On the fringes of Idalgashinna : Taking a step back into the heart of what railroading truly
Idalgashinna – a well-endowed name that rings a bell with to anyone and everyone whom have traversed the upcountry railway : a quaint little station perched atop a jutting ridge line with stunning views all round.
Most have just passed by – The few minutes the train stops at the station being the maximum extent of time they spend there. Being the 68th station on the main line ( the upcountry railway line ) and located in-between Ohiya and Haputhale railway stations – Idalgashinna is by far considered one of (if not THE ) most exquisite train stop found in the whole of the country. Often smothered in by rolling clouds of mist the entry into the station itself is a journey you would never soon forget - Steep line embankments giving way to rolling scenery spread out as far as the eye can see is what you typically get served along the way.
Built around 1893 when the railway track was extended from Ohiya Towards Haputhale – and consequently being situated in a stretch of wilderness that has survived the human touch unscathed ,It offers a unique Perspective into The colonial era rail policy – interconnecting remote regions ( at that time period ) with a reliable and sustainable method of transport of both supplies and produce ( namely Tea ) from the inner highlands and To the coastal hubs.
The best way to reach Idalgashinna is via train – getting on the Early morning Trains from fort ( starts at around 6am ) or you can jump on from anywhere along the tracks , Nanu oya – ella or so . the journey is especially picturesque past nanu oya ( if you are coming from Colombo that is ). Getting the early morning train lets you hop off at Idalgashinna around 2 pm – and the sights along the way to idalgashinna are surreal-Miles of wilderness with little or no human presence , mostly accompanied by a welcoming and eerie mist that seems to urge and spur you onwards an endowing a sense of wonderment intermixed with nostalgia.
Chances are you’d be robbed of the stunning panaromic views if you arrive at the station in the afternoon hours - although the mist covered station is spectacular in itself – you can hop off the train and enjoy a few hours of sightseeing in and around the station. The imposing cliff face right over the station adds a rugged charm to the sation and is surprisingly enough it is easy to negate – at least partially to the summit( the locals are very helpful and will always point out thr easiest ways up the mountain ) . On a clear day you can would be able to see a panorama that is worth every once of energy spent walking uphill.
If you are not that inclined to walk Uphill or if the mist has come rolling in – a small walk along the tracks is more preferable. The is a tunnel A few hundred feet away from the train station and beyond that you find a spur ridge that marks the beginning of the Tangamale wildlife reserve. A keen eye and you’d come across some pretty rare and Hard to find Flora and fauna all around.
The station itself is a leftover from the past colonial era – a charmingly stout building of thick stonework flanked by a well maintained veggie and flower patch : lovingly cared for by the station staff. The station is almost always engulfed by a veil of mist in the evenings – it is mesmerizing to watch the mist flow from one part of the station- tumbling outward from the roof like the rolling surf.
As the legend goes – Rainwater falling on one side of the station roof Makes is said to make way to the Mahaweli while the other makes it’s way to the Walawe river : Plausible due to the station perched on a ridge live in-between the catchment areas of both the aforementioned rivers .
Departing idalgashinna will almost certainly be by Via train – although there are rural roads used by hardy trucks used to collect tea leaves from the adjacent tea factories. The last train From Idalgashinna To wards badulla arrives at the station usually around 5 pm and the Train back to Colombo ( the night mail express) comes to the station around 8 pm ( better to check with the station staff – they are very helpful).
In all respects – a few hours spent at Idalgashinna will truly let you feel in amongst the wild untamed wilderness that still exists in srilanka . The sights and sounds that you would experience will undoubtedly remain with you for a lifetime and it will compel you to rediscover more and more of the Iconic landscape and it’s environs for many years to come.