Travel On An Important Island System
CEYLON, one of the most interesting islands in the world, is an important British Crown Colony. For sport, big game shooting, pleasure, and historic interest there are few places which surpass this delightful island. Whether the visitor has plenty of time at his disposal or has only a few hours while his ship is in port, Ceylon has much to offer that is unique. Colombo, the capital and chief port, lies on the west coast. There are in the fine harbour rarely fewer than two or three liners on their way to and from all parts of the world, and the tropical luxuriance of the town and suburbs makes a drive round in rickshaw or motor car a pleasure not easily forgotten.
A PICTURESQUE SCENE on the South Coast Line of the Ceylon Government Railways. This photograph shows a section of the 5 ft 6-
The principal lines radiate from Colombo. These are the West Coast Line, running north along the coast to Puttalam; the Northern Line, via Polgahawela, Maho, and Madawachchi to Talaimannar; the Main Line, from Polgahawela to Peradeniya, Nanuoya, and Badulla; and the South Coast Line to Galle and Matara. From Madawachchi, on the Northern Line, a branch runs to Jaffna and Kankesanturai, on the north coast. From Maho the Eastern Line runs to Gal-
The country traversed by the Coast and Northern Lines is fairly flat, but the Main and Eastern Lines have to cross ridges between the valleys of the rivers, while the lines above Rambukkana (on the Main Line east of Polgahawela) and in the upper reaches of the Kelaniya Valley have a series of sharp reverse curves between the hills and on the hillsides. The principal bridges are over the Pandura Lagoon, Kalu Ganga, and Bentota and Gin Ganga Rivers on the Coast Lines; over the Kelaniya and Maha Oya rivers on the Main Line; and over the Mahaweli Ganga and the Valaichchenai Estuary on the Eastern Line. Several short tunnels are encountered on the up-
The total number of broad-
All stations on double-
The Main Line from Rambukkana to Peradeniya and the section thence to Kandy are also fully signalled and interlocked. The single line block working of the railway is by Tyers Tablet system.
THE CEYLON GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS, which have their system centred on Colombo, have 834 miles of 5 ft 6 in gauge track open, and 117 miles of 2 ft 6 in gauge. The first section of line was opened in 1865
A through service is provided between Ceylon and India. Through trains run from Columbo to Talaimannar, whence ferry steamers convey passengers and goods over the twenty-
The first place of importance on the Northern Line is Polgahawela, forty-
Anuradhapura is 127 miles from Colombo, and is the headquarters of the northern division of the railway. In recent years the station goods depot and locomotive yard have been remodelled, and an island platform and modern offices have taken the place of the old platforms and buildings. There is also a separate pilgrim camp station, with sidings and connexions. The new locomotive yard includes a running shed, machine shop, coal stage, and carriage and wagon sidings.
A few miles north of Anuradhapura is Madawachchi. Here connexion is made with trains tor the Jaffna Peninsula, the terminus of the line being Kankesanturai, situated at the most northerly point of Ceylon and 114 miles from Madawachchi. Jaffna is a large Government centre. In the town is an old Dutch fort, a relic of the days when not only Ceylon but also many parts of Southern India were under Dutch influence. The town carries on a brisk trade in tobacco, rice, and other products. The country around is peopled by Tamils, a hardworking and industrious race, but the arid nature of the soil makes cultivation extremely difficult. Kankesanturai is a health resort, with good sea-
THE RAILWAY IN THE EAST. A view of Kandy Railway Station showing a familiar feature of the East, the rickshaws with their native runners. Special trains are often run to Kandy, the ancient capital of Ceylon, when thousands of people travel to see the religious festivals held there. The station lies on a branch line diverging from the Main Line at Peradeniya.
The country north-
From Maho Junction, eighty-
On the way from Gal-
Twenty Miles of Climbing
Beyond Polonnaruwa and about twenty miles from Batticaloa the railway emerges from the jungle, and passes through groves of coco-
The Main Line, forming the railway route to the hilly portion of Ceylon, branches at Polgahawela from the Northern Line to Talaimannar. The station at Polgahawela has two island platforms connected by footbridges, a goods shed, and a depot run by the Immigration Department for the resting and feeding of the coolies who arrive by the boat trains before distributing them to their various destinations.
Soon after leaving Polgahawela the railway begins to climb the Kadugannawa Incline, which rises in a distance of twenty miles from 126 ft to 1,690 ft above sea-
Peradeniya is the junction for the line to Kandy and Matale. In the Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya may be seen growing nutmegs, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and other spices. There are also in the gardens some wonderful avenues of palm trees, all exactly the same height.
Kandy is the ancient capital of Ceylon. Built round an artificial lake, the town lies in a hollow surrounded by towering tree-
At Katugastota, the next place along the route to Matale, as many as thirty elephants may frequently be seen bathing after their day’s work, some being cleaned by their mahouts (keepers) and others enjoying themselves by rolling over and over in the water. Matale, the end of the branch line and seventeen miles from Kandy, produces rubber, cocoa, and tea in large quantities. The railway runs through groves of cocoa trees, the various coloured pods of which are strikingly picturesque.
