Though a small island, Sri Lanka boasts an impressive list of more than 50 waterfalls over 33ft in height, most cascading from rocky mountain tops of the hill country. They come in all sizes, shapes and heights. Some drop directly from rocky tops, some create mists as they fall and some wind around rocks before falling into deep pools. While you can enjoy the cooling waters of some waterfalls, always listen to the locals as they will know whether it is safe and read the signs near these waterfalls before stepping into a pool of water.
If height does matter, then the Bambarakanda Falls takes pride of place in the ‘must see’ list of Sri Lanka’s waterfalls, if only for the purposes of record. Falling from a height of 795ft, it is located in Kahawatte off the main Colombo-Bandarawela road and is barely an hour’s drive from Bandarawela. No river hurtles down the rocky precipice but instead a tiny stream appears at the top and then, quarter way down the rock, breaks into two and falls without much fanfare.
Six kilometres from Koslanda in the Badulla District, the Diyaluma is the second highest waterfall in the country. Diyaluma Falls, which means a ‘rapid flow of water’ in Sinhalese, falls from a height of 772ft in a straight line across a broad rocky face and then cascades down a flight of rocky stairs to its pool in the valley below.
Ten kilometres from Bandarawela, on the Ella-Wellawaya road, is a waterfall that combines both size and beauty as it falls from a height of 75ft. Named after Sri Lanka’s legendary King Ravana, the anti-hero of India’s Ramayana, the Ravana Fall cascades over an oval shaped rocky outcrop before falling into a pool six feet deep. During the rainy season, the water fall takes the shape of an areca flower with withering petals. This beautiful fall, one of the most popular waterfalls in the Island, is by the side of the road, providing an easy access.
Located just two kilometres from the Nuwara Eliya town, a small brook originating from Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain Piduruthalagala, soon becomes a massive stream which falls from a height of 90ft. According to folklore, a prince in distress was saved by a beautiful damsel in the jungle but the love thus born was not to be for royal opposition to the affair doomed their love on the rocks. Since then the fall has been called Lover’s Leap Falls.