Visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella, Sri Lanka
In the misty hills of Sri Lanka, you will find Ella, a little town which was made famous by a beautiful bridge constructed in the early 1920s. Visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is a must do when in Sri Lankan hill country.
Whether you arrived in Ella on the famous blue train, or whether it's your starting point for the adventure, we recommend spending two or three nights exploring the town and the surroundings, especially the unique Nine Arch Bridge.
Built around tourism, the town is made of one bustling road with restaurants and shops surrounded by a lush forest.
Where to stay in Ella
We had one of the best homestay experiences while in Ella. The small homestay Guest Inn Avendra, with only one guest room, it's perched on top of the hills gifting you with some incredible views. The lovely family who runs it made us feel at home immediately and took good care of us. Arranging transport with their tuk tuk to the town and points of interest. Together with the views of the valley below and the train passing by, the thing we will never forget was the incredible meals we had. Our host prepared the tastiest vegetarian curry, including a mango curry which is likely unbeatable. Make sure to eat in one of the nights (or both!).
Or if you prefer to stay closer to the Nine Arch Bridge we recommend Ella Rohamton.
The Nine Arch Bridge: past and present
Ella’s main attraction is the Nine Arch Bridge, one of the best-preserved examples of colonial-era railway construction in the country. The bridge is situated in between a lush forest and patches of tea plantations, creating a beautiful contrast between the structure and the vegetation. As the name suggests, the bridge features nine very tall arches and is constructed in stone, bricks and cement.
The Nine Arch Bridge has become a popular attraction for both tourists and locals who flock to see this peculiar structure, waiting for the train to pass by. The train rides several times during the day and if you are patient enough you will be able to see it come past, a blue arrow in between the green. You can find the timetable here, to be noted though is that the train is often late, so you might have to wait for longer than expected.
While exploring the surroundings, we noticed a strange formation just underneath the central arches of the bridge. We later found out that there are several, gigantic, beehives constructed underneath the arches. Home to a pretty large swarm of bees that prefer not to be disturbed!
Another interesting discovery we (unfortunately) made on our feet was that the area is filled with leeches. Due to the lush vegetation and the heavy rains, they come out and they can be found even on the train tracks. Our best advice is to wear closed shoes!