29 May 2009

Railway Tracks and Tunnels


I was an ardent traveler of train and the Colombo - Badulla train was my favorite! The train takes about 10 hours to reach Badulla, which a car would take may be half of that time. Still the railway track goes through the most beautiful sceneries of entire Sri Lanka and I consider that extra time as a bonus.

I loved to see those lonely little stations in the hill country like Demodara and stay a couple of hours in those places exploring how the station master handles the entire operation. One of the most intriguing activities was how he controls railway traffic using the ‘tablet’.

I used to walk along the railway tracks and that was really fun. Sometimes without my knowledge I have walked up to the next station, perhaps passing at least 2-3 miles.

One of the best part of hill country railway is the tunnels. Upto Badulla there are more than 40 tunnels and the longest is the ‘Singimale’ tunnel which is about 1km long. The first tunnel you meet when you travel from Colombo is the one near Ambepussa (between Wilwatta and Bothale stations). Then up to Kandy you would come across another 10 tunnels. The stretch between Ohiya to Idalgashinna alone, the train passes through 14 tunnels! That is the maximum for a stretch between two stations.

Those days Ohiya to Horton hike route was signposted with a tunnel too. First you have to walk towards Pattipola from Ohiya station along the railway track and you have to start climbing to your left from the first tunnel you meet. Unfortunately as per what I have heard, that hiking route is now closed.

This picture of tunnel was taken recently at Kadugannawa. If you want to see ‘Udarata Menike’ train moving into the tunnel, just click here!

21 comments:

rainfield61 said...

I have thought but never started. To picture a railway is in my planning. But I cannot get the tunnel you have shown in my place.

Harumi said...

Great post KGP, very informative too. This reminded me about that interesting TV program - 'Udarata Menike', where they featured most railway stations along with tunnels.

And I really like tunnels too.. esp. the longer ones, as it reminds me of the good old days when kids used to scream from the start to the end of the the tunnel when it gets pitch-black.. and not just 1 or 2 kids but every kid in the whole train..! lol

Jack Point said...

This supposed to be a very famous ride. What is the beat season to attempt it?

Chavie said...

Lovely post K! :) Had a look at your new photos too... :) I have never been to Badulla on a train, but it's an experience that you've made me want to live... :D

Kirigalpoththa said...

Rainfiled61,
Yes. tunnels are indegenous to hill country only. I also wanted to get a picture of a train over a few bridges in Sri Lanka too. Hope you will succeed in posting one on railways soon :)

Harumi,
I have not seen that prgm. I would love to be a part of such program just to cover the entire route one by one.
The screaming still continues in trains while going thro tunnels. The screaming party usually consist of 20-30 year old 'Kids' too ;)

Jack Point,
Yes it is a great experience. You should book the observation suite! And make sure to book one of the morning trains. There is 'Podi Menike' at 0555 and "Udarata Menike' at 0945 You may need to reserve it atleast 2 weeks before.

There is a nice web site for Sri Lanka Railway.
Check it out here.

This month is bit rainy. Think the best time is July - August. Also Nov - Jan also good although it is bit chilly there.

Chavie,
You should make it a point to do a trip to Badulla by train as soon as you finish your ALs. That is something you shouldnt miss:) As i mentioned for 'Jack Point' pick a morning train. Travelling by nightmail train is another experience but you won't see a thing till you get upto Pattipola as it is reaching there very early in the morning.

Managed to post a few more photos to Picasa during last few days and Im happy it is growing. Glad you saw them. After all it is your suggestion :)

Jack Point said...

Thanks a lot for the info.

On the railways, I found a site that is quite user friendly

see this

http://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm

magiceye said...

must be fun!

Rajesh said...

the tunnel in the mountain looks cool. It will be fun going through it in the dark.

roentarre said...

This tunnel looks so refreshingly green in deed. Wonderful capture in deed!

Kirigalpoththa said...

Jack Point,
Thanks for the link! It has lots of info!

Magiceye,
It is lots of fun. If you have a team of friends a train journey would be wondeful!!

Rajesh,
Yep, Quite a lot of tunnel entrances are cool like this one! The few seconds in the dark and you hear people screaming! Just to make fun out of it :)

Roentarre,
This one has quite a lot of greenery around. Always you get a rather imposing mountain or rock as the backdrop

Thanks all for comments!

Femin Susan said...

Nice shot of the tunnel it look really stunning and adventurous. Great capture.

Cheers!

Harumi said...

No kidding! you mean even nowadays big kids (20+ ones) scream through tunnels? lol Well.. I guess it's a good sign that somethings don't ever change with time.. =D

Thanks for the links and will drop in to check your album too for the updates.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Femin Susan,
Walking along raiway tracks is very adventurous! Especially when you meet a tunnel it is even better. Usually we do not go through the tunnel as it is dangerous. Instead we go around and meet the track again on the other side. Thanks.

Harumi,
Yep that has not changed yet :)
You are most welcome Harumi!

niroshinie said...

Lovely pic! I went upto Bandarawela last Apri - that was some ride..! Later visited Demodara station and wished that I could've gone there by train too :(
@Harumi: haha yep. Even 40+ aunties screamed!

Also isnt it funny how even after like 10 hrs of traveling you don't feel a bit tired in this ride?

George said...

This looks like a wonderful train ride. All of those tunnels would be very interesting.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Niroshinie,
If you have covered upto Bandarawela that is some ride! I agree that it never a tiresome journey..
From Bandarawela to Demodara only two stations. But that part also awesome. Hope you saw the famous loop at Demodara. The train first comes to the station. Then it goes around the mountain and goes below the station again after about 10-15 minutes.

George,
All the tunnels are interesting although they vary in length! Its purely a 10 hours of sight seeing :)

Tks all for comments!

Glennis said...

Train journeys are lots fun.
We have lots of tunnels in our railway system and I like going through them in the dark then bursting out again into the light.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Glennis,

Yep. coming back to 'light' from the tunnel is always interesting..

Thank a lot for your comments :)

cocco said...

Yes, like Harumi the first thing I thought of regarding the tunnels was the kids screaming. So cute! Great post.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Anastasia,
Thanks..Glad you like this post. Thought you will like this as you have experienced the same and posted similar posts on the same upcountry railway journey..The screaming part is very much a part of this journey :)

Chavie said...

Comment made on 2009-05-29T11:16:34.388+05:30

Lovely post K! :) Had a look at your new photos too... :) I have never been to Badulla on a train, but it's an experience that you've made me want to live... :D