In the brisk freshness of the morning, we drove through a panorama of charming landscapes and rolling hills in Sabaragamuwa blessed by the splendour of nature.
Words Darrshini Parthepan
Photographs Vishwathan Tharmakulasingham and Geeth Viduranga
Driving through the endless tea estates of Deniyaya, we ventured along the Viharahena Road as the gentle breeze made our cheeks red with cold. The deep green tea bushes shone with droplets of morning dew sparkling in the sunrays. Diligent tea pluckers dressed in vibrant hues, deftly filled their sacks while tea factories emerged from within the verdant landscape.
As fresh, wild sunflowers swayed onto the narrowing road, we realised we were leaving the boundary of the Southern province and entering the Sabaragamuwa province. Here we glimpsed a graceful peacock perched on a treetop. Along the winding roads of the Sabaragamuwa hills we drove, indulging in the mesmerising views around us. The air was chilly and we wrapped our mufflers tighter around our necks. A simple stone structure inside which a statue of a deity was placed caught our attention as we made our way along the twists and turns of the roadway.
As we journeyed uphill, we were excited by the prospects of what we might encounter along our path. Eventually our ascent took us through acres and acres of pepper plantations, their glossy leaves representing the fertility of the rich soil in the area. I waved at a happy child who grinned at me from a motorbike coming from the opposite direction as our vehicles drew level. Sometimes the road took on a series of hairpin bends, yet, the enchanting scenery of the countryside was enticing our eyes. Hills cloaked in both tea fields and dense forest covers, painted an endless canvass of nature in shades of green ranging from emerald to soft mint hues.
The charm and serene village life in Buthkanda made for a stopover along our road trip. Garden picked vegies and fruits were laid out for sale and the friendly reception from villagers warmed our hearts.
Filled with a desire for exploring, we drove along the Buthkanda Road enthusiastic by the pleasant surprises in store. At one point, we looked down upon the gathering clouds and indeed the view beneath was a surreal experience to witness.
Pretty Morning Glories in bright purple shades adorned the waysides, conjuring a picture straight out of a fairytale. We gasped with awe as the eastern part of the Sinharaja rainforest dominated our view amidst blue shadows of mountains.
The quietude was only momentarily interrupted by an occasional village bus or truck carrying a bounty of tea leaves to nearby factories.
Suddenly, the white signage board of Sooriyakanda awakened us from our trance. The quaint village was sheathed in a flimsy veil of mist as we approached. Located 880 metres above sea level, it is an ideal lookout for panoramas of endless mountain slopes and hilltops.
The highlight of our expedition was just beyond the signage, where we encountered a cascading stream flowing to an unknown tributary near an iron bridge.
Carefully making our way towards the water, we sat on the slippery rocks and dipped our feet into the icy cold waters. This tranquil and picturesque journey offers a fascinating glimpse of the spellbinding lowland hills of the paradise isle.
Travelling along this road is to unlock many serendipitous encounters blending with nature and experiences to cherish.