Over the rocky maze, they cascade in grace…

Water slips over a cliff and splashes into a pool…
A continuum of sounds…. A cascading waterfall…
Festooned with green mosses, the rocks stand in row shaping the course of this vibrant entity…

Sri Lanka has a total of 380 waterfalls. Of these, there are four waterfalls in Colombo district. They are Dambodara Ella, Thummodara Ranmudu Ella, Ella Eda Ella and Kumari Ella, hailing from the suburbs of Hanwella and Homagama. Literally, they may be a few bus stops away from your doorstop. If you could spare the time, they are worth a visit.

By Nimashi Amaleeta
One fine evening about two years back, I remember my friends and I headed for a bath at the foot of a waterfall in Sinharaja. We had just concluded a field practical in the forest, and now quite tired and worn out, a refreshing bath was the only thing we yearned for.

We trekked the forest, trekked for so long, in search of the much anticipated waterfall. The forest was never quiet. It was full of sounds. Sometimes it was the wind whispering to the leaves. Sometimes it was the monkeys mocking at us from tall treetops. Sometimes, a wild animal or two dashed past us or hissed from a concealed corner. My ears strained to hear the sounds. It was a continuum of sounds. One sound ceased leading to another, another and another…

We climbed down a slope clinging to roots and branches of trees at our disposal. A few more bends and turns downs the slope, and then suddenly the air started playing a ‘different tune’. It got filled with the rhythm of running water. The further we went the closer it got.

All of a sudden, the water sounded as if it were plunging and splashing…Yes, it was a beautiful waterfall… The moment of its discovery was quite magical. We broke free from a tangled net of lush greenery and entered a rooky plain. Ahead of us, a graceful white cascade plunged over huge rocky boulders. The water spilled over the cliff and splashed into a pool. The pool overflowed into a gushing stream. The stream was as vibrant as its source. The cascade sprayed fizzy foam, imparting coolness to the evening breeze.
We took our dip in a safe shallow pool and rebound home with many cherished memories of that beautiful evening.

Waterfalls in Sri Lanka

A waterfall occurs when a stream, river or creek drops down vertically or flows over the edge of a cliff. It is often said that a drop of at least 3 metres (approximately 10 feet) or a slope of at least 30 degrees is required to create a fall.
Sri Lanka, although small in size, nurtures a brood of over 380 waterfalls in all. Most of these are located in hill country. Waterfalls usually flow over erosion-resistant rocks. For, if not, the rock would erode away giving way to friction thus causing the waterfall to lose its character. Most of Sri Lanka’s waterfalls flow over hard rock that is considerably erosion resistant.

Sufficient rainfall is indispensable to nurture a fall. The majority of Sri Lanka’s waterfalls are confined to the wet zones of the island.
Waterfalls, accompanied with all its elegance and wonder, serve as potential candidates in tourism. Their conservation and sustainable use is important in many a categories of tourism, particularly that of ecotourism.

Lanka Council on waterfalls

The Lanka Waterfall Council is a non-profit organisation which has come to the fore to create public awareness and understanding on waterfalls with a particular view on their conservation. Commencing in 2000, this NGO has dedicated itself to promote the cause through public education, liaising nationally as well as internationally. The Council has 374 life members and 7800 ordinary members. They hail from all walks of life, including high profile academia, executives, conservationists, environmentalists, enthusiasts, journalists, school children and the general public. The educational tours organised by the Council are very popular among the general public and school children.

The Council organises community based workshops, exhibitions and seminars and tours and also conducts research. The Council also maintains a comprehensive data base on Sri Lankan waterfalls, through data collection and study of waterfalls. So far, the council has identified a total of over 382 waterfalls. The height of 5 out of these 382 was declared by the Survey Department, whereas the height of the rest has been declared by the Council. Presently, their database on waterfalls remains the most updated.
The Council has also published many a books on waterfalls. The Guide to Waterfall Study in Sri Lanka is a very informative booklet, including facts about waterfalls, how to organise tours, lists of equipment required for such an expedition, and safety precautions during a typical tour. Further, a detailed book and several booklets on 25 popular waterfalls have also been made available by the Council. Most of these are in the medium of Sinhala, but English books are due in the very near future.

