TCT Sri Lanka Travel Diaries: Nine Arches Bridge, Ella

Our girl on the ground bringing us all things Sri Lanka, straight from the elephant's mouth, is travel blogger and all-round island girl Demi Perera. Demi is the creator and editor of her own popular e-zine Girl Travels World. In her spare time she loves to recline on her hammock under a coconut tree. What we have here is a match made in heaven... 👏👏👏

The name P. K. Appuhamy may not jog the slightest hint of recognition in anyone's memory. Yet in 1921, he built, arguably, the most photographed bridge in Sri Lanka today. Appuhamy was a highly skilled local stone mason. He worked under the direction of leading designer and project manager, D. J. Wimalasurendra, a distinguished Sri Lankan engineer and inventor.

Above: Nine Arches Bridge (as seen in our new    Cocotails menu   )

Above: Nine Arches Bridge (as seen in our new Cocotails menu)

Nine Arches Bridge, which is in fact a viaduct, is locally referred to as ahas namaye palama in Sinhalese. This translates to nine skies bridge. Stand under it and look up and you will see how it got its name; you can see the sky through all nine arches. 

The bridge sits in the small village of Ella in the middle of Sri Lanka's tea country. The town is scattered with a great many local eateries and is a good place to taste Sri Lankan home-cooking. For a taste of Ella home-cooking on our menu try the parippu (dhal), bonchi baduma (fried green beans) and dirty jack (jack fruit in lemongrass) with rice. It's one of the most typical meals found in a Sri Lankan home in the hills.

Image (& main image):      @Sahan_Perera

Image (& main image): @Sahan_Perera

So what's so special about Nine Arches Bridge? It's built with just bricks, stones and cement; there are no metal girders in the structure. The popular theory is that when construction of the bridge started WW1 also began in Europe. As Sri Lanka was a colony of the British Empire, at the time, steel assigned for the bridge was re-allocated to war-related projects elsewhere. As such, Appuhamy and his team of masons set about building the bridge without steel. Upon completion many questioned the integrity of the structure. Appuhamy was so certain of its safety that he promised to lie down under the it when the first train crossed. He is said to have kept his promise. Do you dare?