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Must Visit Locations

Nuwara Eliya (The Little England), the prime hill resort of Sri Lanka

Tea plantations (Ceylon Tea), waterfalls, golfing, bird watching, horse riding, boating, hiking, exploring landscaped gardens.

Must Visit

Nuwara Eliya quick info
Altitude: 1800 m (5960 ft) above sea level
Temperature: January to April 31/17, May to August 29/21, September to December 28/18 Centigrade
Distance from Colombo: 180 km

Kandy-Nuwara Eliya Road takes you to Nuwara Eliya.
Such an inspiring journey as Kandy - Nuwara Eliya Road of Sri Lanka Holidays builds up your expectations of Nuwara Eliya, the city with the highest altitude in the beautiful tropical island. And true to the expectations, we find breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery in salubrious climate. It's hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliya is only 180 km from hot and humid Colombo. And you will fall in love with Nuwara Eliya as did the British settlers. The consummate combination of salubrious climate & the breathtaking landscape is a soothing balm, as Sir Edward Barnes discovered when he was governing the island in 1828 & used it as his up-country retreat.
Colombo Journal of 1833 narrates:
But in the rich and beautiful island of Ceylon, there is a point of attraction little known; and a retreat for invalids, to which sufficient attention has not been drawn. I allude to Nuwara Eliya, which, in point of climate, will bear a comparison with the lower rank of the Himalaya, besides the peculiar advantage of possessing a spacious plain intersected by a running brook of pure water; whereas the convalescent stations of Simla, Missouri, and a Random consist of abrupt ridges with scarcely a vestige of table land on which to build or plant.

Accidental discovery of Nuwara Eliya in 1819
Nuwara Eliya region was "discovered" by a hunting party led by the colonial administrator, legendary Dr. Major John Davy in 1819. John Davy narrates: Descending this hill on the other side, we arrived, at ten o'clock at a spot of open ground, very little lower, called Kicklemann of the extent of several acres, nearly circular, of wet irregular surface, surrounded by forest consisting chiefly of rhododendrons, spotted here and there with solitary trees of the same kind, and watered by a purling stream that ran through the middle of it. Leaving this place, which is said to be the boundary of Kotmale and Ouva, we entered a forest, in which we began to see traces of elephants, and proceeded over wooded hills gradually descending the hills we came to a great extent of open country, the aspect of which was not less novel than agreeable. Our guides called it called it Neuraellyia-pattan. In point of elevation and extent, this tract, there is reason to believe, surpasses every other of the kind in the island; perhaps it is fifteen or twenty miles in circumference, and its average height may be about 5300 feet above the level of the sea. Surrounded by the tops of mountains, whish have the appearance of hills of moderate height, its character is that of table-land elevated and depressed into numerous hillocks and hollows. The wood which covers the boundary mountains (and they are all, without exception, covered with wood,) is of a peculiar kind, quite alpine, and very similar to what we found on the summit of Naminia-cooli-kande. The same kind of wood ramifying into the table-land, and occurring scattered about in insulated clumps, with large solitary rhododendrons here and there, has a very picturesque effect, and helps to make a very charming landscape. Beautiful as this region is, and cleared, and possessing, in all probability, a fine climate, (certainly a cool climate), like the similar heights between Maturatta and fort M'Donald, it is quite deserted by man. ..

An English village, almost.
All these English vegetables are still grown in abundance today. Also grown in abundance are flowers. The town still boasts of fine colonial hotels, along with scattered atmospheric villas & guest houses. The town is also brightened up with luxuriant green spaces of 18-hole golf course, trout streams (brown trout in the lake for anglers), the Victorian style old pink-brick post office, race course & English-country-house-styled Hill Club. The club displays an array of hunting pictures, mounted fish & hunting trophies. Houses with mock Tudor half-timbering & hedges, extensive private gardens where dahlias, snap dragons, petunias & roses grow amongst well-kept lawns are scattered around.
Hills wooded with Cypress and Eucalyptus, gardens and streets of Daisies and Roses, Alligator Pear and Pomegranates, Potato, Turnip, Carrot, Beet, Cabbage and Cauliflower, all these just seven degrees north of Equator: as the crow flies, Nuwara Eliya is just 80 km away the crops of Coconut, Banana and Pineapple of Colombo. It seems improbable. But then this is Sri Lanka, the land of serendipity-of accidental and joyous surprises..

