May 2018


Belihuloya to Nagarak
May 2018




A stunning scene of verdant landscapes along the drive to Nagarak

It was warm and humid when we reached Belihuloya and began our ascent to Nagarak. Little did we know that within a few hours we would reach almost 6,000ft and it would be freezing cold!


Words: Udeshi Amarasinghe
Photography: Menaka Aravinda and Geeth Viduranga


Sri Lanka is a mesmerising island where one can experience warm as well as cooling weather in just a matter of a couple of hours. This journey too was one such endeavour. The roads became steep and narrow as we drove along the contours of the hills. Bend after bend we turned holding on to the handles as we swerved, enjoying every moment.


The landscape was a beautiful green with mountains and valleys spreading far and wide. Gushing little streams and the many waterfalls created the perfect setting. From a distance the glistening lines of water could be seen thus indicating waterfalls of various heights. Some were near, and others far, but the vision created was impressive.

The landscape was a beautiful green with mountains and valleys spreading far and wide.


Up and up we went, the vegetation too changed with the ascent. Large and tall trees were soon a recurring feature. Stepping out for a moment the cool misty breeze engulfed us as we absorbed the beauty in front of us. Rolling lush tea fields reflected the richness of Sabaragamuwa's soil. As we continued on, the views of a massive reservoir could be seen.


This was the Samanalawewa, which is fed by the Belihul Oya river.


School children scaled the slopes carpeted with tea with great ease, smiling and waving as we passed by. As the roads narrowed further, we were almost at the edge, at times only one vehicle could travel on the road at a time. The number at each bend indicated how many we had navigated thus far.


Bird life was prevalent and we were able to see a majestic serpent eagle, spotted dove and the little birds that hover around tea bushes to name just a few. Toque Macaques, seemingly furrier than their low country counterparts, jumped from tree to tree. Goats too stood out against the green backdrop, their bleating heard loud and clear.


We reached Baker's Bend, which is the largest bend on this route. We were at 5,000 feet and the view from this point was breathtaking, a 360-degree depiction of resplendent landscape. Through the greenery, we could see movement of workers carrying fire wood down the hill. We proceeded farther to arrive at a small round-about of sorts, we were in the Nagarak division. From there on the cool and sunny climes, became misty, wet and cold.


Having passed more than 30 bends we had reached our destination in Nagarak. We were surrounded by natural beauty and were actually along the border of Sabaragamuwa and the Central Province. The wildlife sanctuary of Horton Plains was just a short walk away, however entering the sanctuary from this side is not allowed. The bungalow faces beautiful views of the hills of Sabaragamuwa while, the forests of Horton Plains borders from the back. We had reached 6,000ft and the temperature was below 18 degrees.

We reached Baker’s Bend, which is the largest bend on this route. We were at 5,000 feet and the view from this point was breathtaking, a 360-degree depiction of resplendent landscape.


A walk in the evening down the hill is definitely a relaxing experience as there is hardly anyone around but only the rolling tea estate, forest, mist and the splashing rain that makes you rush back for cover. Colourful flowers add splashes of vibrant hues to the green surroundings.


As evening turned to night and the rain subsided outside, it was only us and the darkness of the hills. The temperature dropped further and we clung to our blankets while the fire place in the bungalow roared to life with crackling warmth. It is said that animals such as sambar deer, wild boar as well as very rarely the elusive leopard venture to this area at night, however our attempts were not fruitful.


The next morning as we began our descent, we stopped to explore a section of the estate, where tea pickers were working almost in synchrony. They were accompanied by a couple of canine companions who seemed to be used to visitors. The pruned tea bushes were like a carpet and stretched for acres. A massive cliff rose on one side and we were told that this was in the direction of the Bogawantalawa area.


We headed back on to the main path, and continued our descent along the winding narrow road and as we reached Belihuloya, we were again basking in the heat of the sun.

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    A mystical view of Samanalawewa

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    Travelling along the steep cliff's edge

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    A beautifully cascading waterfall

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    Wild flowers bloom in the crisp cool clime

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    Tea pluckers in action in the emerald tea estates

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    A serpent eagle on the watch

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    Spotted dove on alert!

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    Baker's bend offers stunning views of the surrounding

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    A bundle of wood to light the hearth at home

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