falls in the Walawe river.

It can be reached by travelling on the Colombo-Badulla road and then turning left at the Kalupahana junction close to Haldummulla. One could view the typical Uva countryside while travelling along this picturesque country road via Weerakoongama lined by hundreds of multi-coloured wild flowers.

It is said that a royal garden existed around the base of the Falls and that the flowers we see today are the remnants of this royal garden. The water spills down very huge mountains sloping two tiers.

However, the volume of water is low most of the year, so much so that one might appreciated the beautiful surroundings on the road to the falls than the Falls itself. Here again man-induced forest fire and deforestation in the area may have contributed to this.

The Bambarakanda Falls and the Rawana Falls are also two waterfalls found in the Badulla district. Both these Falls are located within the Ella Divisional Secretariat. Bandaragama Falls though called Rawana-Ella by many, is actually not the original Rawana Falls.

The actual Rawana Falls is located on the Ella Kithal Ella main road about 3 kilometres away from the Ella town situated amidst the lofty hills of green Ella, abutting the Udarata Menike rail track this beautiful waterfalls can be seen in full spate during rainy season.

One could have a spectacular view of the Falls from the well kept flower garden of the Ambiante Hotel in Ella. The Bambaragama Falls located besides the Ella Wellawaya road, about 2 kilometres away from the Ella Grand Motel. (Previously Ella Rest House) is a large and beautiful Falls that cascades into several tiers before making a final plunge to the pool below which is a popular bathing spot patronised by local tourists.

Forty meters in height this natural beauty provides water to many a folk including the adjacent tea estates during the drought season. Two other cascading beauties in the Nuwara Eliya district belonging to the Central Province are the Devon Falls and St. Clair Falls.

Devon Falls is situated in close proximity to the Nuwara Eliya-Hatton road and can be viewed from the Devon tea centre which is right opposite the Falls. In height 97 meters, this Falls is a popular tourist attraction situated amidst the tea fields of Devon Estate and is named after the famous English coffee planter Devon.

Due to the forest clearing and vegetable cultivation taking place in the area, environmentalist fear that the falls may dry up in the years to come. St. Clairs Falls also situated close to the, Nuwara Eliya-Hatton main road is known as the 'Niagara Falls of Sri Lanka', is the broadest waterfall in the island.

80 Meters in height, it has earned the reputation of beginning the most beautiful waterfall in the country and was called the 'Bridal Veil' during the colonial era. Situated in the tea fields of St. Clairs Estate, and created by the Kotmale Oya, this beauty will be sadly lost from sight once the upper-Kothmale hydro power project is commissioned. Situated amidst the virgin Horton Plains is the Bakers Falls.

Named after the famous British governor, Sir. Samuel Baker who discovered this Falls. Baker's falls is 22 meters in height. It is created by the Belihul Oya which is a tributary of the Walawe ganga and is situated between Ohiya and Nanu Oya. The falls which cascades into several years along a rocky mountain slope spills into a steep ravine below.

The vegetation around this snowy white cascading beauty is very different to that which is found around the other waterfalls. Rhododendrons and huge palm type trees grow in the vicinity of this waterfall. The most number of waterfalls in Sri Lanka are found in the Sabaragamuwa Province.

The Bopath Ella Falls is undoubtedly the most popular waterfall in Sabaragamuwa situated on the hilly slopes off Kuruvita. This Falls is 30 meters in height and is created by the Kuru Ganga, a tributary of the Kalu Ganga.

The Falls makes a rhythmic spill through a narrow gap in rocky mountain slope and ultimately spreads out in to the shape of a Bo-leaf. This rare and beautiful formation gives it the name 'Bopath Ella'.

Easily accessible along the Devipahala Road at Kuruvita off the Colombo-Badulla main road, one good relax and behold the glory of the Falls from the tourist hotel situated right opposite the Falls.

But sadly the vicinity of the Falls is polluted due to the commercialisation of the area with rows of tiny shops lining, the path to the river below the Falls. Kirindi Ella Falls though not well known is a beautiful and large waterfall situated in the imposing mountains of Pelmadulla and perhaps is the most beautiful Falls in Sabaragamuwa.

116 meters in height this Falls is the seventh highest waterfall in the island which resembles a silvery Fall of a saree. Created by the Kirindi Ella a tributary of the Denawaka River this Falls is easily accessible along the Kuttapitiya Road right opposite the Sathosa outlet in the Pelmadulla road. One could walk right up to the bottom of the Falls along a flight of steps constructed by the Pelmadulla Pradeshiya Sabha.

The Falls could be viewed close to the Pelmadulla town when travelling along the Colombo-Badulla main road. The Bo Ella is a miniature waterfall found in the foot hills of the Mawanella area. Although only 3 meters in height, it has a huge volume of water which spills down to a rocky pool below creating a huge whirlpool, which is a rare phenomenon.

The waterfall is created as a result of the We Oya making its way through a small gap in a huge rock bank to merge with the Kalu Ganga.

Situated in a picturesque setting this falls is the location of the teledrama, Uthuwan Kande Saradiel. Waterfalls such as these are a valuable treasures of our island for their natural beauty as well as their economic potential. Aradunu Falls also known as Arjuna falls is yet another small but beautiful waterfall found within El Teb Estate in Passara.

About 30 Meters in height this miniature beauty gushes down in awesome splendour along a steep ravine to join the Lokgaloya. Rachitha Perera the manager of El Teb group Passara says that the waterfall provides the hydro power to function the large tea factory of this beautifully maintained tea estate that manufactures splendid tea.

It is upto the citizens of this island and of course the responsible authorities to take all measures to protect them.

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