Colombo To Sri Lanka’s Tea Country By Train
Colombo – Main Rail Station
The earliest station to be called Fort was a small station, built in 1877 when the Coast Line was built. This original station sat on the site of present-day Secretariat Halt just west of today’s Fort Station.
The present Fort Station was opened in 1917, as a new central station for Colombo. This has been constructed similar to Manchester Victoria station. The station was built on land reclaimed from the Beira Lake. This project was part of a scheme started in 1906 to reorganize the railway within Colombo, where Colombo Terminus Station was closed and replaced by the new Maradana Station. This was ceremonially opened by G.P. Green who was the General Manager at CGR. Fort was added in 1917 to serve the city centre.
Colombo to Kandy & Ella Train Journey – Most Scenic Train Journey in the World
Colombo to Kandy and Ella Train Journey-Everything You Must Know. Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It’s set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest.
One of the best ways of traveling through Sri Lanka is without a doubt by train. You meet locals, you can look outside of the window or doors to enjoy the variety of landscapes and taste the local food sold by train vendors calling ‘wade wade’. It definitely is the most memorable, cheapest and at some points most beautiful way of experiencing local community and culture in Sri Lanka. The City of Kandy is the last capital of Sri Lanka’s ancient kings. When you are in Kandy, it is a must to visit landmarks such as the Temple of the Tooth, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The city’s heart is scenic Kandy Lake which is popular for strolling Enjoy countryside scenery and learn a bit about the Sri Lankan history and culture.
The Kandy to Ella train actually starts in Colombo, but the highlights are the journey from Kandy to Ella and takes about 9-10 hours in total, well worth the long journey, it stops at Hill Country towns like Nuwara Eliya and Haputale, places highly recommend visiting. It’s hard to forget the experience of taking the train through Sri Lankan tea country. Nothing compares to the cold air that comes in through the windows and the endless rolling hills of tea plantations and lush forests. The Eastern train route takes you from Kandy to Nanu Oya, on to Ella and Badulla. You must first take the train from Colombo to Kandy and then change lines at Kandy to ride the Main Line.
The Kandy to Ella train ride forms one section of the ‘Main Line’, the longer Colombo to Kandy to Badulla route that snakes its way through the stunning hill country and tea plantation heart of Sri Lanka. As well as being insanely scenic, the Kandy to Ella train journey is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in not only just Sri Lanka but the world.
The locals are lovely people
The people of Ella are so relaxed that they will inject that feeling in all visitors. Their smiles are genuine and that general feeling of chill is felt all around the town. From the cafes, hotels to shops and the people walking along the train tracks and the tuk tuk drivers, they are all lovely and can become your friends quite quickly. The people, when you meet them, are very welcoming, friendly and love to help even when you don’t ask for it.
Kandy Railway Station
Rail was introduced in Sri Lanka in 1864 to transport coffee from plantations in the hill country district of Kandy to the port city of Colombo on its way to Europe and the world market. The coffee blight of 1871 destroyed many a fine plantation and tea replaced coffee. With the development of tea plantations in the 1880s, the joint stock companies swallowed up the former individual proprietorship of the coffee era. Under corporate ownership and management control by companies, the process of production of tea became more sophisticated and needed more and more railways built to the Kandyan highlands. To send tea to Colombo and to transport labour, machinery, manure, rice and foodstuff, etc to Kandy, another 100 miles of railways were constructed in the tea planting districts to serve the expanding tea domain
To serve the coconut plantations flourishing in the west, south west and north west coastal areas of the country, and the wet inland rubber plantations below the tea belt, railway lines were built in the wake of these agricultural developments. Thereafter, the need for cheap and safe travel in order to open up the hinterland of the country led to the expansion of the railway.
Air-conditioned 1st class (AFC), 1 car, all reserved
2nd class: 2 unreserved cars, 1 reserved car.
