We have already taken you on a magical journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway, followed by a trip on the breathtaking Orient Express! Today, we are continuing our adventure with another legendary locomotive, the Podi Menike, which weaves its way through the tea plantations of Sri Lanka.
Where are you?
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon until 1972, is an island country located in the Indian Ocean some 20 miles south of India. Its economic capital, Colombo, is found on the coast, while its cultural hub, Kandy, is nestled in an enchanting mountainous region. This is where visitors can climb aboard this unique train which connects Kandy to the town of Ella. It also stops at other places such as Nuwara Eliya, a city surrounded by the country’s main tea plantations stretching as far as the eye can see. The railway was originally built by English colonizers during the second half of the 19th century to transport harvested tea to the port of Colombo.
What will you see?
Travelling no faster than 15 mph, this journey is a timeless moment lived as if in slow motion. It takes around three and a half hours to cover the 46 miles between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. However, those who have taken this train all agree they lost track of time thanks to the extraordinary experience.
The atmosphere alone is unique. The train caters to tourists, of course, but there are also many local families who take it to work in the tea plantations. All doors and windows are open, enabling passengers to totally immerse themselves in the unspoiled natural surroundings. Sellers regularly wander through the carriages with large, colorful baskets filled with Sri Lankan specialties. If you can, find a place in front of an open door and spend the journey standing up to admire the magnificent landscape passing by.
Sights include old, charming, rural stations, forests, clouds of mist, tea bushes, rays of sunlight, rice fields, lakes, even more tea bushes, and the pickers in the midst of the plantations who wave as the train passes by. The seemingly infinite railway snakes its way through the countryside, bending and winding and letting passengers admire the incredible landscapes and their countess shades of green from every angle.
Make a stop in Nuwara Eliya
Another surprise awaits travelers in Nuwara Eliya. This city perched at 6,200 feet of altitude truly seems to belong to another continent. Nicknamed “Little England,” it is filled with colonial-style buildings and there are even red telephone booths! The perfect place to stop and visit the numerous tea plantations, many of which offer guided tours to discover the sites before continuing the journey.
The train offers three tickets that each correspond to a different class. Tickets can be reserved directly at the station few days before your trip, or even on the day depending on how busy it is. And remember, the railway runs high into the mountains so we recommend you wrap up warm!
We adore sharing our favorite travel tips with you! Other than the rainy season during the summer the weather is sunny all year round in Sri Lanka. When will you plan your visit?