We were so enthralled by the beauty of the cascading water columns of the Meemure waterfall that we couldn’t take our eyes off of it. We didn’t sense the time go by until the guide reminded us that it was time to return. I finally took a few more pictures of the waterfall and bade farewell to the waterfall Diyakeralla Ella reluctantly mindful of the ticking clock.

I was very eager to take some snaps of the water pool at the foot of the Veddapini Ella which we missed on the way up. The pool was serene now. The swarm of picnickers we met on the way up had left by this time and the stream flowed unhindered over mossy boulders, frothing silvery bubbles, accompanied by a musical tune while chirping birds lent the chorus.

Though the surrounding jungle was gloomy, the wristwatch indicated there was ample time till the sunset.

As it was getting dark we hurried to get back as we wanted to find a suitable place to camp overnight. Though the guide said that there were many suitable places to lodge, we preferred a place by the stream in the jungle. The hitch, as the guide explained, was that erecting tents by the stream was not allowed due to environmental concerns.

The guide assured us that he could find an ideal place but we had to trek down.

We returned to the Meemure village settlement and had to climb down to the foot of the village.

“There is a shortcut to reach the place by-passing the road,” the guide said pointing at a paddy field far away. The paddy field stretched over a large extent overlooking the Lakegala peak.
When I looked at the track ahead I saw a crowd in colourful clothes trekking on the paddy terraces to my surprise. I realized that all of them were sightseers visiting the location of the famous children’s movie ‘Suriya Arana’, shot a few years back. Due to this bit of trivia, this site is not short of visitors. The people trekked on the bund of the paddy terraces one after the other, forming a beautiful procession of people in single file.

When we saw the scenic beauty of the place we felt that it should be managed strictly to prevent destruction. We saw some kids swinging on the few creepers hanging from trees virtually enacting scenes from the film. Having been frequented by too many tourists who disturbed the ecosystem’s tranquility and delicate equilibrium, only a trace of the sites former glory as captured on the film was preserved.

When we proceeded further ahead we came to a place where two streams meet and went up along one branch and reached our destination at nightfall. The guide bade goodbye to us and we started setting up camp.

We camped at a site where the stream was very wide with large Kumbuk trees lining the bank and thorny shrubs behind it with a thick jungle on the opposite. Clearing the campsite was difficult due to thorny shrubs, so, we decided to set up the tent on the bank of the stream though it was certainly an invitation to danger but there was no other option.

Two of us set up the tent while another two prepared dinner. Afterwards we had a good dip in the stream in the moonlight. Mares screamed upon seeing what we thought was a crab scurrying over the sand but it turned out to be a giant spider. We had never seen one so large before and I was quick to snap a photo.

After dinner we had a chat sitting on the boulders out in the moonlight. As the night grew dark clouds started to gather sending chills down our spines as the prospect of rain meant the stream would swell and our campsite would be flooded. It would be worse if it rained upstream as floods would drown us instantaneously.

Our hearts skipped a beat as we heard the sound of drizzle on the tent.

To be continued…
Courtesy the Sunday Rivira
(Translated by Ananda Elkaduwa)