Elevated to about 2,021 feet (616 meters) above sea level, this hillside destination is derived from Sinhala, where Oya means river. Belilhul Oya features both wet and dry zones, grasslands, low country, hill country, and savanna and montane ecosystems.
Visitors heading to Hill Country, make it a point to visit Belihul Oya, to check out several waterfalls in the region such as Bambarakanda Falls, which is perfect for hiking. A hidden destination in itself, Belihul Oya is loved by thrill-seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history buffs for its numerous activities. There are plenty of attractions here, including Brampton Falls, Paulagala Ella, and Surathali Ella, among others. Belihul Oya is also famed as one of the top biodiversity zones in Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Belihul Oya
1. Pahanthuda Ella:
Also renowned as Galagama Ella, Phanthuda Ella is a beautiful waterfall with a height of 15 feet (4.6 meters), which is also shaped like an oil lamp. Derived from Sinhala, the word ‘pahana’ in Pahantuda means lamp. Situated 1.5 kilometers from Belihul Oya, Pahanthuda is derived from Sanskrit; meaning, lamp.
2. Samanalawewa Reservoir:
One of the famous attractions in Belihul Oya, Samanalawewa Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Established in 1992, the dam was mainly used for hydroelectric power generation in the country. The reservoir is named Samanalawewa (Samanala means butterfly), for its abundance of butterflies.
3. Papulagala Ella
: Nestled on the slopes of Papulagala mountain in the tea plantation of Brampton Estate, Papulagala Ella is a waterfall situated 3 miles (5 kilometres) to the east of lower Hiralouvah. This waterfall forms a stream which is approximately at the height of 98 feet (30 meters) during monsoons.
4. Bambarakanda Ella:
A popular site in Sri Lanka and Belihul Oya, Bambarakanda Ella, also proclaimed as Bambarakele Ella is the highest waterfall in the country and 299th highest waterfall in the world with a height of 863 feet (263 meters). Located less than 12 miles (20 kilometres) from Belihul Oya, this attraction is flocked by both locals and tourists from around the globe which also features rappelling and rock climbing activities.
5. Surathali Ella:
With a height of about 60 meters (196 feet), Surathali Ella is not exactly a waterfall, rather a slip and slide fall. The water slides down between the eastern slopes of Ellamana mountain, which is about 20 meters (66 feet) high.
6. Brampton Falls:
The headwater of Weli Oya, Brampton Falls runs through the eastern slopes of Papulagala mountain, encompassed by monsoon forest. Set at the height of 6 meters (20 feet), Brampton Falls is nestled amidst multiple other small falls.