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Laxapana Falls

Laxapana Falls is one of Sri Lanka's tallest waterfalls and a popular destination for travelers. Located in a scenic area rich in natural beauty and history, the falls Offer a variety of activities for visitors. This travel guide provides essential information to help you plan your visit, including features of the falls, things to do in the area, and practical tips for travelers.

Overview of the Falls

Laxapana Falls is one of Sri Lanka's most significant waterfalls in both stature and impact. With a height of 126 meters, it ranks as the eighth-highest waterfall in the country. The water for the falls is sourced from the Maskeliya Oya, a major tributary of the Kelani River. This tributary itself is fed by the rains and natural springs found in the central highlands, making the falls a year-round spectacle to some degree, although its grandeur varies with the season.

The fall comprises two main sections: a higher and a lower fall. The higher fall is what most people associate with Laxapana, featuring a vertical drop that creates a stunning visual effect. The lower fall, although smaller, complements the higher one and adds to the overall scenic quality of the area.

The waterfall is not just a visual wonder; it's also an essential component of the region’s ecosystem. It serves as a habitat for various forms of aquatic life and impacts the surrounding flora and fauna. The water from the falls eventually joins the Kelani River, one of Sri Lanka's major rivers, which has its own ecological and economic importance.

Adjacent to the falls is a hydroelectric power plant that is crucial to Sri Lanka's electricity grid. Initially constructed in the early 20th century, the plant has seen several upgrades to meet modern energy demands. It currently has a capacity of approximately 50 megawatts, making it a significant player in the region's renewable energy landscape.

Visitors to Laxapana Falls are often taken aback by its raw power, especially during the monsoon season when the water volume significantly increases. Even during the dry season, the falls remain an imposing sight, surrounded by natural forest, rocky terrains, and a misty atmosphere that adds an air of mystery.

Historical Significance

The waterfall has been an integral part of local folklore and culture for generations. Its name, "Laxapana," is believed to be derived from the Sinhalese words "Laksha" and "Pana," meaning "hundred thousand" and "lamp flares," respectively. The hydroelectric power plant near the waterfall has also contributed to the country's industrial growth since the early 20th century.


Height and Volume

Laxapana Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in Sri Lanka, boasting a height of 126 meters. The cascade has a width that varies depending on the season and the water flow. During the monsoon, the width can expand, giving the waterfall an even more imposing appearance. The flow rate also varies but is generally at its peak during the rainy season, which adds to its awe-inspiring aura.

Hydroelectric Power Plant

The hydroelectric plant near Laxapana Falls is an engineering marvel that plays a pivotal role in the country's energy infrastructure. Initially constructed in the early 20th century, the facility has undergone multiple upgrades to keep pace with growing energy demands. The plant currently operates with a capacity of approximately 50 megawatts. The dam associated with the plant also helps in flood control and irrigation, serving multiple functions for the region.

Natural Surroundings

The area around Laxapana Falls is abundant in natural beauty and biodiversity. The forests are home to an array of plant species, including ferns, mosses, and various kinds of trees, which make the environment rich and vibrant.

The fauna is equally diverse, with various mammals such as monkeys and deer often spotted in the vicinity. The region is also a habitat for numerous insects and amphibians, contributing to the ecological importance of the area.

Geological Features

The geological aspects of Laxapana Falls are worth noting. The waterfall flows over several rock formations that are predominantly metamorphic, shaped by natural processes over millions of years. These rocks offer not just a rugged beauty but also provide insight into the geological history of the region.


Laxapana Falls is accessible through well-marked trails, offering options for both amateur and experienced hikers. The trails are generally well-maintained but can get slippery during the rainy season. Viewing platforms have been constructed to offer visitors the best views of the waterfall, providing a convenient and safe way to appreciate its beauty.

Things to Do Around Laxapana Falls


Laxapana Falls presents multiple opportunities for photography enthusiasts. The cascade, its surrounding forests, and the rich biodiversity offer a variety of subjects. Specific vantage points along the hiking trails and viewing platforms are ideal spots for capturing the falls in all its glory. The early morning mist and the golden hours of sunset offer particularly good lighting conditions.


