Tea pickers on the Pedro Estate, Nuwara Eliya<

Tea pickers on the Pedro Estate, Nuwara Eliya...

A classic Sri Lankan train ride...

The train ride from Colombo up into the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka is a highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka.  You can travel on one of two daily modern blue trains or as shown here on a classic train with a first class observation car attached to the rear.  This gives a wonderful rearward view along the tracks, you can see how this wonderful railway was constructed, hugging the hillside under overhanging rocks.  Nanuoya is the railhead for Nuwara Eliya, a colonial-era hill station where the British would spend time away from the heat & humidity of the coast, surrounded by Ceylon tea plantations.

small bullet point  Colombo to Nuwara Eliya in photos

small bullet point  Watch the video!

small bullet point  Nuwara Eliya & a visit to a tea factory

Practical information

small bullet point  Train times & fares

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What are the trains like

small bullet point  Luggage, food & tips

Colombo to Nuwara Eliya in photos

Colombo Fort railway station, exterior

Colombo Fort station, opened in 1917 in the bustling heart of the old colonial Fort area.  See map.

Tuk tuk to the station   Arriving at Colombo Fort station

Arriving at the station by tuk tuk from the Galle Face Hotel, the best way to get around cities in Sri Lanka.

Inside at Colombo Fort station

Bustling Colombo Fort, like a British station in the 1950s with the heat & humidity turned up...

Oobservation car at Colombo Fort   1st class observation car at Colombo Fort

Boarding the train....  The locomotive draws the train into platform 3, then detaches to run round and attach to the front.  The lucky passengers with first class reservations for the 09:45 express to Hatton, Nanuoya, Elle & Badulla board the observation car at the rear.

View leaving Colombo Fort from observation car

The train sets off, leaving Colombo Fort station behind (seen above).  Shortly afterwards it trundles non-stop through Colombo's other main station, Maradana, some 2 km to the east.

Inside the 1st class observation car   Buddhist temple seen from train

The observation car is not air-conditioned, but a breeze wafts in through the open side windows...


Passing a local temple, soon after leaving Colombo Fort.  There's always things to see from a Sri Lankan train...

Rambukkana station   Wayside station

The train clatters along at 30-50mph, stopping at wayside stations with neatly-kept flower beds.  Above left, Rambukkana.

View back down the track

The observation car gives a superb view back along the track, so you can see how this wonderful railway is constructed.  After Rambukkana, where the Colombo Commuter service ends, the line is mostly single-track.  Sri Lankan railways are built to a broad gauge, 5' 6", wider than European standard gauge...

View back down the track   View back down the track to tunnel

The line climbs towards Kandy with tunnels & cuttings gouged from the hillside.  In places jungle is reclaiming the tracks...

Mountain seen from the train

Mountains from the train...

Dawson Tower approaching Kadugannawa   Kadugannawa station

Kadugannawa...  As the train rolls into Kadugannawa, look for the Dawson Tower on the right (or left as you look rearwards), erected in 1832 in tribute to Royal Engineer Captain W F Dawson who built much of the adjacent Colombo-Kandy road.

Kadugannawa railway museum   1953 M1 locomotive at Kadugannawa

At Kadugannawa station on the right (left as you face rearwards) you'll see various exhibits outside Sri Lanka's National Railway Museum, including this 1953 British-built type M1 (above right).

Scenery from the train
Signals at Peradeniya Junction   Oobservation car at Peradeniya Junction

Peradeniya Junction, near Kandy...  Sri Lanka's second city is Kandy, located on a 4-mile branch line from Peradeniya Junction on the Colombo-Badulla main line.  The Chinese-built blue trains turn left at Peradeniya, go into Kandy terminus, change direction, retrace their steps to Peradeniya and turn left again towards Badulla - they have a driving cab at each end so it's easy for them.  Our classic train has a locomotive at the front and it by-passes Kandy, picking up passengers from Kandy at Peradeniya Junction.  The station has platforms on all three sides of the triangular junction, but strangely, the train rolls slowly through the apparently-disused platform on the side of the triangle that by-passes Kandy, halts briefly at the signal pictured above left, then it sets back into the Kandy-to-Hill-country platform.

View of bridge back down the track   Scenery




Scenery   Train 1007 at Galboda

Galaboda...  At the wayside station of Galaboda, the train waits for the Colombo-bound Podi Menike blue train to pass.

Scenery from train 1007

After Galboda, the climb into the hills continues...

Another view back down the track
Train 1007 at Hatton   Observation car at Hatton

Hatton, the station for Adam's Peak...  The train pauses here just long enough for a photo or two.

Tea plantations between Hatton and Nanuoya

Tea country!  The train now snakes its way past hills where almost every slope is covered with tea bushes.

Waterfall   Back down the track




Train 1007 in tea country

The weather is changeable, but the light is now fantastic...

The railway hugs the hillside   Train 1007 at Great Western

The line is cut into the hillside...


A stop at the very British-sounding Great Western station.

Great light over the hills

A rain shower hits the train as it rattles along above a broad valley...

Exporail car at Nanuoya   Oobservation car at Nanuoya

Nanuoya...  The train arrives at Nanuoya around 40 minutes late.  Above left, passengers alight from the privately-run air-conditioned Exporail car.  The train continues to Haputale, Elle & Badulla.

Nanuoya station   Nanuoya station

Nanuoya is the railhead for Nuwara Eliya, some 7 km away - there are always taxi vans waiting.

Rest rooms are not toilets!   Tablet instruments at Nanuoya   Signal at Nanuoya station

Rest rooms. You didn't think these were toilets, did you? Toilets are located nearby.


The ancient British-built tablet instruments, in the station master's office at Nanuoya.  These ensure the trains run safely on the single line.


Semaphore signal and station nameboard in the sun at Nanuoya...

Nuwara Eliya

The hill station of Nuwara Eliya is a strange mix of colonial-era bungalows, modern hotels and guesthouses, a pleasure lake, parks, and even a racecourse...

Gregory Lake at Nuwara Eliya   Nuwara Eliya Post Office

Nuwara Eliya's Gregory Lake...


Nuwara Eliya's colonial era post office...

Grand Hotel at Nuwara Eliya   Grand Hotel lounge

The best place to stay:  Nuwara's Eliya's historic Grand Hotel built in the style of a Tudor mansion, check prices & book...

Time for tea...

You can visit a number of tea plantations & factories around Nuwara Eliya, including the Pedro Estate, well worth a visit...

Tea pickers on the Pedro Estate   Pedro Estate tea factory

Tea pickers on the Pedro Estate at Nuwara Eiya...


The Pedro Estate tea factory...

Why Tea Is Good For You   Drying the tea leaves

In case you need reminding...


Drying the tea leaves...

Watch the video

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