Colombo to Nuwara Eliya by train

A classic Sri Lankan train ride…

The train experience from Colombo up into the tea plantations of primary Sri Lanka isn’t always simply about the transportation, it can be the amazing highlight of your visit. you can journey on one in every of two daily contemporary ‘blue trains’ or as shown right here on a traditional Sri Lankan train with a primary class observation vehicle connected to the rear. As you can see from the pictures, this offers a first-rate rearward view along the tracks, so that you can see how this top-notch railway was built, hugging the hillside under overhanging rocks. Nanuoya is the railhead for Nuwara Eliya, a colonial-era hill station where the British might take time off away from the warmth and humidity of the coast, surrounded via greater Ceylon tea plantations that you may shake a stick at…

Colombo to Nuwara Eliya in photos…

Colombo Fort railway station, exterior
Colombo Fort station opened in 1917 in the bustling heart of the old colonial Fort area.  See map.
Tuk tuk to the stationArriving at Colombo Fort station
Arriving at the station by tuk-tuk from the Galle Face Hotel, the best way to get around cities in Sri Lanka.
Inside at Colombo Fort station
Bustling Colombo Fort, like a British station in the 1950s with the heat & humidity, turned up…
Oobservation car at Colombo Fort1st class observation car at Colombo Fort
Boarding the train…  The locomotive draws the train into platform 3, then detaches to run around and attach to the front.  The lucky passengers with first class reservations for the 09:45 express to Hatton, Nanuoya, Elle & Badulla board the observation car at the rear.
View leaving Colombo Fort from observation car
The train sets off, leaving Colombo Fort station behind (seen above).  Shortly afterwards it trundles non-stop through Colombo’s other main station, Maradana, some 2 km to the east.
Inside the 1st class observation carBuddhist temple seen from train
The observation car is not air-conditioned, but a breeze wafts in through the open side windows…Passing a local temple, soon after leaving Colombo Fort.  There are always things to see from a Sri Lankan train…
Rambukkana stationWayside station
The train clatters along at 30-50mph, stopping at wayside stations with neatly-kept flower beds.  Above left, Rambukkana.
View back down the track
The observation car gives a superb view back along the track so you can see how this wonderful railway is constructed.  After Rambukkana, where the Colombo Commuter service ends, the line is mostly single-track.  Sri Lankan railways are built to a broad gauge, 5′ 6″, wider than European standard gauge…
View back down the trackView back down the track to tunnel
The line climbs towards Kandy with tunnels & cuttings gouged from the hillside.  In places, the jungle is reclaiming the tracks..
Mountain seen from the train
Mountains from the train…
Dawson Tower approaching KadugannawaKadugannawa station
Kadugannawa…  As the train rolls into Kadugannawa, look for the Dawson Tower on the right (or left as you look rearwards), erected in 1832 in tribute to Royal Engineer Captain W F Dawson who built much of the adjacent Colombo-Kandy road.
Kadugannawa railway museum1953 M1 locomotive at Kadugannawa
At Kadugannawa station on the right (left as you face rearwards) you’ll see various exhibits outside Sri Lanka’s National Railway Museum, including this 1953 British-built type M1 (above right).
Scenery from the train
Signals at Peradeniya JunctionOobservation car at Peradeniya Junction
Peradeniya Junction, near to Kandy… is Sri Lanka’s 2nd biggest city, located on a four-mile branch line from Peradeniya Junction at the Colombo-Badulla principal line. The Chinesebuilt blue trains flip left at Peradeniya, go into Kandy terminus, trade course, retrace their steps to Peradeniya and flip left again in the direction of Badulla – they have a using cab at each quit so it’s easy for them. Our conventional train has a locomotive on the front and it via-passes Kandy, selecting up passengers from Kandy at Peradeniya Junction. The station has platforms on all three aspects of the triangular junction, however strangely, the train rolls slowly through the apparently-disused platform on the aspect of the triangle that by means of-passes Kandy, halts briefly on the sign pictured above left, then its units again into the Kandy-to-Hill-united states platform.
View of bridge back down the trackScenery
SceneryTrain 1007 at Galboda
Galaboda…  At the wayside station of Galaboda, the train waits for the Colombo-bound Podi Menike blue train to pass.
Scenery from train 1007
After Galboda, the climb into the hills continues…
Another view back down the track
Train 1007 at HattonObservation car at Hatton
Hatton, the station for Adam’s Peak…  The train pauses here just long enough for a photo or two.
Tea plantations between Hatton and Nanuoya
Tea country!  The train now snakes its way past hills where almost every slope is covered with tea bushes.
WaterfallBack down the track
Train 1007 in tea country
The weather is changeable, but the light is now fantastic…
The railway hugs the hillsideTrain 1007 at Great Western
The line is cut into the hillside…A stop at the very British-sounding Great Western station.
Great light over the hills
A rain shower hits the train as it rattles along above a broad valley…
Exporail car at NanuoyaOobservation car at Nanuoya
Nanuoya…  The train arrives at Nanuoya around 40 minutes late.  Above left, passengers alight from the privately-run air-conditioned Exporail car.  The train continues to Haputale, Elle & Badulla.
Nanuoya stationNanuoya station
Nanuoya is the railhead for Nuwara Eliya, some 7 km away – there are always taxi vans waiting.
Rest rooms are not toilets!Tablet instruments at NanuoyaSignal at Nanuoya station
Restrooms. You didn’t think these were toilets, did you? Toilets are located nearby.The ancient British-built tablet instruments, in the station master’s office at Nanuoya.  These ensure the trains run safely on the single line.Semaphore signal and station name board in the sun at Nanuoya…

