Once upon a time an outpost of the Kandyan Kingdom, the historical town in Sri Lanka simply known as Kadugannawa, is now famed for being an outpost for the nature lover and history geek. Located about 3 and a half hours away from Colombo if going by car, tucked in the hill country, boasts of a surrounding of lush green tea estates, an intricate railway network, an intriguing road and views that just take your breath away.

Top Reason to Visit

Kadugannawa is famous for a great many things, however, it is the history contained within the town’s historical monuments and buildings, like the Kadugannawa Railway Museum and the Kadugannawa Rock Tunnel to name but two, which takes the higher priority over its rustic beauty. Thus resulting in being considered a landmark tourist spot in Kandy, which in turn justifies the top reason to visit the town.

While You're There

A prophecy fulfilled:

During the initial part of the British colonial era, the Kingdom of Kandy was the only obstacle that was stopping the colonial powerhouse to obtain full dominion over the country. The first British expedition in 1803 was a total failure as the Kandyan forces proved to be well prepared for a foreign invasion. However, the British Empire’s resolve resulted in a second expedition in 1815, employing a more psychological approach than a physical approach. It was prophesized that the Kandyan Kingdom will only fall if the mountains are pierced, which was exactly what the imperialists did. Employing the services of Captain Dawson, the imperialists set about fulfilling one of their strategies which was constructing an easier, direct road to Kandy. The Kadugannawa Rock Tunnel that is carved through the natural mountain, which is a part of the route, played the part of fulfilling the prophecy. For completing such a feat, the Dawson Tower was erected in the town to commemorate the ingenuity of Captain Dawson.

Chug along a century’s old track:

One of the more recent highlights of the town is the National Railway Museum that was opened to the public in 2014. Showcasing classic locomotives stationed on the front yard and old carriages, take a glimpse into the history of trains that links its rails with Sri Lanka’s colonial past. Located right behind the 150 odd year old Kadugannawa Railway Station, it is a treat for anyone to visit the museum and delve into a rich colonial heritage that is still shown on the track contemporarily.

Views that will leave you breathless:

Surprisingly the rustic element comes second when finding a reason to visit the town, however, it is by no means insignificant. Hopping on a short train ride will certainly prove that fact, as you will be able to witness some magnificent mountain ranges out the window, such as the iconic Bible Rock. Moreover, the Kadugannawa incline, considered the gateway to the hill country, is a major engineering feat which involves a 1,400 feet climb through 12 tunnels. One of the tunnels aptly named the ‘Lion’s Mouth’. A simple peak out the window would leave you wondering how the train does not fall off, as you chug along right next to a vertical cliff. Frightening as it may sound, the breathtaking views of beautiful paddy fields below will definitely compensate for the fear you may experience. Warning! Always make sure it is safe to look out though.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about in the town area is quite easy as there are ample busses and tuk-tuks for your ease. However, it is better to walk to the places of interest as many of them are situated close to each other.

Weather: The months from January to March are normally the kindest when it comes to the weather as the temperature and humidity is just perfect for travelling.

Money: It is important to always carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s and 100s since many shops do not accept credit and debit cards, apart from the supermarkets.

Clothing: Wearing casual / light wear is the best bet here, since it can sometimes get a bit warm and humid, even during the season.

Safety: Kadugannawa is safe, but do make sure you are mindful of your belongings at all times.

Meals and refreshments: There are quite a few guest houses and hotels that provide some reasonable arrangements, however, there are a few independent local eateries scattered across, should you choose to opt for a more local bite.

All in all, Kadugannawa has all the makings of a fine destination to delve into the colonial heritage of the country along with its natural beauty.

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