Juliet Coombe explores the magic of Diyaluma
You can hear the noise of Diyaluma waterfall long before you see it, and the immense spray covering all the surrounding plants with a refreshing mist that makes everything ever green around it. On the way to our waterfall adventure we reach a row of highly decorated and beautiful Buddhist shrines by the road at which point we stop, whilst Eranda my butler guide from Jetwing Kaduruketha takes me through the ritual for attaining good luck through prayers and donations on our journey up the mountain. I apply two lines of chalk to my forehead and take some photos of the stunning surrounding area. Suitably blessed for a safe onward journey, we continue on to the falls. There are thousands of rubber trees along the way, with their spiral cuts and little tappers with white goo oozing out, in various states of maturity. We also see cocoa trees with smallish teardrop shaped buds on them that will grow much bigger but only be eaten as orange-like fruit rather than made into drinking cocoa. You will also notice endless smaller plantations, near dwellings along the steepening road, of pepper trees that stand like wide pillars with a mass of broad leaves, and of course the ubiquitous paddy fields and coconut plantations, too. At one point, I marvel at how high the coconut trees grow with such narrow trunks, before they broaden out in later years – how can they take all that weight without snapping? It’s the race for the light and the surrounding massive trees that make them grow so high.
Suddenly, we have reached the bottom of the epic falls and, whilst I’m very impressed with the 620 odd foot waterfall and its wispy white trail down the sheer rockface, I’m disappointed there’s no pool at the bottom that we can swim in. It’s certainly very high and impressive but not as impressive in a bad way as the story Eranda then relates to me of two couples who had climbed half way up together and then thrown themselves to their deaths. An extraordinary, sad tale of disallowed marriage and disabilities seemed to be at the root of the two couples tragedy but why did they go to the trouble of getting all that climbing gear and climbing up all that way when they could have driven and walked to the top?
Eventually after more walking we arrive at the bustling village of Koslanda, where, next to the Bhuddist shrine, we see an immense Bhodi tree with its branches spanning both the high road and low road, and beyond. On our return journey we, Eranda, Passad (the hotel tuktuk driver) and I, stopped in one of the kades, Thangavelu, for milk tea and a snack; the Tamil staff were very friendly, the food excellent, the tea very refreshing like the waterfall water we had tasted only a short time earlier.
A little way on, we come to the top of Sri Lanka’s second highest falls, characterised by beautifully eroded smooth boulders and potholes the size of Jacuzzis filled with clear rushing water that beckons me hither like sirens. Eranda, almost hopelessly, looks at me with pleading in his eyes and warns me about flash floods and the big black cloud just upriver of us suggest a massive down pour. The views from here are truly breath taking, especially when you look over the edge to see humans as small as pinpricks moving about below you, and allow your imagination that one crazy moment of thinking about what it would be like to jump from here. Instincts kick back abruptly with a very brief but intense instance of vertigo as you pull back from the edge.
After drinking in the views fully and taking loads of pictures, we start our journey back, though not completely, for I want to have a proper dip in this lovely fresh water but in a place where flash floods are not going to turn me into the next local news headline. We temporarily deviate from the return path to some bigger pools that are perfect and after taking some more pictures and then the rain starts and we get absolutely drenched from the thunder clouds whirling around like dervishes. The rain hammered down until we got back near the bottom and Eranda demonstrated his flying angel act, to celebrate a great adventure that took us to the heady heights of seeing the countries awe inspiring 720 foot water fall, one that comes thoroughly recommended for lovers of natural highs.