Bopath Ella Falls – බෝපත් ඇල්ල

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Bopath Ella Falls

Bopath Ella Falls – Photo by Banja&FransMulder licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Height :30 meters
District :Ratnapura

The Bopath Falls cascades in the shape of a bo (Ficus religiosa) tree (hence its name) and is the most comprehensively studied fall in Sri Lanka. Its source is the Kurugana River that later joins the Kaluganga River at Kurugaomaodara.

The average temperature of the area is 26.9 – 27.8 degrees Celsius and the annual rainfall of the fall’s catchment area is 5080mm. The mean speed of the flow is 6 cubic metres per second. The upper reach of the fall is made up of granite and biotite virin, and is covered by sand. The water from the fall irrigates the paddy fields of the Udakada and Kuruwita areas.

The surrounding plant and tree life includes attikka (Ficus racimosa), kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), midella, dun (Doona spp), para (Wormia suffruticosa), ginihota (Cythia spp), rathmadiya, ketala (Lagenendra oveta), Beduru (Dryneria spp), orchids, varieties of meewana (Madhca) badal, hanassa, makulu and beduru. Animal species include wild boar, Meemina deer and reptiles, and the water is home to many species of fish including bulathhapaya, lellu, magura, korali, sonnu and eel. In addition to its rich bio-diversity, the fall is also steeped in folklore. One such story tells how a youth from Colombo made a pilgrimage here, and on losing his way was helped and sheltered by a local village girl.

A love developed between the two and she became pregnant before his departure. He left, promising to return but never did. Overcome with grief, she took her own life by plunging into the fall. Villagers say that her ghost (which appears as a floating blue light) haunts the fall.

Another local belief is that a treasure trove lies somewhere within the fall and that one thousand human sacrifices are needed to retrieve it. Bopath Falls is in the Ratnapura District, Kuruwita Divisional Secretariat at Agalwatte village. Take the road from Columbo to Ratnapura and turn left along Devipahala road. After 3km the fall is reached. (The Dodam Falls is located close by).

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Map of Bopath Ella Falls


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Travel Directions to Bopath Ella Falls

Route from Colombo to Bopath Ella Falls

Route from Ratnapura to Bopath Ella Falls

Through : Kaduwela – Avissawella
Distance : 83 km
Travel time : 2 hour
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Kuruwita
Distance : 17 km
Travel time : 30 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

Bopath Ella [2] – Celebrating the ‘Queen’ of the peak Wilderness

by P. D. A. S. Gunasekera
Daily News

Bopath Ella, the ‘Queen’ of the peak wilderness, waits at the entrance of Sabaragamuwa, to accord a warm welcome to the visitors and tourists, clad in a ‘cascade of silvery-spray’ bringing warmath as well as cool comfort to those who seek them, round the year.

On rainy days in the continuously wet weather the visitors could see on their way to Bopath-Ella, at Medagama, a little distance from the road, falling from a height of about 80 feet, a budding waterfall, little known to the ‘uninitiated’, a beautiful spectacle of a seasonal fall (only during rainy season) promising to be a companion to the Bopath-Ella.

Bopath-Ella with her origin in the peak wilderness, at a small watershed, gathering momentum, enlarging herself with the waters of the numerous springs and streams, as she coursed down over hill and dale, huge rocks and boulders, until she turned ‘sight-perfect’ to please the hundreds of thousands of ‘fans’ the world over, as a premier waterfall of distinction, in Sabaragamuwa.

Situated in close proximity to the tropics, close to Colombo, the hub of international communication, Bopath-Ella is the nearest waterfall to the international community, visiting Sri Lanka, offering a ‘show-case tourist package’ any time, any day round the year, within a travelling distance of an hour and a half by car and forty-five minutes by air.

Bopath-Ella is said to have, derived its name from its shape of a ‘Bo-leaf’ with the verdure of the wilderness, on either side supported by huge rock boulders hundreds of feet high, framing the Ella as it falls 99 feet to the pool below, filled with a sea of white bubbling foam.

In the back-drop of the Ella, in the wilderness of the virgin forest of valuable timber, Milla, Hora, Na, Nuga, interwoven with varied creepers, Puswel, cane and Bardura, lie concealed innumerable places of worship, including Divaguhawa, mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures, as the resting places of thousands of ‘Arahat Bikkhus’, at the time, Lord Buddha left the imprint of his sacred foot, on Mount Samanala.

Of all the waterfalls in Sri Lanka this is the only one closely connected with traditional stories running into centuries past.

The traditional stories surrounding the Ella have invested it almost with a religious fervour. This is also the only one, situated in close proximity to the peak and its immediate surroundings, believed to have been a bathing spot of the Royal Household of Sitawaka during the royal visits to the Maha Saman Devale, Ratnapura.

The story has it that once the royal bearers of the golden casket containing sacred costumes of the God Saman to the Maha Saman Devale at Ratnapura, had placed it at the foot of a Na-tree, to clean themselves at the Bopath Ella.

On resuming the journey after the bath they found the casket missing and searching high and low, at last got a glimpse of it, at the bottom of the pool. All attempts at recovering it failed as it appeared and disappeared with the slightest motion of the water.

Finally, they found the casket safely lodged at the top of the Na-tree with its reflection shining at the bottom of the pool. From that day the village in which Bopath-Ella was situated had come to be named ‘Devi-Pahala’, the place where God Saman appeared (vide – Sadhadaraniya Bopath Ella).

Bopath-Ella a perennial source of clean clear water blessed, with the sacred contact of the feet of the ‘Arahat’, under the protection of God Saman as the tradition went, perhaps, had been used, by the descendants of the ‘Balangoda Man’ who had lived in the vicinity, at Batadomba Lena 29,000 to 30,000 years ago according to the archaeological evidence, on record.

Many attempts have been made since Bopath-Ella came into the limelight, in recent years, by private business tycoons at home and abroad for the use of the Ella for developing hydro-electric power with no success.

Bopath Ella and its surroundings will soon become the ‘natures’ show-piece’ when the development projects underway, launched by the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council, are completed enhancing the facilities, the protection and the pleasing prospects of the waterfall, ‘the cynosure’ of Sabaragamuwa.

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