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About Nuwara Eliya ...  

About Nuwara Eliya
Who would suspect coming face to face with England at the top of a hill while getting away from the smouldering heat of Sri Lanka below? Nuwara Eliya, discovered by Dr John Davy in the 19th century soon became a hill resort under Sir Edward Barnes. Though the British are long gone, time seems to have stood still at the City of Light.

The journey to the top if taken on the tracks will put you in a state of delight long before you reach Nuwara Eliya. Neatly trimmed tea bushes, stoic tea pickers who are mostly Indian Tamils, and pretty waterfalls are a few friendly sights that greet you. The chill and the bleak weather that takes over the hill when grey clouds gather overhead, the colonial mansions with rose gardens, and streets with English names: you know why it is called 'Little England'. The old Post Office and Victoria Park push the point further.

Spend a quiet evening fishing or boating at Lake Gregory and don your finest clothes for dinner at The Hill Club which still retains the British way of doing things.

In the summertime, Nuwara Eliya is the choice destination of Sri Lankans. It isn't just the refreshing cool air. Take a break from the crowds by taking off on a trek toPidurutalagala which is Sri Lanka's highest peak. Celebrate the arduous trek withMasala Tea and Scones, a blend of two countries on one tray that you can find nowhere else but in Nuwara Eliya.

Places to See...

There are many vegetable farms and waterfalls as you approach Nuwara Eliya. Travelling up in an observation coach from Colombo or Kandy is recommended for some fabulous views.

The hill station is well known for its tea plantations and chilly weather. The bungalows with their rose gardens, the names of the roads, and quaint English signs outside shops makes you feel like you are in England. The pink Post Office built by the British is a real beauty. The Victoria Park, an English style garden, can surprise you with a glimpse of a plump Kashmir Flycatcher or a queer Scaly Thrush. Sentinel, Kohlmeise, Scaly-breasted Munia, Ashy Prinia can also be sighted around the hills.

Birds love to hang around the Hakgala Botanical Gardens around 10 km from Nuwara Eliya. The Hakgala Rock is said to be one of the places where Sita was held captive by Ravana (from the Hindu epic, Ramayana). There is a small temple Seetha Kovil which is also said to be a place where Sita was imprisoned.

Another patch of peace is Lake Gregory. Go boating or fishing. A little away from the lake is the Galway's Land Bird Sanctuary that was set up in the 1930s. While in Nuwara Eliya a visit to Horton Plains National Park is almost a necessity. The mountains are painted green with tropical trees and grasslands. There are Leopards, Wild Boars, Purple-faced Lungurs and Sambar Deer that live in this reserve. You might even spot a Sri Lanka White Eye or a Yellow-eared Bulbul.

The white frothy Baker Falls and the rather dramatic sounding World's End are two popular locations in the Park. The World's End is a sheer drop of 2625 ft and around it are Kirigalpotta and Totapola, two of the highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The highest is Pidurutalagala, over 8000 ft. The best time to visit the park is at the crack of dawn before mists roll in and hide the views.

There are quite a few waterfalls en route to Nuwara Eliya. The Ramboda Waterfalls is on the road from Gampola and St Clare's Waterfalls is near Hatton. Devon Falls is yet another cascade near Nuwara Eliya. Stop by a tea shop for some piping hot Ceylon tea after enjoying the falls.

Things to do...

Plan a trip to Nuwara Eliya in an Observation Carriage from Kandy or Colombo for some spectacular scenery.

Trek up the imposing Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka's highest peak. You are not allowed to go right up to the peak and have to wrap up the trek at 7000 ft, which is enough to make you work up a sweat.

Play golf at the 18-hole golf course near the Grand Hotel. It is quite challenging. If that intimidates you, stand back and let the pros take a swing during a golf competition.

Drive up to Kitulgala and go white water river rafting on the Kelani River where the Academy Award winning movie, Bridge over the River Kwai, was shot.

Places to Eat...

Rice and Curry (with vegetables or meat) rule Sri Lankan cuisine. Coconut, dried Maldive fish and spices make an appearance in almost all the dishes and still manage to taste different. Every region brings its own taste to the plate. Keep a bottle of water handy as Sri Lankan cuisine is extremely spicy.

Help yourself to some Coconut Sambol (a side dish with rice), Kiribath (milk rice), Egg Hoppers (similar to pancakes), Lamprais (rice, curry, meatballs baked in banana leaf), Kavun (fried cake of rice flour and treacle), and coconut based sweet dishes like Dodol, Wattalapan and Bibikkan. Mutton Rolls and egg Rolls are popular snacks.

Quite a few locals grow vegetables in their gardens. In fact, after tea, Nuwara Eliya is known for its vegetables. Vegetables apart, you might see rose cactus and fearsome lizards in these gardens. A steaming bowl of vegetable soup is a good idea. Off the street, try Chicken Kottu Roti (vegetables, spices, egg, roti are tossed together). String Hoppers (like rice noodles) with Coconut Sambol are another delicacy.


The shopping in Nuwara Eliya is restricted to tea, winter clothes and the supermarket,Cargil's. Around Cargil's there are a couple of markets where you can buy fleece sweaters and other warm clothes in case you haven't packed for the cold weather. You might even lay eyes on a small tempo selling second hand clothes. On Sundays, there is an open air market behind Cargil's.

For touristy stuff, Laksala Gifts may have something for you. Batiks, ebony elephants and demon masks are great souvenirs to buy. Of course, Ceylon tea tops the list. The plantations around Nuwara Eliya are at the highest altitude in Sri Lanka and produce some of the best tea in the country. You can buy tea packets at tea plantations and tea shops. Some of the finest tea comes in ordinary packs. So don't associate beautiful packages with the best tea. Try Mlesna and Eny for tea.



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