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The Nine Arch Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in Ella, and probably all of Sri Lanka. 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.
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 WW1 had broken out.
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!
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.
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 cool pictures.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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”.
Ella is a compact town which basically means all the accommodation is near or close to all the best sights to see in Ella. Thankfully, we’ve done a full guide on where to stay in Ella that you can check out there.
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: