Nine Arches Bridge
Ella, Sri Lanka
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What is Nine Arch Bridge?
The Nine Arch Bridge, also known as the Bridge in the Sky, is a stunning example of colonial-era railway construction in Sri Lanka. Nestled amidst the lush greenery of the hill country near Ella, this viaduct bridge is one of the most iconic and photographed landmarks in Sri Lanka. Its nine majestic arches, constructed from bricks and cement without steel, span across a small valley in the highlands, bridging the gap between two hills with the railway line that runs from Demodara to Ella.
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The structure's sinuous line and the panoramic views it offers over the tea plantations and misty mountains it overlooks are truly unrivaled. As a guide who has wandered these paths and shared tales of this bridge countless times, I can tell you that the experience of watching a train snake its way across the towering structure is one that captures the beauty and engineering prowess of a bygone era. Have you ever imagined standing atop a piece of history while the breeze from the valley whispers stories of the past?
History of Nine Arch Bridge
Constructed during the British Colonial period, the Nine Arch Bridge's history is a fascinating tale. It was commissioned in 1921 under the British Government and completed in 1929. Local lore suggests that when World War I caused a steel shortage, the original plans for an iron bridge were altered in favor of a more sustainable and readily available material: bricks and rock obtained from nearby quarries. Sri Lankan builders are credited with the bridge's design and construction, which showcases their skill and adaptability in the face of resource constraints.
Given that I've lived in the area my whole life, I've heard many stories passed down through generations about the construction of the bridge. It's said that P. K. Appuhami, a Ceylonese builder, played a significant role in the construction with minimal engineering assistance. Can you fathom the pride that locals feel as trains pass over the enduring edifice their forebears crafted with their own hands?
Why is Nine Arch Bridge Important?
The Nine Arch Bridge is important not just as a transportation link but also as a symbol of Sri Lankan engineering ingenuity. Its design is a testament to the era's capability to build lasting infrastructure with limited resources. Moreover, it connects the town of Ella with other major stops on the line, promoting tourism and economic growth in the region. The bridge represents resilience, an ability to adapt, and the blending of functionality with aesthetic beauty. For Sri Lankans, it's a source of national pride; for visitors, it's a window into the island's rich history and culture.
In addition to its practical use, the bridge has become a must-visit spot for photographers, travelers, and history enthusiasts from around the world. It captures the imagination and invites countless explorers each year to marvel at its grandeur and the natural splendor that surrounds it. Who wouldn't want to stand atop this impressive structure and gaze out at the unspoiled landscape, considering the bygone era of the British Raj and the silent, enduring tales of local craftsmen?
Things to Do & See at Nine Arch Bridge
When you visit Nine Arch Bridge, there's much more to do than just admire the bridge itself. Start by taking a leisurely hike through the surrounding tea plantations, a patchwork of vibrant green that envelops the hillsides. Trekking the trails will lead you to vantage points where you can capture the perfect shot of the bridge with a panoramic backdrop. Meanwhile, enjoying a picnic in this serene environment as a train rumbles by is an experience straight out of a storybook.
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Or perhaps you're an early bird? Catching the sunrise at Nine Arch Bridge is a breathtaking experience, with the morning light illuminating the mist-covered hills. For a touch of local interaction, you can also visit the nearby villages and savor some traditional Sri Lankan tea from the nearby tea factories. And don't forget to keep an eye out for the small, quaint Demodara railway station nearby for a charming journey into Sri Lanka's rail history.
Lastly, while walking along the tracks is a popular activity, always remember to do so with caution and respect for the active railway line. Be mindful of the train schedules to ensure a safe visit. Wouldn't it be thrilling to find yourself in the heart of Sri Lanka's hill country, bridging the gap between adventure and historical reverence as you explore the legendary Nine Arch Bridge?