Ella Nine Arch Bridge

The legend of Ella’s famous Nine Arch Bridge – here’s what you need to know

Ella Nine Arch Bridge is at the heart of Sri Lankan hill country – standing in the middle of this tourist haven is a bridge so famous that no respectable Instagrammer would be seen without at least one image of it on his or her profile.

Where ancient legends meet geological wonders, and the earth whispers tales of cosmic journeys and heroic flames

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Suspended at an altitude of 3100 meters above sea level, the famous bridge  is a testament to railway engineering of the colonial-era. The Ella Nine Arch Bridge defines the very existence of Ella as a picturesque destination for tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

Bridging the gap between the Demodara and Ella Railway stations, the Nine Arches Bridge is an awe-inspiring spectacle that invites travelers with its remarkable functionality but also in its obvious absence of steel a fact that defies the conventional wisdom of bridge construction. It is said that this bridge, fashioned entirely from brick, rock, and cement, has stood resolute since its completion in 1921. Yet, its origins are shrouded in the mists of history and the tales of those who once toiled in its shadow.

According to historical accounts, the bridge’s inception was born from necessity rather than design. The Great War, a conflagration that engulfed the empires of Europe, cast a shadow over the construction of the Ella Nine Arches Bridge. The steel that had been earmarked for this architectural feat was requisitioned for Britain’s war machinery, leading to an abrupt cessation of work. In the face of adversity, the indomitable spirit of the local populace rose to the challenge. Stone bricks and cement became their tools, and the bridge, they resolved, would be made without steel.

Yet, beyond this historical account lies a captivating tale of the Ella Nine Arch Bridge , that has been passed down through generations. It speaks of a man named P. K. Appuhami, a figure steeped in folklore, who lived in the Keppatipola region of Welimada. Born in 1870, Appuhami was not merely an ordinary resident but a renowned traditional drummer and a local artiste. 

The Ella Nine Arch Bridge is said to have been built with input from this villager who formed a close relationship with the British officers overlooking the construction of the bridge.

The railway’s construction, however, encountered a formidable obstacle—a daunting gap between two hills, separated by a treacherous valley below. Firm anchoring seemed an insurmountable challenge due to the marshy terrain. Appuhami, possessed of an uncanny ingenuity and determination, beseeched the officials to entrust him with the bridge’s construction. Initially rebuffed, he eventually earned their confidence through his unwavering support and newfound camaraderie.

As the year 1913 unfolded, Appuhami embarked on a journey to build the Nine Arches Bridge. He deftly resolved the quagmire conundrum by depositing colossal rocks into the abyss until a stable bedrock emerged. Upon this bedrock, he erected the bridge’s brick columns, and the structure took shape under his tireless hands.

Appuhami’s construction methods, characterized by their intuitive brilliance and cost-effectiveness, bore fruit with astonishing speed. What was originally slated to be a multi-year endeavor was accomplished in a single year, and at a fraction of the projected cost. The British officials initially harbored doubts about the bridge’s structural integrity. It was at this juncture that Appuhami made a daring proclamation. He pledged to demonstrate the strength of the bridge by lying beneath it when the inaugural train traversed its length. As the final tracks were laid, he fulfilled his promise, leaving the officials awestruck.

A Legacy on the Move -Ella Nine Arch Bridge –

Perhaps the most captivating aspect of this tale is the postscript. Appuhami, it is said, was offered compensation equal to the cost savings he had realized through his ingenious construction methods. The folklore speaks of the jubilant day when Appuhami returned to his village, bearing four carts laden with gleaming silver coins. With unparalleled magnanimity, he lavished his village and neighboring communities with two days of sumptuous feasting, ensuring that each villager received a silver coin.

Though the authenticity of these legends may be debated, the Ella Nine Arches Bridge itself stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s exceptional craftsmanship and unwavering resolve. Its nine graceful arches continue to stir visitors on – so don’t forget to visit Ella next time you are in Sri Lanka.

A Doorway to Deep Understanding of Old World Engineering –

The Ella Nine Arch Bridge is not just an engineering marvel but is also a testimony of the resilience of 19th century engineers who had neither computers nor technology to achieve the required results.

Visiting the Ella Nine Arch Bridge is something to be undertaken by every traveller planning to visit famous locations in the world.

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