DIYALUMA Falls : SRI LANKÁS LIQUID LIGHT – by Juliet Coombe
On the way to our waterfall adventure we reach a row of highly decorated and beautiful Buddhist shrines by the road at which point we stop, and do a ritual to protect us on our journey up the mountain. A coin is posted, a short prayer made and we all apply two lines of chalk to our foreheads. Suitably blessed for a safe onward journey, we continue on through one plantation after
another. There are thousands of rubber trees along the way, with their spiral cuts and little tappers with white goo oozing out, in various states of maturity. We also see cocoa trees with smallish teardrop shaped buds on them that will grow much bigger but only be eaten as orange-like fruit rather than made into drinking cocoa. You will also
notice endless smaller plantations, near dwellings along the steepening road, of pepper trees that stand like
wide pillars with a mass of broad leaves, and of course the ubiquitous paddy fields and coconut plantations, too. At one point, I marvel at how high the coconut trees grow with such narrow trunks, before they broaden out in later years – how can they take all that weight without snapping? It’s the race for the light and the surrounding massive trees that make them grow so high I learn from a passing coconut seller who sells us a number of them to keeps us fully hydrated.
Suddenly, we have reached the bottom of the falls and, whilst I’m very impressed with the 620 odd foot waterfall Diyaluma, which literally means rapid flow of water. I am mesmerised by its wispy white trail down the sheer rockface, like all falls there is an extraordinary, sad tales of adventurers, as well as disallowed marriages that resulted in couples tragically taking their life in Sri Lanka’s second largest falls. I wonder why they went to the trouble of getting all that climbing gear and then jumping to their tragic deaths from the top? Onwards we go as more stories about the majestic, awe inspiring waterfall are told.
Eventually we arrive at the bustling village of Koslanda, where, next to the Bhuddist shrine, we see an immense Bhodi tree with its branches spanning both the high road and low road, and beyond. On our return journey we, stopped in one of the kades, Thangavelu, for tea and a snack; the Tamil staff were very friendly, the food excellent, the tea very refreshing and all for less than
half the price of a Starbucks espresso with your name on it After a bit more driving we finally arrive near the top of the mountainside where the track ends and the walk begins. As we trek round the mountain, we come out to the most superb view across a horizon of hazy hills and forested valleys and stand there gazing motionless for some time, viewing the distant hills and variety of birth life through our binoculars. Besides many beautiful birds, we see a black and white horny lizard next to the path, which is so sleepy I am able to get a close up of its majestic head. Despite being so high up I see elephant poo and am told if we see one we must stay absolutely still as they can get angry and charge. As we traverse around the top of the mountain we descend past a lemon grass patch to views of smaller waterfalls set in completely unspoilt wild surroundings that almost look savannah-like. I half expect to see a group of leopards basking in the midday sun, amongst the grassy tufts near large elephantine rocks that dot the countryside like sleeping dinosaurs.
A little way on, we come to the top of Sri Lanka’s second highest falls, characterised by beautifully eroded smooth boulders and potholes the size of Jacuzzis filled with clear rushing water that beckons me hither like sirens. Despite the serene beauty the big black cloud just upriver of us suggest a massive down pour and swimming is at ones own risk as it can be extremely dangerous. The views from here are truly breath taking, especially when you look over the edge to see humans as small as pinpricks moving about below you, and allow your imagination that one crazy moment of thinking about what it would be like to jump from here. Instincts kick back abruptly with a very brief but intense instance of vertigo as you pull back from looking over the edge at the epic scenery.
After taking more pictures and drinking in the views fully, we start our journey back, though not completely, for I want to have a proper dip in this lovely fresh water but in a place where flash floods are not going to turn me into the next local news headline. We temporarily deviate from the return path to some bigger pools that are perfect, the rain starts and we get absolutely drenched from the thunder clouds whirling around like dervishes above us. The rain hammered down until we got back near the bottom and we celebrate a great adventure with mill tea that took us to the heady heights of seeing the countries awe inspiring 720 foot water fall, one that comes thoroughly recommended for lovers of nature in all its forms.