Ultimate Guide To Visiting The Nine Arch Bridge In Ella

Cazzy Magennis
Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
June 12, 2021
Discover everything you need to know about visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella, Sri Lanka. We've got all the best tips, photo spots and much more...
nine arch bridge ella

The Nine Arch Bridge is easily one of the best things to see in Ella, and definitely one of the most iconic sites anywhere in Sri Lanka.

And since Sri Lanka has grown in popularity this has become a very popular spot, so we’ll provide you with some tips and tricks on how to get there, when is the best time to visit and great photo spots!

Sit back, relax whilst I take you through all you need to know about visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella. 

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History of the Nine Arch Bridge In Ella

ella nine arch brdige

Let’s start with a little bit of history about the Nine Arch Bridge.

It's a pretty impressive structure and super popular among tourists, but how did it become so? 

The Nine Arch Bridge was built during the British Colonial period and it’s official name is actually ‘Ahas Namaye Palama’ which means “nine skies bridge and this is because when you stand below the bridge and look up, through the nine arches you can see the sky.

Pretty cool right? 

One of the unique features of this bridge is the fact that it’s built from bricks, rock and cement.

This means there is no use of steel or metal anywhere in the structure, which is impressive. 

The bridge was commissioned in 1941 and it was said that the materials that were originally used to construct the bridge (such as metal and steel) were rearranged for military needs as WW2 had broken out. 

Other little facts about the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella 

  • The bridge is between the two stations of Ella station and Demodara station
  • The Nine Arch Bridge is 91m long, 24m high bridge 
  • Tea leaves surround the Nine Arch Bridge 

How to get to the Nine Arch Bridge In Ella

views of nine arch bridge ella

Back when Brad and I visited Sri Lanka, it was actually a bit of a challenge to find the proper way to the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella.

In recent years more pathways have been developed, so it’s much easier. 

You’ve got a few options! 

  • Tuk-tuk: The easiest way for you to get to the Nine Arch Bridge is to ask a tuk-tuk drive in Ella to take you. It’ll cost you a couple of hundred pesos, and I’m sure you can negotiate a return rate if you’d like them to wait for you whilst you visit. The Tuk-Tuk will take you right to the bridge, so no hiking will be involved. 
  • Walking: Yes, you can walk to the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella since it’s located around a 45 minute walk away (depending on where you are staying in Ella). You’ll need to follow the Ella-Passara Road then when you reach Sri kanaser Temple, you turn left. Then follow the signs past the guesthouses until you reach the bridge. Locals will be around and point you in the right direction if you’ve gotten lost.
  • Drive yourself: If you’ve got your own Tuk-Tuk rental (which we highly recommend) then you can drive to the Nine Arch Bridge. You can also take a moped. I’ve included a picture of the road we took and some basic instructions BUT my research has indicated that it’s far better signposted today. So, I think you’ll be just fine. 
  • Take a tour: If you prefer to have things organised for you, then you can opt for a tour. This tour takes you to other popular spots in Ella, including the Nine Arch Bridge! So it’s great if you’re short on time. 

Best time to visit the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

Bradley and I visited the Nine Arch Bridge both at mid-day and first thing in the morning, (around 6.15 am).

The better of those two is obviously the earlier option.

Don’t get me wrong, mid-day is fine if that’s all you can do, but there will be crowds, so if you’re looking for drone content (like we were), then you’ll want to go first thing in the morning, and the train comes around 6.40 and it’s a blue one, so it makes a pretty cool picture against the green backdrop! 

When we went at 6.15 am, it was me, Brad, a cute local dog, and 2 children walked across the bridge on their way to school! That’s it. It was REALLY peaceful and beautiful. 

It may also be less busier just before sunset, however, we’ve never gone then, so if you have, then drop us a comment and let us know what the crowds were like at that time. 

With regards to the best time of year to visit the Nine Arch Bridge, I would suggest between June & September.

Due to the high location of Ella (higher than other parts of Sri Lanka) it tends to rain here quite frequently, but there is a lower chance of rain in September.

That’s when we visited, and I can’t remember experiencing rain when we visited the Nine Arch Bridge on both occasions. 

But if it is going to rain, it tends to happen in the afternoon. 

Best picture spots at the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

Okay, so you’ve probably seen all the awesome pictures of the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella on Instagram and Pinterest!

