Its not everyday you wake up early in the morning and rush to catch the Podi Menike. But when you do, you can be sure of one thing, mountains. Miles and miles of mountains. The lush green mountains are some of the best views the hill country can offer. What am I talking about? I’m referring to none other than the famous Podi Menike train and it’s amazing scenery. It was quite a stressful week for me and what better time to take a little trip to the mountains? So I hopped on to the train one fine Tuesday morning, and off we went.
The Journey To Kandy
If you’re a regular commuter, then you would know what its like to catch a train on a busy weekday morning. Plus, if you’re planning to be on it for the next 8 hours ideally you would want to catch a seat as well. Lucky for me, I was able to find one just fine. As the clock hit 5.55 AM, the guard whistled to the other corner of the train and the Podi Menike set off (yes, sometimes trains do work on time).
It takes about roughly 3 hours to get to Kandy from Colombo Fort. Through out these 3 hours, you’re treated to quite a sight. One moment you’re passing through beautiful paddy fields and next thing you know, you’re approaching up hill through tunnels and bridges, into the hill country. As far as train customs go, you’re bound to hear loud hoots each time the train pass through a tunnel. Can be a bit annoying sometimes.
Podi Menike: A Glimpse Of Heaven
As you head deeper into the mountain side, the Kandy – Badulla stretch greets you with more and more stunning views. If you thought the 3 hour ride to Kandy was a treat wait till you see the rest. Among the many panoramic views that awaits you, the scenaries from places such as Nanu Oya and Idalgashenna are particularly memorable.
But its not just the views that make the Podi Menike journey exciting. Here are a few must-not-miss experiences if you ever decide to hop on the train to take a trip to the mountains.
- Strawberries from Nanu Oya – When you’re at the Nanu Oya station, be on the lookout for one or two blokes selling packs of strawberries. They usually sell for around Rs.250 per pack and they’re quite good too.
- Dairy products from Ambewela – Passing through the Ambewela station, chances are you’ll find a guy on board the train selling various dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Fresh as they come!
- Idalgashenna station – Once you arrive, just take a peep out the window. On a good day you’ll see that on one side, a lush green scenery and on the other side, a misty forest.
- Nine Arch Bridge – If you plan on making past Ella and Demodara, make sure you don’t miss this. The iconic bridge is believed to have been constructed back in 1921. If you look closely, you might even find a few people with a DSLR camera trying to take a close up shot of the bridge.
- The cold-not so cold climate – What’s a trip to the central hills without enjoying the climate. Soon as you pass Kandy, you’ll begin to feel the difference. It gets cold, but not as cold as you freezing yourself to death kind of situation. If you’re used to the Colombo city life like I am, then you’re sure to find this refreshing.
The Best Is Yet To Come!
My stop was at Haputale, a few stations away from Ella and Demodara. Took me a little over 8 hours to get there. For those of you thinking, yes, 8 hours is indeed a long time to be on a train. But its certainly not without it’s comforts.
Through out the journey, you’ll witness the true beauty of the island. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you’re guaranteed to be awed at the sight. Speaking of tourists, expect a lot of them on the Podi Menike. I personally found it to be quite an enjoyable experience. I managed to meet so many people from so many different countries. But the constant flashing of selfies was a tad bit annoying though.
2.30 PM was the time. My excitement still remained even as I got down at Haputale. The simple reason being that I was planning to catch the supposedly breath taking sunrise view on top of Lipton’s Seat. But that’s a story for another time.