Mysterious Halaba Bridge in Badulla
By Arundathie Abeysinghe
This spectacular mysterious steel bridge is located across Uma Oya at Halaba, a small village located near Uma Oya (Oya meaning stream in Sinhala) in *Badulla in close proximity to breathtaking hamlet*Ella. It is 113 meters (372 feet) long. The bridge is built at the widest points of Uma Oya, approximately 91 meters (300 feet) wide and 7-12 meters (25-40 feet) deep. The two ends of the Bridge are approximately three meters wide (10 feet) and the mid portion is approximately two meters (8 feet) wide.
The Bridge is considered as a mysterious bridge as there are no roads (there had never been any roads even in the past) except a footpath on either side of the bridge. This bridge had been installed by British during the British Colonial Era, but the reason for installing this bridge is not known.
According to some scholars, the British must have wanted to build a bridge at Halawatha (*Chilaw) and as the two names (Halaba and Halawatha) were almost similar, they would have installed the bridge at Halaba by mistake.
Another unusual feature of this bridge is the width of the bridge in the middle is narrower than its two ends. The Bridge is built at a height of approximately 30 meters (100 feet) above Uma Oya connecting Uva Paranagama and *Hali-ela.
This kind of bridge had not been built by the British anywhere in Sri Lanka. According to a small plate displayed at the top of the bridge, it had been manufactured at a government plant in 1919. This bridge can be reached when travelling on the road towards *Bogoda Wooden Bridge and passing about two kilometers further. The road ends at Halaba Bridge.
Wooden sleepers have been laid across the Bridge to walk.
Distance from Ella – 29.7 kilometers
From Hali-ela – Travel along Ketawala Road and go along the road towards the Bogoda Wooden Bridge and thereafter travel approximately two kilometers to reach the Nikagolla – Ketawela Road to the left. This narrow road terminates at the Halaba Bridge.
From Uva-Paranagama – Travel approximately 20 kilometers on Welimada – Uva Paranagama Maspanna Road to reach Bambarapana Junction and thereafter travel approximately 10 kilometers along Maha Kumbura Road to reach the Bridge. This narrow road terminates at the Halaba Bridge.
As the last three kilometers of the Bridge from Hali-ela as well as from Uva-Paranagama are rugged, it is advisable to travel in a four wheel drive vehicle.
Image courtesy: visitbadulla.wordpress.com
- Badulla – Situated in lower central hills, Badulla is the capital city of *Uva Province and Badulla District.
- Bogoda Wooden Bridge – Situated in Hali-Ela in Badulla, Bogoda Wooden Bridge dates to 1600s, but the temple adjoining the Bridge dates to the first century BC. The covered wooden bridge was built across the *Gallanda Oya, a branch of Uma Oya in *Badulla District; a tributary of the *Mahaweli River which is on an ancient route that linked Badulla and Kandy in the past. According to folklore, the Bridge was built for Buddhist Pilgrims from Badulla to cross the rock strewn Gallanda Oya on their way to Kandy to worship at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. According to archeologists, this is the oldest surviving wooden bridge in Sri Lanka.
- Chilaw – A large town in Puttalam District, North Western Province of Sri Lanka and located 80 kilometers away from Colombo.
- Ella – Situated at an elevation of 1041 meters above sea level amid lush green forests, rolling carpets of tea and breathtaking mountains, Ella is a small town in the *Badulla District of *Uva Province. Popular among local and foreign tourists, Ella has a mild climate and a laid-back atmosphere.
- Gallanda Oya – This stream (Oya in Sinhala) is a branch of Uma Oya, a tributary of *Mahaweli River.
- Hali ela – A Divisional Secretariat of Badulla District of Uva Province.
- Mahaweli River – Sri Lanka’s longest river, 335 kilometers in length with a drainage basin of 10,448km2.
- North Western Province – The Province consists of Kurunegala and Puttalam Districts. Kurunegala is the capital of North Western Province.
- Uva Province – Fourth largest province in Sri Lanka bordered by Central, Eastern and Southern provinces.