The most beautiful scenery in Ceylon is that through which the Main Line runs up-
with factories, bungalows, and towns where tea planting is the staple industry.
At Hatton, the next station, hundreds of pilgrims detrain to undertake the arduous climb of Adam’s Peak -
A Popular Resort
At the junction of Nanuoya the tea plantations end, to be succeeded by alternate thick jungle and open rice fields intersected by streams which furnish excellent trout fishing during the summer months.
Nanuoya is the junction for the branch to Nuwara Eliya, to which in the months of March, April, and May all who can migrate from Colombo. Nuwara Eliya is reached by a narrow-
Returning to the broad-
BUILDING THE DEDURU OYA BRIDGE on the line to Puttalam. The West Coast Line runs north to Puttalam from Colombo, along the West Coast of Ceylon. The Deduru Oya Bridge has five spans each of 150 ft.
At Diyatalawa are rest camps for men of the Army and Navy, and Bandarawela is another of Ceylon’s health resorts, to which dwellers of Colombo flock during the hot season. Twenty-
The Kelaniya Valley Railway serves a large rubber-
The South Coast Line is double to Kalutara, and the first important station from Colombo Fort is Slave Island, which is close to the ice and cold storage factories. Up and down platforms connected by an overhead bridge are provided. Farther down the line is Mount Lavinia, a popular seaside resort where excellent bathing is obtainable. Moratuwa, the first combined passenger and freight station, is a watering station, situated thirteen miles from Maradana. Beyond, the railway runs through groves of coco-
The central station at Colombo is Colombo Fort, which deals with passengers and parcels only. There are several platforms and the usual public facilities are provided at platform level. The platforms, which are all roofed, are connected by a foot-
Maradana Station, the junction for the Northern and West Coast lines, is situated between the locomotive running shed and the Colombo main wagon depot. The station building consists of two wings connected by an overhead bridge.
Colombo Goods Station is the chief receiving station for freight traffic and consists of two outward and three inward warehouses and two sheds for the storage of tea chests and fibre respectively. There are also direct delivery sidings, one being at the lake front, where goods are delivered direct into barges. Other sidings are for delivery of bricks, fibre, and other goods. The goods sheds are in charge of a goods agent, with the assistance of warehousemen and a large staff of clerks, checkers, and policemen. The traffic handled yearly is over 300,000 tons, both inwards and outwards.
Colombo Port and Wharf are freight stations situated in the harbour area in the Port Commission premises and deal with import and export traffic. The allocation and dispatch of wagons are in charge of a “Trains and Goods Officer” under the harbour engineer, while loading, freighting, and accounting are performed by officers and checkers of the Transportation Department.
The business quarter of Colombo is known as the “Fort”, in which abound native shops containing jewellery, silks, and curios for the enticement of tourists. The real Colombo, however, does not lie there any more than it lies in the great hotels, but in the native quarter, or “Pettah”. Here, in narrow teeming streets in which the shops open from the pavement and strange odours fill the air, white-
A BRANCH LINE IN CEYLON. Kala Oya Bridge, a substantial structure on the line to Trincomalee and Batticaloa. The ports of Trincomalee and Batticaloa are linked up with the main railway system by the Eastern Line, which leaves the Northern Line at Maho Junction.
Leading from the Fort to the outer part of the town is the renowned Galle Face Drive, running for a distance of a mile along the edge of the sea. The suburbs of Colombo stretch far out amid magnificent avenues of giant trees. The district known as Cinnamon Gardens, formerly covered with groves of cinnamon, is about three miles from the town, and is a favourite residential quarter, with pink or white-
A large volume of suburban traffic is handled within a twenty-
Suburban traffic is heavy on the coast-
The peak periods of the rush into Colombo are between 7.30 and 9.30am, and out of Colombo from 4.30pm to 5.30pm. To deal with this traffic local suburban trains on the coast-
The religious festivals are a great feature of Ceylon railway traffic. The seven days in June during which the “Poson” Festival at Anuradhapura lasts tax the resources of the railway to the utmost, as many as 50,000 pilgrims travelling by rail on this occasion. For the Roman Catholic Festival at Madhu fully as many pilgrims may travel by the railway to Madhu Road. There are also the Harvest Festival at Kandy early in the year, and the “Esala Perahera” in August, the latter lasting thirteen days and drawing thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Ceylon.
The Kandy Festival of the New Rice (“Alutsal Perahera”) takes place on the full moon day in January each year. In the temple village of Gurudeniya, a short distance away, where rice crops are raised, the tenants of the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) have to set apart each year a portion of the harvest as an offering to the sacred Temple of the Tooth and other shrines in Kandy. This was an order of a former king of Kandy when granting the land, and has been obeyed for centuries.
The procession of elephants, tom-
Standard Sinhalese express locomotives are of the 4-
MOUNT LAVINIA STATION in south-
The predecessors of these engines, from the earliest days until comparatively recently, were of the 4-
Recently the Ceylon Government Railways have had some 880hp Diesel-
[From part 35, published 27 September 1935]