Nuwara Eliya…

The hill station of Nuwara Eliya is a strange mix of colonial-era bungalows, modern hotels and guesthouses, a pleasure lake, parks, and even a racecourse…
Gregory Lake at Nuwara EliyaNuwara Eliya Post Office
Nuwara Eliya’s Gregory Lake…Nuwara Eliya’s colonial-era post office…
Grand Hotel at Nuwara EliyaGrand Hotel lounge
The best place to stay:  Nuwara’s Eliya’s historic Grand Hotel built in the style of a Tudor mansion, check prices here

Time for tea…

You can visit a number of tea plantations & factories around Nuwara Eliya, including the Pedro Estate, well worth a visit…
Tea pickers on the Pedro EstatePedro Estate tea factory
Tea pickers on the Pedro Estate at Nuwara Eiya…The Pedro Estate tea factory…
Why Tea Is Good For YouDrying the tea leaves
In case you need reminding…Drying the tea leaves…



Rail travel has a long and important place in Sri Lankan history. originally referred to as the Ceylon Government Railways, the first piece of music became placed down by means of the British Governor Sir Henry Ward in 1858 and was visible an essential development inside the gradual modernization of Ceylon.

Railway logo of Sri Lanka The tracks were open for enterprise round Christmas of 1864, an exceptional fulfillment both in phrases of velocity in the pre-industrial generation of the island and of engineering ingenuity and excellence, as will become clear in your trip. the first journey turned into from Colombo to Ambepussa a small metropolis at the way to Kandy, 54 km east of the capital.

The scope of the rail line became step by step elevated during British colonial days and by way of 1927, there have been 1530 km of track in operation. the line become extended to the Hill Capital of Kandy by means of 1867 and in 1926 work turned into finished on the road to Nelson’s favored port of Trincomalee in the extreme east of Sri Lanka, that means all points of the compass have been now protected. The railway changed into to start with constructed with purely-commercial interests in thoughts. First to move espresso from the Hill Country to the coastal port of Colombo, then while the coffee crop became wiped out with the aid of disorder, the embryonic plants of tea that Sri Lanka is now famed for were transported to the coast for exportation.

as the armies of the Portuguese and Dutch might testify to gaining access to the rolling hills, waterfalls and limitless plateaus of the Hill us of a isn’t always easy. for that reason the rail strains steadily became a connector for human beings, offering the intrepid tea planters ‘the wild guys of the hills’ the hazard for a piece of refinement in Colombo.

Nuwara Eliya south-east of Kandy became a traveler vacation spot before the phrase became coined, because of the expansion of the rail line. the adventure from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya remains one of the global’s maximum stunning rail trips. by using the 1960’s the Sri Lankan rail device turned into being used more by way of commuters than with the aid of freight traffic.

Good 4-star hotels in Nuwara Eliya:

I find these hotels in Nuwara Eliya rather good, at about 100$ per night.

Hotel Glendower 4*
Ferncliff Bungalow 4*
Hill Cottage Nuwara Eliya 4*
Grand Hotel 4*
Araliya Green Hills Hotel 4.5*

Good 3-star Hotels in Nuwara Eliya:

These go for less than 50 US$, I wouldn’t venture to the 2* hotels. These are decent for the price.

The Trevene
Eeescart Nuwara Eliya Resort
Thuruliya Lodge
Oak Ray Tea Bush Ramboda
Ashley Resort

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