Ella: A Photographer’s Paradise & Writer’s Muse

I sit amidst a blanket of clouds listening to the faraway prayer calls and temple bells from the Ravana caves, and reminisce my two days in Ella.

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At the Ella Mount Relax Cottage

Ella is paradise. I am very surprised, and slightly amused, that when people visit Sri Lanka, they just stick to the beaches. In hindsight, I am glad, I didn’t; because I saw much more than I had expected.

I had heard quite a bit about the train journey from Kandy to Ella; so as soon as I got to Kandy, I headed to the train station to book my tickets. I did not manage any tickets on that day and was told to return an hour before the train I wanted to take to get on in a general compartment. Fortunately, on the intended day, I did manage a seat in the second class compartment, and it was all worth it.

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En route Ella from Kandy

As an Indian, the first thing I observed is that the train is very clean, as is the country. The Sri Lankan trains could also serve a model example that airlines need to follow in terms of leg space; because when they say leg space, there really is leg space to sit comfortably.

It was a good 7 hour journey from Kandy to Ella, and the views on the way were worth every bit. For most part of the journey, I had my camera in action mode! The journey was a breathtaking glimpse of the creator’s skills. The greens, the woods, the grey skies with a little sunlight peeking through the clouds; it was nothing but perfection!

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The train journey from Kandy to Ella.

Past 10 days in Sri Lanka were horribly hot and humid. With Kandy, the pleasantness started coming in. When I got to Ella, it was raining, and it was green. I was almost walking through the clouds.

That evening, I headed to Ella village and indulged into some good food at Chillis and then walked around a bit. Ella village is full of travelers and tea shops. It is a paradise for tea connoisseurs. There is a variety of tea that is sold here from different regions of Sri Lanka. You can find anything from vintage tea to mountain tea to masala chai, and also slimming tea. I hit the sack early that evening as next day was expected to be hectic and full of adventure.

The next day, I woke up early to a breathtaking view from my room at the cottage. After breakfast, I headed up for a walk to the green tea estate that was about a good 4-5 kms from the cottage. Ideally I would have taken a tuk tuk to that place and spent a fortune to get there (an easy 400 lkr). Fortunately, Jennifer (who I had met at Kandy station on that first day when I was looking for tickets) insisted we walk. Everyone, except Indians, tend to walk a lot.

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Walk to the tea estate

That walk was a marathon for me; but Jennifer seemed absolutely at ease. The motivation and company helped a lot. Eventually, I realised that if I could actually climb the entire way up to Sigiriya (that is another dramatic story), I could actually do anything in life!

We got to the green tea estate after almost 45 minutes, with quite a few pictures of the view on the way. At the estate, we learned how green tea is made, packaged and exported. It was a nice experience.

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The Tea Estate

After visiting the estate, we decided to climb the Little Adam’s Peak on our way back to the village. The climb, again, nearly killed me. It was a good 4-5 kms to the peak and back (probably more), but it was worth the climb! The view from the peak was spectacular!

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View from the Little Adam’s Peak.

From there, we headed back to Ella village and then to Ravana temple (which is a Buddhist cave temple by the way). Also, Ella has no ATM for foreign cash withdrawals (as of March 2016). So if you run out of cash, you need to get a bus (not tuk tuk; it will cost you a fortune) to the next town and back. It is a 30-minute bus ride.

The next morning, I was taking a train to Colombo and then back to Abu Dhabi. Before I left, I captured my last sight of Ella.

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The last sunrise at Ella.

I am glad that I went to Ella. Now when I sit and write my account of my two weeks in Sri Lanka, Ella is one of the most beautiful parts of it. Which is why I started the series with Ella. It was the much needed muse for the creative me. Finally, I am at peace.

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Storyteller. Ambivert. Feminist. Bibliophile. Solo Traveller. Dreamer. Capoeirista. Photographer. Postcrosser. Samosa glutton. Cartwheel queen. Potterhead. Bombay girl.

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