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Uva Province - Nine Arches Bridge

About Nine Arches Bridge

Ella is has become one of the major tourist hotspots of Sri Lanka and it is largely due to the epic scenery and hikes in the region such as Ella Rock and Adam’s Peak. However, it’s the smaller attractions, hidden gems and laid back vibes of the town that keep people in Ella for up to a week at a time. One of those unique attractions is the Nine Arch Bridge in between Ella station and Demodara station.

According to history, the bridge was built by the locals using such materials; when the construction came to a standstill from the lack of steel caused by World War I. But, in addition to this history; lore abounds the creation of the bridge.

Construction of this bridge was started during the First World War time and British government was not in a position to provide the required steel supply for the constructions. But things did not go smoothly with the railway construction. They found that they were unable to bridge a large gap between two hills; as there was a quagmire in the valley in between. It was not possible to create firm anchoring, due to the marshy ground. On learning this, Appuhami requested to take over the bridge project. While he was rejected initially, they agreed later; as he had gained their trust with his assistance and friendship. As the story goes, Appuhami started working on the bridge in 1913. He solved the issue of the unstable ground by toppling giant rocks into the space; until a firm bed of rocks was formed. He then created the bridge’s brick columns over this bed and continued with the construction of the bridge. So the construction was delayed and a local resident call Mr. P.K. Appuhamy came up with the plan of building with only bricks, stones and cement. He got the approval and support from the British engineersthe methods of constructions used by Appuhami proved to be so intuitive and cost effective; that he finished the entire project, which was intended to continue for many years, within a single year at a fraction of the original cost planned. The British officials were so shocked that the ‘savages’ had finished such a huge project so easily; that they refused to believe its structural integrity. At this point Appuhami is said to have sworn to the strength of the structure by saying he would prove it by lying under the bridge; when the railway line was used for the first time. Once the track was completed, he kept to his promise; awing the officials with his achievement.

The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is on the Demodara loop and spans 91 meters at a height of 24m. The beautiful nine arches make it a very picturesque spot especially as it is located in a dense jungle and agricultural setting. Behind the railway, a forest is booming and below, tea leaves are being cultivated.Many foreign and domestic tourists gather around and on the bridge in the hour before one of the trains is scheduled to pass over the bridge. Demodara Nine Arches Bridge is the most the popular Sri Lankan railway bridge among photographers. They can get amazing views of this bridge from different angles. Tourists who come to the Badulla/ Bandarawela area, include this nine arch bridge as a must visit attraction.

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