All you need to know about The Nine Arch Bridge
Sri Lanka’s tourism boom has been on the rise in recent years and the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is one of the highlights plus an iconic spot that has drawn thousands to marvel not only at this majestic piece of clever architect but also the fascinating scenery, epic waterfalls and amazing historical caves that Ella has to offer.
Here is everything you need to know before you visit.
History in brief
The magnificent bridge also referred to as the Bridge in the sky is a British colonial-era railway which is built on the hill country of Sri Lanka. The bridge is built at 3100 feet above the sea level and has stood since 1921 forming a viaduct between Ella and Demodara railway stations.
This architect masterpiece holds an interesting historical story of how it ended-up with solely blocks, stones and cement without single steel used. It’s said that after the construction of the bridge begun, the World War I broke out and all the steel that was initially intended to go into the construction was instead used for military purposes.
Regardless of how true the story is, the fact remains that, with its nine glorious arches architectural ingenuity and amazing decades of durability, Nine Arches Bridge is definitely a sight to behold.
How to get to the Nine Arche Bridge
The bridge is quite close to the town of Ella and can easily be accessed via three points the only dilemma of the route you would use depends on how much walking you’re fit enough to do.
You can access it from either side of the railway line the first entry point being from Ella train station. If you are to take this route, prepare for around 45 minutes’ walk along the track of the train. Be sure to go to the right of the train tracks when standing on the station’s side. This route is the longest among the three but it’s also the flattest making it relatively easier than the rest.
The second point of entry is from the bridge’s southern end, and since it starts right from the town of Ella, you can reach here by either tuk-tuk or through walking. It’s quite a distance to trek so you can opt to be dropped by the tuk-tuk right by the bridge which can be pretty expensive though.
The last route is from the northern side of the bridge. From this route, a tuk-tuk ride can only bring you so far but then drop you off somewhere in the middle of the jungle since the rest of the distance can only be covered through walking. It’s however only a 15 minutes’ walk from the drop off which ranks it as the shortest yet the steepest but as long as you have good shoes, this should be your best bet.
What you should expect
The Nine Arch Bridge is an iconic image that represents the city of Ella and Sri Lanka in general. This spot is one of the most picturesque destinations in the country and you should plan your trip assured of a great time and experience to treasure forever.
Whilst waiting for the train to pass through the bridge, you can walk up and down the surrounding spectacular tea plantations or walk down the train tracks where you can meet several locals doing brisk business, selling coconuts and coconut drinks which can be pretty refreshing under the scorching sun.
The best viewpoints
There are a couple of points that offer breath-taking views but here are the top three;
The southern end viewpoint
If you’re heading to the Bridge for the sunrise, the southern end which is closest to the tunnel is the best. This spot is perfect to watch the valley light up as the sun rises at dawn behind the mountains. You’ll also have a stunning curve of the bridge right in front of you too and the walk up from the bridge is just a few minutes.
Northern end at the tea field
This is the most popular spot as you can get into the tea field and walk right up to the foot and the base of the bridge which gives you the perspective of actually how tall the bridge is.
This spot also offers various angles to take that awe-inspiring photo whether your photographer stands on top of the bridge or the bottom, the outcome is perfect either way.
It’s a bit steep though getting down through the tea field so you should tread with caution.
Northern end at the café viewpoint
This family-owned café not only does it offer some fascinating views of the Nine Arch Bridge, but it also has the friendliest people on the planet.
To get here, you need to head to the north side of the bridge- the side without the tunnel. Take up the dirt path heading upwards that leads to a large opening. Once at the top you can have a drink as you enjoy an unbeatable view of the bridge, tea plantation and the charming jungle.
Nine Arch Bridge Train Times
Trains are supposed to pass over the bridge at 9:30am, 11:30am, 3:30pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm.
Trains pass through the Bridge from either direction a couple of times throughout the day and although they really don’t make it on the specified time, you can expect to see one after every two hours. So don’t rely much the timetable which is just a rough estimate.
You’ll get to see the blue passenger’s train and the red cargo train which travels from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya.
Sunrise is definitely the best time to visit. If you’re early enough you’ll have the views all to yourself! Not only is the light illuminating the bridge stunning and the ambiance so peaceful, but getting there before anyone else will let you have shots from every corner you wish plus it’s an open field so it gets pretty hot during the day.
From about 11 am it gets insanely busy as the tourists visiting in day trips begin to make their way in around this time. All in all a visit to the Nine Arch Bridge is one not to be missed.