The Council also conducts an eight month Diploma Course to train and educate the public on waterfalls, which apparently have gathered much popularity. It caters to many categories including executives, doctors, various officials, teachers, university students, enthusiasts and school children. So far seven batches have reached completion of their courses.

The Council looks forward to establishing youth clubs in a bid to encourage active youth participation in conserving waterfalls. The first 25 out of these will be established centering upon the 25 most popular waterfalls, and will be later extended to other waterfalls as well. Working closely with the local governments, the Council envisages preparing guidelines for awareness programmes, and drafting proposals for using waterfalls in nature based tourism.

The Council is also in the process of preparing a ‘Red List of Sri Lanka Waterfalls’ to identify threatened waterfalls in Sri Lanka. This programme will be launched in September 2008.

The Lanka Waterfall Council can be reached at PO BOX 26, 434/3, Sri Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka., or at +94 11 5648151 / +94 71 2733986. They are also available at waterfalls@sltnet.lk and afejchairman@yahoo.com


Favourite picks

The Bambarakanda Falls stands the tallest in the island, at 241 m. This fall is located in the Badulla District.

Diyaluma Ella

Diyaluma Ella is famed for its beauty throughout the country. Standing tall at 171 m, it reigns as the third tallest fall in the island. Diyaluma Ella cascades over the Koslanda Plateau of the Badulla District.

Dumbara Ella

This beautiful cascade is located in the Kalupahana area of the Matale District. It’s about 20 m in height. This fall is also known for its importance in the field of scientific research, for it harbours a high diversity of fish.

Lovers’ Leap Fall

This beautiful 30m fall, located in Hava Eliya, cascades over Piduruthalagala. The fall spills over a hard granite ledge.

Dunhinda Ella

Dunhinda is one of the most mesmerizing falls in Sri Lanka. Its cascade resembles a thin cloud as it cascades 63m downwards into a large pool. The backdrop of the fall is known as ‘Dunhinda Adaviya’. ‘Dunhinda’ in Sinhala means ‘spraying vapour’ - the word ‘dun’ means ‘gave or was given’, while ‘hinda’ means ‘evaporate’.
It’s in close proximity to the Badullu town.

St. Clair’s Falls

St. Clair’s Falls is dubbed as Sri Lanka’s Niagara, or the ‘king of waterfalls’ due to its outstanding beauty. It is 80 m in height and consists of two segments, known as ‘Big St. Clair’ and ‘Small St. Clair’. It is nurtured by the Kotmale River and therefore is at the risk of being affected by the Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project.
This fall too is in close proximity to the Badulla town.

Bopath Ella

Cascading in the shape of a bo leaf, this fall receives its name Bopath Ella. This fall happens to be the most comprehensively studied fall in Sri Lanka. It’s nurtured by the Kuruganga later joins the river in Kuruganmodara.

Falls in Sinharaja

Sinharaja nurtures 19 waterfalls in all. The most popular among them are the Pathanoya Falls, Brahmana Falls, Malmora Falls, Pittakale Doovilli Falls, Neluwa Doovilli Falls, Lankagama Kekuna Falls and Illukumbakanda Doovilli Falls.


An ode to waterfalls

Droplets of water
slipped off the cliff
mingling with the air
in a delightful bid
they danced with the wind
and glistened in the sun
uniting with one another
in a graceful cascade

Down down they rode
as carefree as could be…
they felt the tug
of an unforeseen force
that pulled them to a pool…

Life thence,
has been nothing,
but currents and flows…

Sometime back,
a little kid
left the care of her parents
to enter a school
and down down the time scale
she rode
as carefree as could be…
she felt the tug
of an foreseen force
that pulled her to a world
heading a rat race

Life ever since
has been nothing
but dizzy currents
and turbid flows…










- web designed by Mithila Kumara