Waterfalls in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Waterfalls in Sri Lanka

1 November, 2020

Sri Lanka, the teardrop-shaped country, is quite well-known for its gorgeous waterfalls. Hundreds of waterfalls in Sri Lanka are inaccessible and that perhaps makes them all the more magical. These ones accessible are no less stunning either – strong gushes of water falling with full force from an altitude that gives you goose bumps. To top it, they are surrounded by lush green forests and rocky terrains. If that sounds like a landscape you often imagine yourself in, it’s time to realise your dreams.

So whether you have a love for scenic beauty or looking for a daring excursion, don’t forget to plan a visit to these gorgeous waterfalls in Sri Lanka that will surely make you fall in love with their majestic beauty!

From an exhaustive list of Sri Lanka waterfalls, check out the ones that you must visit on your first trip to the country.


Ravana Falls??


Location: Ella, Sri Lanka
Type: Cascade
Elevation: 1,050 m (3,445 ft)
Total height: 25 m (82 ft)[1]
Watercourse: A tributary of Kirindi Oya.

Ravana Falls is a popular sightseeing attraction in Sri Lanka. It currently ranks as one of the widest falls in the country.


This waterfall measures approximately 25 m (82 ft) in height and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop.

During the local wet season, the waterfall turns into what is said to resemble an areca flower with withering petals. But this is not the case in the dry season, where the flow of water reduces dramatically.

The falls form part of the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary, and is 6 km (3.7 mi) away from the local railway station at Ella.

Historical legend

The falls have been named after the legendary king Ravana, which is connected to the famous Indian epic, the Ramayana. According to legend, it is said that Ravana (who was the king of Sri Lanka at the time) had kidnapped Princess Sita, and had hidden her in the caves behind this waterfall, now simply known as the Ravana Ella Cave. The reason for the kidnapping is said to be a revenge for slicing off the nose of his sister by Rama (husband of Sita) and his brother Laxmana. At the time, the cave was surrounded with thick forests in the midst of wilderness. It is also believed that Rama’s queen bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from this waterfall. They believed that Ravana has played the Ravanahatha over here.

Ravana Ella cave

The Ravana Ella Cave lies 1,370 m (4,490 ft) above sea level on the foundation of a cliff. The cave is a popular local tourist attraction, 11 km (7 mi) away from Bandarawela. Excavations undertaken in the cave uncovered evidence of human habitation dating back to 25,000 years.


Devon Falls

Location: Talawakele, Sri Lanka
Type: Tiered
Elevation: 1,140 m (3,740 ft)
Total height: 97 m (318 ft)
Number of drops: 3
Watercourse: A tributary of Kothmale Oya

Devon Falls, known as the ‘Veil of the Valley’, is a waterfall in Sri Lanka, situated 6 km (3.7 mi) west of Talawakele, Nuwara Eliya District on the A7 highway. The falls is named after a pioneer English coffee planter called Devon, whose plantation was situated nearby the falls. The waterfall is 97 m (318 ft) high and is the 19th highest in the country. The falls are formed by a tributary of Kothmale Oya, which is a tributary of Mahaweli River. The elevation of Devon Falls is 1,140 m (3,740 ft) above sea level.


St.Clair’s Falls

Location:?Talawakele, Sri Lanka
Type: Cascade
Total height: 80m
Number of drops: 2
Total width: 50m
Watercourse:?Kotmale Oya

St. Clair’s Falls is one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and is commonly known as the “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka”. It is one of six waterfalls affected by the Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project.

The falls are 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the town of Talawakele on the Hatton-Talawakele Highway in Nuwara Eliya District.

The falls are along the Kotmale Oya, a tributary of the Mahaweli River, as it cascades over three rock outcrops into a large pool, running through a tea estate, from which the falls derive their name from. The waterfalls consist of two falls called Maha Ella (Sinhala “The Greater Fall”), which is 80 metres (260 ft) high and 50 metres (160 ft) wide and Kuda Ella, (Sinhala “The Lesser Fall”), which is 50 metres (160 ft) high and immediately downstream of the main fall. St Clair’s falls are the 20th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.

Environmentalists’ concerns

From the inception of the Upper Kotmale Project, the environmentalists protested concerning that the waterfall is threatened by the Upper Kotmale Dam. The falls are 2.2 km (1.4 mi) downstream from the dam. The Government, however, has stated that they will release a limited quantity of water to ensure a continuous flow of 47,250 cubic metres (1,669,000 cu ft) water over the falls for 10 hours and 30 minutes daily, between sunrise and sunset.


Bopath Ella

Location: Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
Total height: 30 m (98 ft)
Watercourse: Kuru Ganga

Bopath Ella is a waterfall in the Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka. It has a shape very similar to the leaf of the Sacred fig or “Bo” tree, which has earned it this name. The waterfall is a major tourist attraction in the country. Local myths say that it is haunted and that it hides a treasure trove.


Bopath Ella is in a village named Agalwatte in Kuruwita in the Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka.


The name “Bopath Ella” has been given to the waterfall because of its shape. The water flows through a narrow gap in the rocks and then widens, forming the shape of a leaf of a Bo tree which is the Sinhala name for sacred fig (Ficus religiosa).

Path means leaves of a tree and Ella means waterfall. Virgin forests with a rich biodiversity surround the waterfall.

Bopath Ella is 30 metres (98 ft) high. It is formed from the Kuru Ganga, which is a tributary of the Kalu Ganga. Its mean rate of flow is 6 square metres (65 sq ft) per second, and its catchment area receives an average rainfall of 5,080 millimetres (200 in) annually. Water from the falls is used for paddy cultivation. Bopath Ella is also the most comprehensively studied waterfall in the country.

Bopath Ella is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, since it is not far from the capital, Colombo, and is easily accessible. The path to the waterfall is lined with a number of shops and stalls, and it is polluted because of this commercialisation.

Stories and myths

The waterfall has been used for bathing by ancient rulers of the country when they visited the nearby Maha Saman Devale in Ratnapura. It is also believed that the deity Saman has appeared here.

There are several myths associated with Bopath Ella. One such belief is that a local village girl jumped into the waterfall and killed herself when her lover abandoned her. He was reputedly a pilgrim from Colombo who failed to return to the pregnant girl. The girl’s ghost is said to haunt the waterfall, and appears as a blue light. Another popular belief among the locals is that there is an ancient treasure trove hidden in the waterfall, and that one thousand human sacrifices are required to get it.