Nuwara Eliya (City of Lights)
Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of Central Province, Sri lanka. Also known as 'Little' England'. Nuwara Eliya is only 180 Km from the hot and humid Colombo and It is located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft). City of lights blessed with salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows and mountains.
The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya's climate lent itself to becoming the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in Ceylon. Nuwara Eliya, called Little England then, was also a hill country retreat where the British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes such as fox hunting, deer hunting, elephant hunting, polo, golf and cricket.
Although the town was founded in the 19th century by the British, the whole district is today visited by native travelers, specially during the month of April, the season of flowers, pony races, go cart races and auto rally. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period such as the Queen's Cottage, General's House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, Town Post Office and even new hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Anyone who visits the city can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone days by visiting these landmark buildings. Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, and it is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1 annually in a ceremonial manner. The ceremony consists mainly of a band show in which all the local school bands participate. Main attractions during April season include the numerous motor racing and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs, the former being run since 1934. The Nuwara Eliya Road Race and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract a fair share of enthusiasts. Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlong (1811 m) Governor's Cup, Golf Tournaments and the flower show at the end of the month.
The town's attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities it gives to see various species, particularly the Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The Kashmir Flycatcher is another attractive bird species found in the park. Galway's Land Bird Sanctuary, close to Lake Gregory, is another wildlife site of 0.6 km². The city is a base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. This is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland. Species found here include the Leopard, Sambar, and the endemic Purple-faced Languor. Endemic highland birds include the Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Yellow-eared Bulbul. The plains also has a well-visited tourist attraction at World's End, a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker's Falls. Early morning visits are best, both to see the wildlife, and to view World's End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.
One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This "Little England" is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes. The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest Orange Pekoe tea, and several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.
Due to its highland location, Nuwara Eliya has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C (61 °F).
In the winter months it is quite cold at night, and there can even be frost. However, it rapidly warms up as the tropical sun climbs higher during the day.
Temperatures are 14C-21C (Jan- April) 16C-18C (May-Aug) 15C- 18C (Sept-Dec).
Places of interest in and around Nuwara Eliya
Gregory's Lake - Nuwara EliyaNuwara Eliya Post officeThis lake was fashioned under orders of British Governor Sir William Gregory in 1873. A boat yard now allows visitors to go boating and rowing.
Hakgala Botanical GardensThe Gardens was firs established in 1861 under the curatorships of three British of the same name - William Nock, JK Nock and JJ Nock. It lies under the Hakgala Peak, between 5000 - 6000 feet in elevation - the highest set Botanic Gardens in the world. It boasts 100 year old Monetary Cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.
Horton PlainsHorton 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 nearly 700 Meters, which is an awesome sight indeed. This is a favorite place for trekkers, as there are plenty of soft and hard trails.
Laksapana FallsHorton PlainsLaksapana Falls rise from the Laksapana estate and plunges into the Maskeliya Oya via Maoussakelle. Viewing this fall is easy if you camp down at Upper Glencairn, Dick oya.
Lover's Leap - Nuwara EliyaThis is off the Nuwara Eliya - Kandapola Road. The waters are taken to brew the famous Nuwara Eliya Beer. It is said how an eloping couple, pursued by an irate father, threw themselves over the falls.
Grave stone of one British governorGrave stone of one British governor located in the very corner of the golf grounds. He was famous for elephant hunting and it says that he killed thousands of elephants. Folklore in Nuwara Eliya says that every year his gravestone is struck by lightning for the great sin that he did. At present this place is not open for the visitors.
Seetha Amman Temple (Hanuman Kovil)Seetha Amman Temple is located approximately 1 kilometer from Hakgala Botanical Garden.The temple is located in the village called “Seetha Eliya”. This place is believed to be the place where Sitha held captive by the king Ravana in the Lanka of the epic, Ramayana.
Holy Trinity ChurchThe Holy Trinity Church on church road, which accommodate an old graveyard and most of the grave stones have British names engraved on them.
Devon FallsDevon Falls drops 97 meters and is named after Devon, a pioneer coffee planter. It is 6 Km west of Thalawakelle and there is a special parking and viewing spot at the 20th mile post.
Oliphant Estate - Nuwara EliyaA visit to this estate, entrance from the road at the Ramboda end of Nuwara Eliya, is significant because it was here that the first thirty tea plants sent from China to Sri Lanka were planted by Mr. Laurence Oliphant, increasing his tea acreage to 100 acres.
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.
Adam's Peak - The Pilgrim Path.This is through Gampola and Ginigathhena and you will find the story of this old path carved on two rocks off the 28th milestone on the Nawalapitiya - Ambagamuwa road. The spot is called Akuruketupana and the inscription dates to around 1100AD. Today there are four other roads to the peak, the shortest being via Maskeliya and the most popular. Other roads are on the Sabaragamuwa side.
The Nissangala Lena on the road to Adam's Peak.This is believed the cave in the mountainside, where King Keerthi Sri Nissanka buried a great treasure, including his regalia. It is only after one passes this cave and enters the forest that one comes to the Sita Gangula, a holy river of ice cold water, where pilgrims bathe and put on white garments, before continuing their journey to the peak.
It's a great place to visit if you want escape from the yor busy life. Don't forget to bring a sweater.