St. Clair's Falls | Small Niagara of Sri Lanka

St. Clair's Falls is a waterfall cascading in Talawakele. It is also called by some the small Niagara of Sri Lanka since it is the widest waterfall.
St. Clair's Falls

St. Clair's Falls (Sinhala: සෙන්ට් ක්ලෙයාර්ස් ඇල්ල; Tamil: செயிண்ட் கிளையார் அருவி) is a waterfall cascading in Talawakele in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka. The fall is also called by some the small Niagara of Sri Lanka since it is considered the widest waterfall in the country (Abeywardana, 2004). The fall can be seen from the Hatton-Talawakele Highway near the 84 km post (Abeywardhana, 2004).

The Falls

The fall originates from Kotmale Oya, a tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga River, and occurs 1,076.92 m above sea level (Abeywardhana, 2004). It consists of two falls called Greater and Lesser St. Clair's Falls and cascade 80 m and 50 m respectively (Briggs, 2018). It forms three tiers and the cascading water is filled into a large pond (Abeywardhana, 2004).

Upper Kotamale Hydropower Project

St. Clair's Falls is one of the waterfalls affected by the Upper Kotamale Hydropower Project [(UKHP) Ranawake, 2011]. The project is located in the south-central mountains of Sri Lanka in the Kotmale Oya basin (Nandalal, 2007).

From the initial project proposal, it was identified that six aesthetically important waterfalls were to be dried up due to the project (Nandalal, 2007).  The significant reduction of water flow over Saint Clair waterfall was among the key issues to be considered. In 2003, the Sri Lankan Government published a gazette notification regulating the release of water from the future reservoir, to preserve and maintain the aesthetic value of the waterfall (Ranawake, 2011). The gazette has proposed to release 47,250 cubic meters of water over the falls for 10 hours and 30 minutes daily, between sunrise and sunset (Gazette Extraordinary, 2003).

In 2005, the government decided to carry out the project with a modified plan which will only affect St. Clair's waterfall (Nandalal, 2007). During the construction phase, a special valve was proposed to be installed near the bottom outlet of the dam to meet the conditions specified for the waterfall in the gazette (Ranawake, 2011).

St. Clair's Falls St. Clair's Falls


1) Abeywardhana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.241.
2) Briggs, P., 2018. Sri Lanka. Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN: 9781784770570. p.413.
3) Nandalal, H.K., 2007. Importance of Public Participation in Project Implementation: Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project in Sri Lanka. International Conference on Small Hydropower-Hydro Sri Lanka. pp.1-7.
4) Ranawake, R.A.L., 2011. Waterfall maintenance of the upper Kotmale hydropower project. University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.
5) Gazette Extraordinary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1283/19. 10 April 2003. p.4A.


1) StClairsFalls-Srilanka-April2011 by Rehman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) St.ClairsFalls-Srilanka by Chamal N is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
3) St. Clair Falls - panoramio by Alexey Komarov is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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This page was last updated on 10 September 2023

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