The railroad line in the highlands of Sri Lanka is still a breathtaking experience today. Not because the express covers the distance particularly quickly. On the contrary, the view is so beautiful that it can’t go slow enough. On the distance of 65 km we are on the road for 3.5 hours.
In 1876 the railroad line was built by the British colonial power to transport goods cheaply from the highlands to the port city of Colombo. Tea, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg were the valuable goods for which the effort was worthwhile. Narrow curves and numerous tunnels had to be constructed to cope with the enormous gradients through the rugged mountains. The railroad line is a remnant from the time when tea was an important colonial commodity for the British. Today, from the railroad line, one can see the best growing areas of the former colonial goods and immerse oneself in colonial history.
If you absolutely want a cushioned seat, reserve one in first class. However, the best view is at the doors of the simpler categories, which remain open during the ride.
Most travelers only stow their luggage in one carriage. During the journey, they make a pilgrimage through all the carriages, get acquainted with the other passengers, and even the conductor is not averse to a chat.
The journey ends unscheduled on the siding. But that doesn’t matter, because everyone knows each other from the long trip and there are plenty of helping hands. Finally, everyone is standing on the platform of Ella with their luggage.
The research trip was supported by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism