Demodara Nine Arch Bridge (දෙමෝදර අහස් නමයේ ආරුක්කු පාලම)

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This viaduct was built at Gotuwala between the two railway stations – Ella and Demodara during the British Colonial period is the largest in Sri Lanka. Located almost 3100 feet above sea level, this 99.6ft high bridge is called “Ahas namaye palama” (Nine Skies Bridge) in Sinhala. When one stands underneath it and looks up there is a beautiful sight of ‘nine skies’ through the nine arches, hence the Sinhala name. This bridge is also called ‘The Bridge in the sky’ due to its sheer height.

This massive bridge is built entirely of solid rocks, bricks and cement without using a single piece of steel. The bridge was finally commissioned in 1921.

Today Demodara Bridge has become an iconic site for Tourists from the world over to Sri Lanka. This bridge is one of the most photographed structures today.

History of Nine Arch Bridge

There is a popular account about the construction of this bridge. When construction work commenced on the bridge, World War 1 broke out and the steel consignment assigned for this site was seized and used for war-related projects. When the work came to a standstill the locals came forward and built the bridge with solid stone bricks and cement without steel.

A rather unknown story was published in the Maubima newspaper about the origin of this bridge. According to this article,  The construction of this bridge was given to a person called P.K. Appuhami living in Kappatipola in Melimada.

The builder of Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata
The builder of Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata

According to one of his grandsons now living in this house, P.K. Appuhami was born in 1870 and has been a popular drummer and a devil dancer. One day he lost a drumming competition to another drummer during a thovil ceremony and has returned home in the traditional devil costume.

At that time the railway was being constructed and and the Britisher who saw him in the costume got frightened seeing him near Ohiya Railway Station. But later a relationship was built up between them and Appuhami helped the construction of the railway by supplying labor to the Britisher.

When the construction reached a gap between two hills the British engineers got worried due to a quagmire at the bottom of this gap.  Securely anchoring the columns of a bridge to the ground was an issue.  Appuhami by this time had secured the trust of the engineers by then and requested to hand over the construction of this massive bridge to him. After rejecting the first time, they finally agreed to hand over this mammoth task to Appuhami.

He started work around 1913 and got his men to topple large rocks to this gap until they filled up the bottom and then he built the brick columns on this rock bed. He completed the work within about a year and the cost of construction was so low, that the Britishers were unsure of the structural integrity of the bridge.

Appuhami assured that he would lie down under the bridge on the first train voyage across this and he is said to have kept to the promise when the railway line was first commissioned.

Based on folklore in the area it is said that the English offered the balance payment and he carried four carts full of silver coins from Colombo and that he provided meals for the Parabedda and Puranwela villagers for 2 days and also gave them one silver coin each.

First day Cover of 2014 stamp celebrating the engineering marvel of Demodara Bridge and Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata
First day Cover of 2014 stamp celebrating the engineering marvel of Demodara Bridge and Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata
First day Cover of 2014 stamp celebrating the engineering marvel of Demodara Bridge and Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata
First day Cover of 2014 stamp celebrating the engineering marvel of Demodara Bridge and Nine Arch Bridge at Demodata

Also See

Map of  Demodara Nine Arch Bridge

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Traveling Directions to Demodara Nine Arch Bridge

Route from Bandarawela to Demodara Nine Arch Bridge
Distance :15 km
Travel time : 30 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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