Santani Journal

Exploring Kandy – Towards Riverston and Beyond

The mountainous region of Kandy is one of the most famous and beloved spots in Sri Lanka. Steeped in history and home to some of the most beautiful vistas in the country, the region also acts as a base point for adventurous excursions that go deeper into surrounding areas.

For recurring travellers who have seen the famed spots or for those who want to walk off the beaten path, Riverston boasts a number of things to do in Kandy, as well as sights to see that aren’t on typical tourist itineraries. Exploring Kandy and its surroundings in this manner is an experience that brings both the mind and body into harmony, as hikes lead you to breath-taking views that in turn inspire quiet contemplation. In this way, the trail through Riverston in particular embraces holistic philosophies, encouraging a stay at an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka to truly complete the experience.

Perhaps the most picturesque of Riverston’s offerings is the hike leading to Mini World’s End, so called for its resemblance to the famed World’s End in Horton Plains but requiring considerably less effort and attracting far less crowds. Because it isn’t as well-known as other hikes, the hike is mostly free from the usual trappings of tourist attractions, highlighting the natural and unspoilt aspect of nature. The walk is vigorous but relaxing, offering pristine views of grasslands leading to a spectacular view. The hike is through Pitawala Pathana, a stretch of grasslands that holds endemic life and makes for a pleasant, though robust, stroll. The trail leads one right to the steep edge that features a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, as Mini World’s End looks over the Knuckles Range and the nearby rolling green hills. The hike doesn’t take too long, and there are plenty of other sights to see nearby so that you can devote any time from a couple of hours to a full day to the hike. It’s worthwhile stopping to check out Bambara Kiri Ella nearby. The falls are a relatively small waterfall that is easily accessible. Water flowing in from a nearby river falls from a higher level into a small pool, creating a little pond perfect for bathing in. The water then falls further into a larger pool that in turn laps against an escarpment. An old fashioned wooden suspension bridge lies across the pool’s edge, just over the steep rock fall, making for a delightful way to view the entire scene. In addition to the scenic beauty, a variety of butterflies and birds make their way to the site, resulting in a delightful flurry of activity especially during the morning. The spot is not well known, a hidden gem among the locals, making it a peaceful and calm spot. While it’s possible to dip into the pool, the steepness of the escarpment makes it dangerous so care and discretion are advised!

Another charming gem to discover and explore is Sera Ella, a striking waterfall that at its peak capacity looks straight out of a fairy tale. When water levels are low, the falls are split into two narrow sheets that cascade down the flat rock, but when water levels are high the whole rock becomes a curtain of white foam, making the entire scene look ethereal. This happens mostly in the monsoon season, towards the turn of the year. The water in the falls flows down the rock into a deep, dark pool at the base that completes the magical picture, especially when paired with the knotty trees that surround the area. The pool itself should be traversed with care, as its depth means that it cannot be easily waded through. However there are a host of rocks that can be perched on for a dip in the pool. The highlight of Sera Ella is the small cave located on the right of the rock, accessible by steps carved out on the side. While the cave is cool and dry, the steps may be slippery because of moss and sprays of water so care is needed when climbing them. The falls are also a veritable habitat for all sorts of little wildlife, and it invites a closeness with nature as you listen to the soothing sounds of the waterfall intertwining with the flapping of wings. Nearby is the Kalu Ganga Reservoir Dam which opened recently and benefits the agricultural community around it greatly. The water stretches out far, a calm and serene view to feast your eyes on.

Riverston is thus a wonderful collection of experiences that make for an engaging, rejuvenating trek around the countryside, featuring hidden waterfalls, healthy hikes and as always, spectacular views that bring us closer to nature in more ways than one.

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