By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
Those who travel to Nuwara Eliya - the Little England in Sri Lanka - usually pick one of the two much-trodden routes, Ramboda route and Hatton route. When the factors; distance from Colombo, traffic, weather, visibility and level of difficulty to drive onthese roads are concerned, the two routes may score differently but as far as the sceneries are concerned, both routes hold a number of hotspots along the road that will make you stop, enjoy the view and snap a few photograps.
Ramboda and Hatton routes undoubtedly are scenic but they are not the only routes in the hill country of Sri Lanka that makes you want to slow down or stop completely, to bask in the natural beauty the surrounding has to offer. Sandwiched between the two main routes to Nuwara Eliya is the famous, rich-in-history and yet, less-travelled town, Kotmale.
Ceylon Today was in Kotmale recently and managed to capture snippets of some of the natural grandeur Kotmale possesses on camera.
We drove along the Hatton route up until Ginigathhena from where we turned towards Nawalapitiya. The tiresome uphill climb we had to endure, had us take a momentary break as the drive until Nawalapitiya was more or less along a plain. On both sides of the road, paddy cultivation was flourishing and traditional farming methods such as using buffaloes in farming could be witnessed. From Nawalapitiya, the route again became somewhat mountainous but we didn’t mind as we were busy clicking away the one-after-the-other sceneries we came across.
Kotmale is famous for its reservoir, dam and Mahaweli Maha Seya. Although the route we took didn’t take us closer to any of them, we were able to capture all three in one frame from an elevated point of view and perhaps in many ways, the panoramic view of the reservoir, dam and the stupa might be much better than an up-close click.
We visited Kotmale during the rainy season, thus on a few occasions our drive was momentarily hindered by landslides courtesy the heavy rainfall. This is the very reason, many might think that it is not wise to visit Kotmale when it is pours, as it poses a certain danger and low visibility. On quite the contrary, we think that one should visit Kotmale when it rains as it gives birth to a number of waterfalls which can only be seen that way in wet weather. Even the waterfalls that sustain water the year around are invigorated by the surplus amount of water and so, fall in full capacity, making quite the spectacles.
Majority of residents in this part of the country depend on cultivation and tea is their go-to crop. Every household has a small but healthy patch of tea along with a few other crops. Not to the extent of tea but coffee too is substantially grown in Kotmale. As luck would have it, we visited Kotmale when the coffee cherries were starting to turn red and we were lucky to witness some farmers harvesting coffee.
Although less-visited it is not as if Kotmale is lacking tourist attractions. Tourism is yet to be established in Kotmale but judging by the plethora of attractions the small town in the Hill Country possesses, the day Kotmale becomes the next best tourist destination in the country might not be that far down the future.
(Pix by Anuruddha Medawattegedara)