Train Rides in Sri Lanka
Rail was introduced in Sri Lanka in 1864 to transport coffee from plantations in the hill country district of Kandy to the port city of Colombo on its way to Europe and the world market. With the development of tea plantations in the 1880s, the joint-stock companies swallowed up the former individual proprietorship of the coffee era. Under corporate ownership and management control by companies, the process of production of tea became more sophisticated and needed more and more railways built to the Kandyan highlands.
To serve the coconut plantations flourishing in the west, southwest and northwest coastal areas of the country, and the wet inland rubber plantations below the tea belt, railway lines were built in the wake of these agricultural developments. An extension of the Main Line to Kandy was made north to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, going further north to Kankesanturai and west to Talaimannar to connect the island with South India by ferry, to bring Indian labor for the tea and rubber plantations, and also import rice and other foodstuffs not indigenously produced in sufficient quantities.
(Ref-Sri Lanka Railways)
Colombo to Kandy
This will be a three hours trip from Colombo to Kandy, home to the legendary Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, enshrining what’s claimed to be a genuine tooth of Buddha. On the way, you will pass beautiful hills, paddy fields, lush stands of tropical forest, palm trees, and miniature village train stations with tin roofs and station attendants standing to attention in immaculate uniforms. The Colombo to Kandy line was the first major route established by the newly formed Ceylon Government Railway in the 1860s to bring tea and coffee down to the coast.
Colombo to Galle is another attractive railway ride along with coastline which takes about four hours from Colombo. On the right side all the way to Galle, it is the giant Indian Ocean which gives you a fabulous sight. You will see the coastal life of Sri Lankans, children and dogs playing in the surf, fishermen sat atop their wooden perch, old people sat on a rock and looking at the high end of the sea. Along this route, you will pass the most popular beach sides in Sri Lanka such as Hikkaduwa, Induruwa, Bentota...etc.
Colombo to Galle
Kandy to Badulla
This is the most ironical train journey in Sri Lanka which takes seven to eight hours, and carves through Sri Lanka’s tea country, passing swirling, curling plantations...etc. This was built as a conduit for Sri Lanka’s most famous export – tea during the British era. Just north of Ella, the tracks curve over the brick-and-stone Nine Arch Bridge before tackling the Demodara Loop where the line circles a hilltop and passes back under itself. Many travelers end the journey at Ella and hike to viewpoints around the bridge, for one of Sri Lanka’s most popular photo opportunities.
Colombo to Jaffna
Colombo to Jaffna train ride is another famous ride in Sri Lanka. This route is going through the ancient city of Anuradhapura. This ride is a somewhat long ride which takes several hours to reach Jaffna.
You can see white dagobas (stupas), Hindu Kovils, Paddy Fields, Ancient Constructions, Lakes in this route. On the final approach to Jaffna, the landscape flattens out, and patches of water and saltpans appear as the train crosses Elephant Pass – the heavily militarised bottleneck guarding the entrance to the Jaffna peninsula.