1st class observation car
The man at the seat61.com says “If you can get tickets for it, the 1st class observation car is the best way to experience and photograph the journey from Colombo up into Tea Country. The excellent view back along the track gives an unrivalled picture of how this wonderful railway is constructed, often hugging the hillside with overhanging rocks.”
The Chinese-built blue trains
1st Class – These tickets are reserved tickets and can be bought in advance to guarantee yourself a seat. The compartments also contain A/C. The downside of these tickets is you have no open doors and windows to hang out of for that picture perfect shot and they are filled 95% by tourists.
During the holiday season, these tickets sell out months in advance so get in early. We were disappointed we missed out on the 1st class but after riding in 2nd class, we were more than happy with our arrangement. 2nd Class – Tickets can only be bought on the day of travel. You cannot reserve a seat; therefore, you are not guaranteed to get a seat.
ABOUT THE KANDY TO ELLA TRAIN RIDE
The views on both sides of the railway are breathtaking. The train winds through the mountains overlooking farms and villages and of course vast tea plantations. The scenery continually changes throughout the trip. Often at times, you are looking out at an entire green view than the next minute you are in the middle of a woodland forest. It’s a beautiful region to view from the train and there are also so many places to visit in Kandy when you step off the train as well!
It definitely is the most memorable, cheapest and at some points most beautiful way of experiencing local community and culture in Sri Lanka. The City of Kandy is the last capital of Sri Lanka’s ancient kings. When you are in Kandy, it is a must to visit landmarks such as the Temple of the Tooth, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The city’s heart is scenic Kandy Lake which is popular for strolling Enjoy countryside scenery and learn a bit about the Sri Lankan history and culture.
The train trip from Kandy to Ella is not only taken by tourists but by locals themselves. This isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s normal way of life for the people of Sri Lanka and I’m sure they must find is somewhat amusing how excited tourists are about a simple train ride. On this Kandy to Ella train journey, you can walk around the carriages, go to the toilet, visit the food stand or purchase local snacks from vendors who wander about.
The lush green hills are purely breathtaking. The train takes you high into the mountains, through dense forest & vibrant green tea fields, over bridges, through tunnels, with eerily huge drop-offs at local villages and beside smiling faces. If you look closely every so often, you’ll notice the colourfully dressed ladies pop their heads up amongst the tea fields as they carry on with their work.
Tips for Kandy to Ella Train
You cannot buy a second class reserved seat at the train station on the day of travel. You must book in advance.
Bring water and snacks for the journey.
Start your journey at Kandy or Peradeniya Junction station to get a seat.
Avoid travelling on weekends, bank holiday days- Also avoid travel over Sinhalese Tamil New Year.
Make sure you catch a blue train- You can ask the clerk at the ticket office if the train will be blue.
Only get the express trains- slow trains are far busier than the express trains.
Take it in turns to go to the open doors to take photos.
There are toilets onboard.
During the Kandy to Ella train journey, you can walk around the carriages, go to the toilet, visit the food stand or purchase some snacks from vendors who wander about.
Bring small change-There are quite a few food vendors on board the train and at certain stops along the way. They usually require you to have small change to purchase short eats, chai tea and cold drinks etc.
Bring toilet paper/sanitizer, the trains do have toilets but they are as clean as you would expect!
Keep your ticket coupon until you exit the station, they will ask for it when you get off the train. Don’t take the overnight train from Kandy to Ella – you miss the beautiful scenery!
Sit on the right side of the train from Kandy – Ella.
Sit on the left side of the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella..
Look after your belongings.
The most scenic part of the journey is between Haputale and Ella and Ella and Badulla.
Team up with another couple to look after belongings.
Take your camera – the views are incredible!
Before taking this train, you should know that one side of the train is significantly more scenic than the other on the journey between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. You really need to be on the right side of the train for this journey.
Do not sit on the left side, you will mainly see tall grass and a cliff. Whereas the other side are seeing glorious tea plantations and huge open beautiful views.
Please remember to avoid boarding to slow goods train.
But remember don’t be reckless! Leaning out of the train can look fun but its highly dangerous, be careful and be aware!