Intensively cultivated field of vegetables
The road out of Nuwara Eliya towards Hakgala Botanical Gardens of Sri Lanka Holidays passes through intensively cultivated fields of vegetables. A short walk up the surrounding hillsides shows the extent to which the intensive cultivation methods have transformed Nuwara Eliya into one of Sri Lanka's most productive agricultural areas. Vegetables grown in Nuwara Eliya are still distributed all over the island. Flowers are extensively cultivated for export to Colombo & abroad.

The time is ripe to reintroduce the little train to fruitful and flowerful Nuwara Eliya.
The key to Nuwara Eliya's prosperity lay in the railway connection from Colombo to the hills. The hill country railway line of Ceylon was extended from Talawakele to Nanu Oya in 1885, & very steep narrow gauge line right into Nuwara Eliya was opened in 1910, but subsequently closed to passenger traffic in 1940 as busses began to provide effective competition.With tourism booming today (year 2010), it is ideal time for Sri Lanka Holidays to re-lay the narrow gauge and introduce a diesel locomotive train or as we call “little train” in the same vein, the same gauge “toy train” is run at Darjeeling at an elevation of 2100 m, Shiwalik Hills, West Bengal on the lower range of the Himalaya. Nuwara Eliya at an elevation of 1800 meters, as Colombo Journal of 1833 narrated, in terms of climate bear a comparison to lower range of Himalaya mountain range. Darjeeling, not unlike Nuwara Eliya, is a famous tea growing area; Darjeeling, not unlike Nuwara Eliya, is a colonial health resort. Unlike most of the tea plantations of India, which cultivate Indian variety of Camellia assamica, tea plantations at Darjeeling cultivate the same variety that is grown in all six main tea growing areas of Sri Lanka inclusive of Nuwara Eliya: Chinese variety of Camellia sinensis.
It was during Sharmila Thagore’s little train ride that Rajesh Khanna followed her in a jeep along a motor road running parallel to the train track of Darjeeling, singing “Mere sapno ki rani” to shoot the Bollywood movie “Aradhana” into box office records. It is high time to call bids for Nuwara Eliya little merry-go-lucky train and put your bets on the success of Tourism in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Holidays.

Sinhalese New Year holidays in April
Even to date Sri Lanka's affluent still rush to Nuwara Eliya not simply to see but to be seen by the affluent during the Sinhalese New Year of Sri Lanka holidays in April. With mountains, forests, wilderness areas & national parks are all within easy reach, starting only 8km (5 miles) from the centre, Nuwara Eliya is a very popular base for bird-watchers & eco tourists. There are attractive walks round the small town, which has lawns, parks, an Anglican church & the nostalgic Hill Club. To the south of town are the racecourse & Lake Gregory. Boats are hired from Chalet du Lake.

The Tea Country
Sri Lanka is one of the world's largest exporters of tea. The finest tea in the world, Ceylon Tea is cultivated & processed in Sri Lanka. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19th century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea country of Highlands of Sri Lanka.

Sports and Adventure in Nuwara Eliya
Victoria Park
in the town itself is good for strolls. Pony and Horse riding is available at the turf club of Nuwara Eliya also situated within the city. Regular monthly races are scheduled.

Gregory's Lake - Nuwara Eliya
This lake was fashioned by then British Governor Sir William Gregory in 1873. A boat yard now allows visitors to go boating and rowing.In July 2010, Board of Overseas Investment (BOI), Sri Lanka approved SAJ House Boat Builders & Operators of India to launch an eco-friendly Luxury House Boat operation in the Gregory’s Lake at Nuwara Eliya. The Luxury houseboats will have all the comforts of a 4-5 star Luxury Hotel inclusive of well-furnished bedrooms, comfortable living rooms and dining area. An upper deck is designed for seating capacity of 100 guests.

