It was the rainy season. It had been raining cats and dogs for the past few days. The best option during this brass monkey weather was to stay at home reading an interesting novel with a hot cup of coffee. But we had a more productive option. Rather than cursing the rain we decided to go out on a sojourn to explore the serene beauty of Kenneliya. When we reached the entry point of the jungle it was mid-noon. The path was muddy and slippery and the sky was gloomy and dark. We almost had to wade through our path in the sludge.
The Kanneliya jungle is not an isolated jungle but a jungle wedged between the Dediyagala and the Nakiyadeniya jungles, making it a vital part of a jungle complex. The Kanneliya jungle covers an area of more than 5,000 hectares. The jungle is rich in natural beauty, which includes several waterfalls. The ideal time to visit to savor her beauty is early dawn.
We waited at the entry point to the jungle under a shelter until our companion Thanura brought us the entry tickets but we had to wait for a guide, to enter the jungle. Due to the inclement weather there was a long delay to find a guide.
After passing the official bungalows and quarters we entered the thick jungle. We stumbled upon an asphalted road. We were curious as to how a motorable road could exist in the middle of this jungle. The guide provided us the answer. “It was used to transport timber earlier. About thirty years ago, illegal loggers felled all the huge trees in this area. What remains now are the trees that grew afterwards,” he explained how Kanneliya was violated in the past.
The guide pointed at a chameleon that scurried out from underneath a bunch of dead leaves. According to him, the critter is endemic to Sri Lanka.
On the left of our path was the roaring Nunnikita brook, which flows more serenely during sunnier weather. The guide also showed us to a bat cave.
The trek down the winding footpath was easier but one could skip the path by taking shortcuts that cut across bends. However, off path the leech menace was unmanageable. We decided to take shortcuts anyway in order to save time to see more jungle creatures. On a shortcut we chanced upon a type of viper coiled on a dead trunk.
The guide showed us the direction to the Anagimala Ella. But I insisted that we go to the Narangas Ella first. The guide was adamant that it was a risky journey and maintained that we should drop the whole idea. He pointed out that the brook would be overflowing and crossing it would be impossible. After much coaxing and arguing we managed to get him to agree.
The guide was flabbergasted by the fact that we were so keen to see the fall in the downpour unlike other normal visitors. I convinced him that the beauty of the fall increased with heavy rains that entailed higher water levels.
As the rain started again we got into our rain coats. The guide had an umbrella. We were equipped with rain covers and a large umbrella to protect our camera equipment. At the butt end of the asphalt road we came across abandoned ruined timber shelters and foundations overgrown with weeds.
We proceeded along the narrow footpath as the rain lessened. I stopped for a while to capture on my camera a well grown pitcher plant, a carnivorous plant locally known as Bandura (Nepenthes distilatoria).
My companion Thanura crossed the brook halfway. Submerged in knee-deep water he asked the guide, “Is this the stream you told us was so impassable?” “I warned you that if it pours incessantly the stream swells so much that we would not be able to cross on our return,” retorted the guide to justify his argument.
We heard the sound of the fall, at a distance, through the thick jungle. After climbing up and later trekking down we came across a brook but not a waterfall. But we realized that the sound of the waterfall was coming from further upstream.
The Narangas Ella was not as tall as we expected it to be and not as big as other waterfalls either. But, it possessed a serenity and grandeur that would have been the envy of any other waterfall. Its imposing silvery columns of water cascaded down like a white veil of foam ascending from the skies. We thus ended our sojourns to the Kannelia amidst heavy rain.
TEXT AND PICS BY THARAKA GAMAGE
(Translated by Ananda Elkaduwa)