Train travel is the most comfortable, affordable, and easiest means of transportation in Sri Lanka especially considering the traffic on the road. The Railway Network was introduced in Sri Lanka by the British in 1864 to transport tea and coffee from the hill country to the capital Colombo. Today, Sri Lanka Railway operates approximately 396 trains which include 67 Long-Distance and 16 Intercity trains and carries about 3.72 million passengers daily. The train journey is an extremely affordable way to see the beautiful countryside of Sri Lanka. The routes of the Sri Lankan railway network are scenic, with the mainline passing (or crossing) waterfalls, mountains, tea estates, pine forests, bridges, and peak stations. Out of all train trips, the Kandy to Ella train trip or the reverse journey, Ella to Kandy trip, a 7- hour journey, is the most beautiful train ride in Sri Lanka, most probably in the world.
The trip offers breath-taking views of lush green tea plantations, mountains, viaducts, valleys, wonderful old bridges, waterfalls, and dense jungles. The highlights of this train trip are the Nine Arch Bridge also known as the Bridge in the Sky, located in between Demodera and Demodera railways stations, and spectacular 441 feet long Demodera Loop where the railway track passes under itself and comes out from the tunnel; a hallmark of Sri Lankan railway construction.
A few tips for Kandy to Ella train trip:
The Kandy to Ella train stops at the following stations:
Hatton (Adam's Peak)
Nanuoya (Nuwara Eliaya)
You need not do the entire journey from Kandy to Ella in one go. Instead, you may stop at any of the stations along the way –Kandy, Hatton, Nanuoya, or Haputale and explore that area. Each of these Hill Country is beautiful in its way.
Reserve your seats in advance
To enjoy these train journeys, it is highly recommended that you buy the tickets in advance through an agent or buy them online and reserve your seats. You can buy your ticket directly at any railway station too. If you pre-book a ticket in the first class (also known as the observation carriage), you will get your comfortable seat throughout the journey and a fantastic view of the sceneries. But the only drawback is that you cannot take snaps since the first class is air-conditioned and so you cannot open the windows. The best option, if you want to take photographs, is the second class where you will get your own reserved/ unreserved seat but since it is not air-conditioned, you can open the windows.
Sit at the best spot
If you want the best photos of your sceneries, you must sit on the right side of the train. The right side of the train is the best option up to Nuwara Eliya. Then move to the left side for the rest of the journey
Bring your food
It is advisable to bring your food because the options are very limited. But during the journey, it is a common sight that the local vendors will get on the train and sell food items like spicy snacks, peanuts, and fresh fruit which you can try. Otherwise, buy some snacks before onboarding the train.