The area around Laxapana Falls offers several hiking trails, each with varying levels of difficulty. These trails lead to different viewpoints, some of which provide a full view of both the higher and lower falls. Each trail has its own unique attractions, from smaller streams to rich vegetation. Hiking allows you to experience the natural beauty up close and is a must-do for adventure enthusiasts.

Bird Watching

For birdwatchers, the area around Laxapana Falls is a paradise. Various indigenous bird species inhabit the region. Bring binoculars to make the most of this experience. Early morning is generally the best time for bird watching, as many species are most active during this period.


The base of Laxapana Falls has a natural pool where you can enjoy a relaxing swim. The water is cool and offers a pleasant experience, especially after a hike. However, swimming here is advised only for strong swimmers, and even they should exercise extreme caution due to the currents.


The areas surrounding the falls offer suitable spots for a picnic. Many visitors bring a packed lunch to enjoy in the natural setting. If you choose to picnic, remember to clean up after yourself to maintain the area's natural beauty.

Location and How to Get There

Laxapana Falls is located near the town of Maskeliya in the Nuwara Eliya District. It is approximately 102 kilometers away from Colombo.

By Car

The most convenient way to reach the falls is by car. The journey from Colombo takes around 3 hours.

By Public Transport

Public buses and trains offer routes that go near the falls, but you will have to hire a tuk-tuk or walk the last stretch of the journey.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Laxapana Falls is from September to December. During this period, the weather is relatively stable, and the water levels are water levels are manageable for activities like swimming.

Tips and Advice

  • Safety First: Exercise extreme caution near the falls and the pool area. Follow all posted safety signs and guidelines.
  • Footwear: Wear sturdy, non-slip shoes suitable for hiking and navigating slippery surfaces.
  • Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide familiar with the trails and safe swimming spots, which can enhance your experience and safety.
  • Weather Check: Before your visit, check the weather forecast. Conditions can change rapidly, and it's good to be prepared.
  • Early Arrival: Try to arrive early, especially during weekends or holidays, as the area can get crowded.
  • Snacks: Pack some light snacks or energy bars, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time hiking or exploring.
  • Photography Gear: If you're into photography, don't forget your camera and any other equipment like tripods or lenses. The natural lighting conditions can vary, so adjustable settings are beneficial.
  • Help Protect the Environment: Carry a trash bag to pack out all your waste, and leave the environment as pristine as you found it.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Adam's Peak: This is one of Sri Lanka's most famous pilgrimage sites. The mountain offers a challenging hike, but the panoramic views from the summit are highly rewarding. The area has religious significance and attracts visitors from various faiths.
  2. Aberdeen Falls: Located not far from Laxapana Falls, Aberdeen Falls offers a picturesque setting ideal for photography and relaxation.
  3. Kitulgala: If you're an adrenaline junkie, Kitulgala is the place for you. Known for white-water rafting, the area offers a variety of adventure sports and activities. The Kelani River running through Kitulgala provides the perfect setting for these water-based activities.
  4. St. Clair's Falls: Often referred to as the "Little Niagara of Sri Lanka," St. Clair's Falls is divided into two sections: "Maha Ella" and "Kuda Ella." Both offer unique scenic beauty, making it a popular stop for tourists. There are viewpoints and tea shops where you can enjoy the view.
  5. Devon Falls: This waterfall is located along the same highway as St. Clair's Falls and offers another beautiful natural setting. A popular stopover for those traveling in the region, Devon Falls offers excellent photo opportunities and is visible from the main road, making it easily accessible.

Laxapana Falls is not just a destination but an experience that encapsulates the natural and cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. A visit here offers an enriching journey that transcends traditional sightseeing, inviting you to engage with both the land and its heritage in a deeply meaningful way.

This post first appeared on Wonders Of Ceylon, please read the originial post: here

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