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In Photos: Chugging up Sri Lanka’s Hill Country.

Earlier this week, we boarded the blue train from Kandy towards Ella, hoping for some respite from the rain that had enveloped Kandy. Little did I know then that thanks to the rain, we were going to witness one of the most spectacular train journeys I’ve done in all of Asia. We chugged up the hill country of Sri Lanka, winding along tea plantations, forests, waterfalls, streams, rivers, sleepy villages, and mountain tunnels.

Here’s a glimpse of this journey through my lens, taken with the Canon IXUS point and shoot:

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1. RIDING THE BLUE TRAIN IN SRI LANKA
through its postcard countryside, a little like the toy train in the Indian Himalayas and Western Ghaats.

train to Ella, Sri Lanka hill country, Sri Lanka train, kandy to ella train

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2. WATCHING THE RAIN 
paint the hill country a lush green through the train window. It rains all year round in this part of Sri Lanka, and the light rain makes the journey even more spectacular.

Sri Lanka rain, Sri Lanka weather, Sri Lanka monsoon

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3. WINDING ALONG THE TEA PLANTATIONS
of Sri Lanka to realize that with a terrain so pristine, it’s no wonder that the country produces some of the world’s finest tea!

Sri Lanka tea plantations, Sri Lanka tea estates, Nuwara Eliya tea, Sri Lanka photos

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4. STOPPING AT QUAINT LITTLE RAILWAY STATIONS
to catch a glimpse of life, as it unfolds on the Sri Lankan countryside.

Sri Lanka train, Sri Lanka pictures, Kandy to Ella train

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5. CROSSING SLEEPY SRI LANKAN VILLAGES
where life could pass by just watching the clouds flirt with the tea-covered hills.

Sri Lanka villages, Sri Lanka rural, Sri Lankan village, Sri Lanka photos, train to Ella

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6. MUNCHING ON SHORT EATS
(fresh breads stuffed with veggies), peanuts, and KIK Cola (Sri Lanka’s version of Coke), and chatting with fellow passengers about romancing the rains in Sri Lanka’s hill country.

Sri Lanka photos, Sri Lanka villages, Sri Lanka rural, train Kandy to Ella

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7. GAZING AT THE MIST
and realizing that your thoughts are as foggy as the scenery outside.

Sri Lanka tea plantations, Sri Lanka monsoon, Sri Lanka rains, train to Ella, Sri Lanka pictures

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8. SPOTTING STUNNING WATERFALLS 
among the tea plantations of Sri Lanka, and longing to cool under the gushing waters.

Sri Lanka waterfalls, Sri Lanka nature, Sri Lanka photos, train to Ella

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9. GAPING WHEN THE MIST RISES
because it hid beneath such stunning landscapes as no one warned you Sri Lanka would have!

Sri Lanka hill country, Sri Lanka photos, Sri Lanka train, Kandy to Ella train

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10. FEELING THE WIND IN YOUR HAIR
as the landscapes transform, and never cease to take your breath away.

Sri Lanka train, Sri Lanka pictures, Sri Lanka nature, Kandy to Ella train

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Have you taken the train to Ella? What’s the most spectacular train ride you’ve ever done?

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Note: All pictures in this photo essay were taken by the Canon IXUS, given to me for a product review by Canon India.

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Also read:

Sri Lanka: First Impressions

In Photos: Majuli Island, Assam

Ibiza: A Photo Essay

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Join me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to follow my adventures in Sri Lanka live.

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34 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hey! They are awesome pictures! (Thanks to Canon and you!)
    When you are back and are missing this ride- try taking the Konkan railways- very similar picturesque scenes. Goa-Karnataka-Kerala almost parallel to the coastline…. The hills-clouds-tunnels-unexpected waterfalls-and the streams merging into the ocean… The scenes were awesome… accompanied with Vada-pavs and weird combinations like ripe Banana pakodas ;)

    June 24, 2013
    • You describe it beautifully, Ramya! I’ve done a little stretch on this train, via Coorg, and remember it being absolutely stunning. Got to give the whole thing a try after hearing you describe it :)

      July 2, 2013
  2. Looks heavenly awesome.

    June 24, 2013
  3. Greenery all around.really refreshing …

    June 24, 2013
    • Glad you felt refreshed, Chitra. I felt exactly the same on the train!