Water Falls around Nuwara Eliya

There are many popular water falls around the town. Many could be visited as a part of trekking and/or hiking expeditions.

  • Ramboda Falls - 329 ft. is also an attraction in this area.

  • Devon Falls (named after Devon, a pioneer coffee planter) - Falls drops 97 meters and is It is 6 Km west of Thalawakelle and there is a special parking and viewing spot at the 20th mile post.

  • Lakshapana Falls - off the Nuwara Eliya - Kandapola Road. The Nuwara Eliya beer is brewed from the water of the stream. Lakshapana Falls rise from the Lakshapana estate and plunges into the Maskeliya Oya via Maoussakelle. Viewing this fall is easy if you camp down at Upper Glencairn, Dickoya.

  • Lover's Leap (It is said how an eloping couple, pursued by an irate father, threw themselves over the falls.) This is off the Nuwara Eliya - Kandapola Road. The waters are taken to brew the famous Nuwara Eliya Beer.

The Ceylon Breweries - Nuwara Eliya
The brewing of beer was started in Nuwara Eliya by Sir Samuel Baker in 1881 at Lover's Leap. It is an interesting visit, for the brewery is one of the finest in the island. It's been in business since 1884.

Victoria park: Bird watching & stroll
Nuwara Eliya is popular bird watching country, & there are two excellent areas close to the town. Galway Land Bird Sanctuary covers 60 ha to the north of Lake Gregory, while in Victoria Park, in the centre of town, 38 species have been identified. Victoria Park also has an unusual ornithological distinction: despite its proximity to the town centre, it's a sort of an ornithological hotspot, being visited by a number of rare Himalayan migrant birds, including the yellow-eared bulbul, Kashmir flycatcher, Indian blue robin & the Pied thrush, Grey tit, Pacific swallow as well as Sri Lankan endemics such as the Sri Lanka white-eye. Along the stream that runs through the park are green sandpipers.

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club
Nuwara Eliya 18 hole golf club built by colonial British Tea Planters in 1891 is maintained by Nuwara Eliya Golf Club. The Club & the golf course is open to tourists. The club's facilities include a wood-panelled bar, a dining room, a badminton hall & billiard room.

In the grounds of the golf club are the remains of an old British cemetery. Sadly neglected is the grave of Major Thomas William Rogers. His reputation as an empire builder (by virtue of his role in the development of hill country) was besmirched by his savage slaughter of 1400 (& lost count) of elephants.

Pedro Tea Estate
Pedro Tea Estate at Boralanda, 3 km away, still uses some original machinery & is less commercialized than other estates. There are some very pleasant walks through the plantations here, especially down to the tank and to Warmura Ella.

The Tea Factory Hotel at Kandapola, Talawakele
The stunning & spectacularly located Tea Factory hotel stands some 6,800 feet above sea level, just six degrees from the equator, in the lush green misty mountains of Kandapola, in Colombo-Kandy-Nuwara Eliya road. The views from the Tea Factory are breathtaking.

Virtually a sight in its own right, the hotel is an ideal location for some lunch & a walk in the beautiful surrounding estates. Built in the days of British Raj, it has been ingeniously converted into a five star hotel so that much of its original style & machinery remains intact. Its reception area is where the factory's leaf drying process was carried out, the tea packing room is the hotel bar & the grading & sifting area is the restaurant. The original oil driven engine, now powered by electricity, is still in place & switched on occasionally..

Labookele Tea Estate
The Labookelle tea center on Kandy road offers guided tours of the factory free of charge and also runs a sales outlet and a restaurant on site.

The Tea Cup Restaurant
Enroute to Colombo via Hatton, about 10km from Hatton town towards Colombo. The restaurant is maintained by the Watawala Plantations Limited. The Tea Cup offers brewed tea and snacks in addition to being a tea sales centre.

Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains is a National Park and the highest plateau in the island consisting of grassland interspersed with patches of forest, with some unusual high altitude vegetation. The Plains are a beautiful, silent, strange world with some excellent walks. The most stunning place is the World's End, where the southern Horton Plains suddenly ends, and drops off to 1056 Meters, which is an awesome sight indeed. This is a favourite place for trekkers, as there are plenty of soft and hard trails.

Hakgala Gardens, the highest set Botanical Garden in the world
The Hakgala Botanical Gardens was first established in 1861 under the curatorship of William Nock, JK Nock and JJ Nock. It lies under the Hakgala Peak, between 5000 - 6000 feet in elevation - the highest set Botanical Gardens in the world. It boasts 100 year old Monetary Cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.

Mount Pedro (Pidurutalagal Kanda)
Sri Lanka's highest peak, densely forested Pidurutalagala rises 2524 m (8281 ft) above sea level, immediately behind the town. The path to the summit, which is the site of Sri Lanka's main television transmitter, is closed to public for security reasons. The dense cloud forest which covers the lower slopes of Pidurutalagala is treasure trove of flora & fauna, with myriad bird species (including several endemics) & even the occasional leopard. We can arrange a walk with a resident naturalist at St. Andrew's Hotel, since the hotel owns much of the land. For a view of the summit, & a superb panorama of the surrounding hills & plantation, we can walk to the top of the Single Tree Mountain, south of town off the Badulla road, in about 90 minutes.

Oliphant Estate - Nuwara Eliya
This Tea Estate is between Ramboda & Nuwara Eliya. It was in this estate that the first thirty tea plants brought from China to Ceylon were planted by Laurence Oliphant Esq. The patch of plants was to become an estate of 100 acres.

The Pilgrim's Path to Adam's Peak
This is through Gampola and Ginigathhena and you will find the story of this old path carved on two rocks off the 28th milestone at Akuruketupana on the Nawalapitiya - Ambagamuwa road. The inscription dates to around 1100 AD. Today there are four other roads to the Adam's peak.

The Nissangala Lena Cave is on the road to Adam's Peak Sri Pada
This is believed to be the cave in the mountainside, where King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe buried a great treasure, including his regalia. Passing this cave the pilgrims enters the forest to find Sita Gangula, a holy river of ice cold water, where they bathe and put on white garments, before continuing their journey to the peak.

Trout fishing at Nuwara Eliya
Sri Lanka offers some interesting trout fishing in its mountain streams at elevations of 4,000 feet and above. Trout was first introduced in 1882 by the British colonialist in Ceylon. In the beginning English Brown Trout was introduced to follow up with Rainbow. Nuwara Eliya stream which flows through the Nuwara Eliya Golf Course and Nuwara Eliya Victoria Park is the prime trout fishing location of Sri Lanka. Among the main waters for trout fishing are: Ambawela stream (8m from Nuwara Eliya; jungle and grassland); Bulu Ella stream (21/2m jungle); Portswood Dam (4m; tea estate); Agra Oya and Gorge Valley rivers (10-15m; tea estates), and the Horton Plains stream (30m; jungle and grassland, Nature reserve). Most stretches can only be fished with fly, but the lower waters are open to spinning. Wading is not recommended. Trout fishing, once controlled by Ceylon Fishing Club, The Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya is now taken over by Nuwara Eliya District Fishing Club, Court Lodge Estate, Kandapola. An eight to nine-foot fly rod, a tapered leader and casts of 1x to 3x are recommended. Unfortunately, high quality angling equipment not widely available for hire or purchase in Sri Lanka.

Nuwara Eliya in History: Valley of Rubies
Although Nuwara Eliya was in a state of wilderness when it was discovered by the British Colonialist Rulers of Ceylon, it is not to be supposed that the existence of Nuwara Eliya was unknown to the Sinhalese. The name itself stands in good stead to prove its importance to the medieval kings of Kandy. While the name Kandy being nothing but a shortened colonial mispronunciation of Kanda Uda Rata, meaning the Kingdom of the Highlands, the historic Sinhalese name of Kandy is Maha Nuwara meaning Great City in Sinhalese. Nuwara Eliya, is the Plains of Nuwara. Nuwara Eliya being the source of the largest river of the island, River Mahaweli Ganga, the possession of Nuwara Eliya was the key element in ruling the medieval Kandyan kingdom of Sri Lanka. It is also believed medieval kings of Kandy visited Nuwara Eliya not simply to oversee the numerous water courses originating in Nuwara Eliya but also to superintend the mining of precious gems. East end of the plains were once called Valley of Rubies.

