The mountains of Sri Lanka abound with waterfalls of exquisite beauty.

The island is blessed with 103 rivers and streams radiating from the central hills, rushing down rocky precipices forming a number of roaring waterfalls of various shapes and heights, all ending up loosing the momentum at the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka, in comparison to its size, has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country in the world. Indeed, there are nearly 100 in Sri Lanka over 5-10 metres, the largest being no less than 263 metres high. Featured here, however, is the second highest, the Diyaluma Falls, at 220 metres. Several factors are necessary for such an abundance of waterfalls. First, the geological formation of the land has to be such that there is a sharp upthrust of the earth's surface resulting in precipitous edges. Second, the rivers should flow over a hard rock face to minimise erosion. There is an exception featured here, the Ravana Falls, which flows over khondalite, a kind of limestone, and thus erosion is discernible. Third, there should be plenty of rainfall to swell the rivers. In Sri Lanka all these factors are satisfied in the central highlands.

Usually waterfalls fall into a pool. A typical example of this in Sri Lanka is the Dunhinda Falls. In certain cases, where the waterfall is very high and the volume of water is small, the water disintegrates into mist or spray before it reaches the bottom. Many of Sri Lanka's waterfalls come under this category, particularly during the dry season. Some waterfalls fall onto massive rocks at the base so that the weight of the water is broken on them to spectacular effect. A typical example of this is the aforementioned Diyaluma Falls.

It is a universal phenomenon that waterfalls often have legends attached to them, and Sri Lanka is no exception. There are often common elements to these legends, too. For instance, the existence of a secret cave behind the veil of water, in which is stashed fabulous treasure. Sometimes waterfalls are associated with tragedy. More often than not they become the venue of a joint suicide by two ill-fated lovers, such as is the case with the Dunhinda Falls.







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