      July 2, 2013
  4. WOW!! Must do this the next time I am on the island. Love the photos, great work.

    June 24, 2013
    • Thank you! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did :) Let me know how it goes.

      July 2, 2013
  5. Great pictures Buddy!!! And yeah, you made the things easier with written activities too…

    June 24, 2013
  6. This is exactly what i loved about Sri Lanka too. It’s all green :)

    June 24, 2013
  7. The pictures are lovely and the place looks full of natural beauty and serene. I need a vacation and I am gonna ask you for help.

    Btw aint the picture edited or something? The color quality looks very good.

    June 24, 2013
    • Happy to help! Where are you planning to go?

      The pictures aren’t edited but the Cannon Ixus has a “Super vivid” mode which makes the colors look much more vivid. I loved clicking in that mode :)

      July 2, 2013
  8. NG #

    The best is when the ‘cloud’ comes in from one side creeping in through the windows and door and your fellow passengers disappear like ghosts…then it swirls slowly out of the windows and door on the other side…!!!! creepy and surreal!

    All Sri Lankans love the ‘up country’ train ride on Udarata Manike

    June 24, 2013
    • Agreed, and on my train, a bird entered with the clouds and created quite some entertainment!

      Aha, I did go to Badulla but took a bus from Ella instead of the train. Damn!

      July 2, 2013
      • You have missed the icing on the cake :)

        January 11, 2014
  9. Wonderful pictures. The countrysides are very inviting. I have some posts on Sigiriya, Kandy etc.

    June 24, 2013
    • Thanks! Would love to read them :)

      July 2, 2013
  10. Blissfully spectacular! :)

    June 25, 2013
  11. Beautiful pics specially that waterfall with mist and tea plantation. Are all the trains are painted in deep blue color from outside?

    June 26, 2013
    • Thanks Manish, the terrain was just that beautiful. Not really, only a few trains are this color (usually the slower ones, toy train like). The rest are a deep red.

      July 2, 2013
  12. Beautiful. My favourite train journey is definitely in Norway, from Bergen to the village of Flam, gateway to one of the country’s many fjords. Recent favourite is the Heart of Wales line in the UK. Would love to visit India to hop on one of its train; and it looks now I will have to include Sri Lanka!

    July 1, 2013
    • You absolutely have to include Sri Lanka; I’m sure you’ll love it.

      Both those train journeys (and places in general) are on my list, and you just made them move higher up on my wish list :)

      July 2, 2013
  13. Hi There,

    Lovely pictures. Have heard so much about Sri Lanka and its beauty and heres the proof. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures. Looks inviting.
    :)
    Fuad

    July 2, 2013
  14. the tea plantations remind me of my drive through munnar. (from munnar town to pulimootil tea estate) just gorgeous ! i haven’t been on an interesting train ride though…..

    January 12, 2014
  15. JC #

    Your post makes my resolve to visit Sri Lanka even stronger. And I was just wondering if monsoon travel here would be worth it. Fantastic photos.

    March 4, 2014
  16. I’ve gone through all of your posts on Sri Lanka, Shivya and I can assure they have the power to convert even a Sri Lanka phobic person to get glued to that place. Period.

    What I would love to read is the details of your trip, those trivial and mundane things that if left unplanned could create a nuisance. I reckon it’s not your style to delve into the intricate details, but it would be great if you could indulge in such stuff every now and then to help the rest of us make the trip go as smoothly as possible with the least hiccups.

    Here are just a few things you can guide us about:

    1. What were the different cities, towns and villages that you visited during your two-week stay and where did you stay at each place?

    2. What are the memorable places to check out in each city/town?

    3. Which city/town you found to be the most bland and can be overlooked.

    4. How did you arrange transportation to reach the train station for the 6am train from Kandy to Ella? Is there public transportation available at 5am in the morning?

    5. What were the obstacles you faced along the way and what are the pitfalls to avoid for anyone aspiring to travel to Sri Lanka?

    And a ton of other things only you would know could be beneficial for first-timers to Sri Lanka.

    You would be doing a great service to all your readers by divulging these details as well in addition to the awe-inspiring posts you’ve already shared.

    May 14, 2014

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