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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.