There are actually a couple of different angles and areas to get the best travel photos possible.

On the bridge itself 

photospots at nine arch bridge ella
As shown! This looks like we're among the tea fields..but we aren't...I believe this has a little zoom on it :P

So of course you can take a picture on the bridge itself and this is a cool shot if you have someone sitting on the edge (if they’re brave enough!). 

By the parking area 

nine arch bridge in ella

If you take your photos by the parking area (where the tuk-tuks and mopeds are located), you’ll get the angle that gets a full shot of the bridge, just like in the photo I’ve provided below. 

Among The tea fields looking up 

This is another super popular picture at the Nine Arch Bridge, and actually one Brad and I didn’t do.

I couldn’t find a way down to stand within the tea fields without getting mud all over myself. Maybe there wasn’t a specific route then, so I just didn’t do it.

But I’ve seen SO many shots of people looking up at it, so it is possible. 

BTW, they are full of leeches and it’s private land...so be careful and respectful, try and get permission and don’t have your legs out or the leeches can get you.

The Askana Cafe Viewpoint

Askana Cafe Viewpoint

This is another great spot to get an epic shot of the Nine Arch Bridge.

It’s also a good place to catch a coffee.

This is located high above the northern end of the bridge and it’s run by a local family.

There is a walking trail right next to it (it’s the way Brad and I entered when we walked to the Nine Arch Bridge), and if you head up that walking trail, you’ll also get great views of the bridge. 

When does the train pass at the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella?

train at nine arch bridge ella

If you want that iconic picture of the train passing through the Nine Arch Bridge, then you’ll need to time it well.

Actually, the train moves pretty slow when it does pass, so you’ll have plenty of time to capture the perfect shot.

These times aren’t exact either as honestly, not everything in Sri Lanka runs on time. 

  • 6.45
  • 9:30
  • 11:30
  • 15:30
  • 16:30
  • 17:30 

Brad and I went for the very first train ride, but we arrived around 6.40 am and a train did come by for us.

You can check the official train routes on 12Go Asia for times, and then you’ll be able to time your journey. 

Flying a drone at the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella: all you need to know

flying a drone at nine arch bridge ella

When Brad and I first visited Sri Lanka, droning was a grey area, it wasn’t illegal, but it wasn’t legal without permit and stuff that honestly was extremely hard to obtain.

So, we took advice from the locals, drone away, just don’t get caught….and we never did! 

But, we have some great news: drones are now LEGAL in Sri Lanka, YAY!

Which is wonderful because there are so many amazing shots to capture. 

Below I’ll give you some droning tips: 

  • Head just before sunrise as you’ll get better light and some awesome shots as the fog lifts. Also, you can catch the first train. 
  • Since the trains don’t always run on time, we flew a drone up and left it sitting for as long as the battery allowed, which was around 15 minutes, in order to catch the perfect shot. If the train is due to arrive at 7am, fly your drone up at 6.55 so you’ve got enough time each way for the train to arrive. 
  • Drone early to avoid other drones in the sky too! 

Honestly, a drone is the perfect way to get some epic shots of the Nine Arch Bridge.

No need for trekking into mud, or finding awkward spots to get “the shot”. 

You might also like: Best Travel Drones: Full Buying-Guide

Final tips for visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella 

nine arch bridge
  • The bridge is free to enter, but you never know, they could introduce a charge in the future, but fingers crossed they don’t! 
  • It’s open all the time, because...it’s a bridge, but you’ll need daylight to enjoy the beauty. 
  • If you’re walking on the tracks, listen out of the train horn so that you can get off them right away. 
  • Wear something red, blue or white for your photos. Basically avoid green since you’re going to be surrounded by green. Try a brighter colour for a great contrast in your photo. 
  • Bring a little bit of dog food for the dogs. Stray dogs and puppies are too common in Sri Lanka and we travelled with puppy food and adult food to the dogs we met on route. 

Where to stay in Ella 

Ella is a compact town which basically means all the accommodation is near or close to all the best things to do in Ella. Thankfully, we’ve done a full guide on where to stay in Ella that you can check out.

So there you have it, my guide to visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella.

I should have given you all the information you need to visit, but if you’ve got any further questions, or comments, then please do drop a comment below! 

Check out our other Sri Lanka guides for more inspiration on your travels: 

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