Nuwara Eliya in History: The Path of a Thousand Princesses
Samuel Baker's choice of spot for settlement was a shallow gap, the ancient Sinhalese entrance to Nuwara Eliya from the eastern side. The Sinhalese designation for the location was interpreted the Path of a Thousand Princess. The name reveals that Nuwara Eliya was an area of some great importance.

Nuwara Eliya in History: Refuge
The medieval historical records indicate Nuwara Eliya was of the tradition of being a refuge to the deserved and the defeated. Dona Catherina (Queen Kusumasanadevi of Kandy, daughter of Karaliadde Bandara and mother of Rajasinha II) (1594-1613) is believed to have had a temporary refuge at Nuwara Eliya when she was driven from Kandy by the Portuguese in 1628. In 1818, Keppettipola Disawa during the Uva Wellassa rebellion against the British Colonialists (1815-1948) had found a resting place a couple of days at Kikilleyamani patani (John Davy's Kicklemann) and Nuwara Eliya.
Keppetipola Disawa and Madugalla Disawa were captured and executed at Kandy by the British Colonialists on 25th November 1818. During the Uva Wellassa rebellion the British committed heinous atrocities against the Sinhalese: cottages were torched; property and crops destroyed; women and children too captured and retained as prisoners of war. "No conduct on the part of Ceylonese could justify the cruelly of English" were the words of Dr. Major John Davy. According to Davy's estimates no les than 10,000 Sinhalese were killed under Marshal Law by the British colonialists during Uva Wellassa Rebellion of Ceylon. Had Molligoda Disawa closed ranks with Sinhalese leaders Keppetipola Disawa and Madugalla Disawa during May to July 1818 the pivotal months, the British would have been defeated and Free Ceylon would have been declared as Americans did against the British in the year 1776. Molligoda never joined the Sinhalese forces led by Kandyan noblemen in view of his differences with Ehelopola Disawa. Ehelapola was already captured by the British on 2nd March 1818. Sri Lankans must stand united against foreign powers at all times.

Nuwara Eliya in Mythology: Ramayana
Nuwara Eliya is home to several sites associated with Ramayana: Sita Eliya Hindu Kovil near Hakgala Botanic Gardens, Maligawa-tenne (palace plains), Sita Eliya Kovil (Asoka Aramaya), Sita-kunt (Sita pond), Sita-talawa, (Sita plain), Sita-eliya, Sita mountain and Sita-ela (Sita stream).
Locality of the scenes and acts recorded in the fragments of the great Hindu epic Ramayana written by Valmiki (400 BC, northern India), which are orally traditional in Sri Lanka, have been identified with the some areas of Sri Lanka Holidays: Daragama (Sri Jayawardhanapura Kotte), Sitawake, Kataragama, Ritigala, Rumassala Kanda hill close to Unawatuna Bay Beach, Kanniyai hot springs at Trincomalee, Ella of Central Highlands, Adam's Bridge between Rameswaram at Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu the southernmost state of India and Talaimannar, Mannar Island of Sri Lanka, Munnesvaram Kovil at Chilaw (Wariyapola road) and Laggala at Knuckles Mountains of Sri Lanka Holidays.

From Nuwara Eliya, we can continue
(a) east to Badulla or Ella via Welimada or
(b) southeast from the Horton Plains National Park to Haputale & Bandarawela or
(c) west to Adam's Peak & then return to Kandy, or back to Colombo via Kitulgala of Sri Lanka Holidays.


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Photo Gallery

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Nuwara Eliya - Tea Country

Gregory's Lake

Cottages at Nuwara Eliya

Victoria Park

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

Horton Plains National Park

Devon Falls

The Tea Factory Hotel

Pedro Tea Estate

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