Over the rocky maze, they
cascade in grace…
Water slips over a cliff and splashes into a
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.
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
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
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
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 email@example.com and
The Bambarakanda Falls stands the tallest in the island, at 241
m. This fall is located in the Badulla District.
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.
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 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
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.
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…
has been nothing,
but currents and flows…
a little kid
left the care of her parents
to enter a school
and down down the time scale
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…