Bopath Ella is a waterfall situated in a village named Agalwatte close to Kuruwita in the Ratnapura District. Though this waterfall is popular with local travellers and crowded on weekends, it is not much frequented by foreign tourists. However, the path from the carpark to the waterfall is lined with plenty of stalls. Day trippers like to enjoy a picnic at the river banks or bath in the natural pools of the stream below the waterfall, though this can be dangerous due to the currents and rock boulder. Be aware, some people lost their lives at the foot of Bopath Ella after heavy rainfalls. But only 200 m downstream, the Kuru Ganga widens and is quiet and shallow and sandy, even suitable for children. There is enough space to bath for lots of people to refresh themself.
“Bo” is the Sinhala name for the Sacred Bodhi tree (ficus religiosa). “Path” means “leaf”, and “Ella” is simply the Sinhala word for “waterfall”. The name “Bo-leaf” refers to the shape of the waterfall, which is caused by the water first flows through a narrow gap in the rocks and then widening like a leaf.
The upper reach of the fall is made up of granite and biotite virin, covered by sand. Bopath Ella is formed from a Kalu Ganga tributary called Kuru Ganga, the namegiving river of the nearby Kuruwita. The waterfall is 30 metres (98 ft) high. The mean rate of flow is 6 square metres per second. Bopath Ella is said to be the most comprehensively studied waterfall on the island.
This area at the south-western slopes of the highlands receives an average rainfall of more than 5,000 millimetres annually, one of the highest amounts of precipitation in Sri Lanka. The surrounding of Bopath Ella is dense virgin forest with a rich biodiversity. The flora includes trees such Attikka (Indian Fig Tree, Ficus racimosa) and Kumbuk (Arjun Tree. Terminalia arjuna), Goda Midella (Powderpuff Tree, Barringtonia racemosa) and wild orchids. The fauna includes boar and deer and many reptile species.
Local legends have it that Bopath Ella is haunted, but that it hides a treasure trove. One such story is about a tragic love. When a pilgrim from Colombo went lost on his way to the falls, a local village girl sheltered him at her home and fall in love with him. The romance resulted in the girl becoming prgnant before his departure. When he left, he promised to return to her, but she waited in vain. When losing confidence, he would ever return, the village girl, overcome with grief, killed herself by jumping into the waterfall. Ever since her ghost haunts around the waterfall. She is said to appear as a floating blue light sometimes.
Another popular belief is that there is an ancient treasure trove hidden in the waterfall, that can only be retrieved after one thousand human sacrifices. Bopath Ella has been used for bathing by wealthy ancient rulers of the country when they visited the nearby Saman Devale outside Ratnapura. Saman, the guardian deity of Sabaragamuwa Province and of the holy mountain Siri Pada (Adam’s Peak) is also believed to have appeared at this waterfall.
Bopath Ella is situated within 3 hours driving distance from Colombo. The hotel Minara is very close to the falls. It has eleven A/C rooms with attached hot-water bathrooms, TV and room telephones. It can be full with local tourists on weekends. Bopath Falls Rock Chalets is a more rustic and eco-friendly holiday resort on the banks of the Kuru Ganga.
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