Most of us probably have enjoyed a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon Tea; there cannot be any Sri Lankan, who had not an opportunity to enjoy a steaming cup of world-renowned Ceylon tea. But, most people, who know about Ceylon tea, do not know much about this colonial hill town where it grows, and even fewer people have time to visit this picturesque tea producing locality in the country.
Before Scottish planter James Tailor plant a handful of tea plants in the fertile soil of Nuwara Eliya, there was a large tract of wilderness covering entire region of Nuwara Eliya, but with the start of tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya and surrounding areas, Nuwara Eliya came under a dramatic change and finally became leading tea growing region of the island and the most popular health resort in the country.
Nuwara Eliya Railway
The UK-built steam train that plying from the foothills of Sri Lanka to Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela high in the mountains had transported thousands of rich British planters, soldiers, Sri Lankan civil servants and civilians. This legendary steam train is now resting at the Colombo Railway station and it plying rarely on this track only on special occasions.
The whistle of the train echoing for a few minutes the train slowly makes its way on the winding narrow trail on the mountains. The breathtaking sceneries on green-capped mountains, shrouding tea gardens, waterfalls are a great sight to behold. The upcountry rail journey rank among most beautiful rail journeys in the world and very popular activity among foreign travellers. The upcountry railway track is still playing an important role and helps thousands of people to travel from mountains to other cities of Sri Lanka and vice-versa.
Get to the Kandy railway station with plenty of time to grab a ticket to Nuwara Eliya or Ella and wait on the correct platform until your train perch. It is recommended to take a window seat either on the left or right side of the train in order to enjoy the spectacular scenery of tea gardens, cascading waterfalls, patches of forests, mountains and valleys.
Sita Amman temple
Even though Sri Lanka is Buddhist country myths and legends of Nuwara Eliya are fabled in Ramayana. Sita temple yet another reminiscence of Ramayana, you can’t really miss this legendary Hindu temple. This is one of the most popular Hindu temples on the island and visited by thousands of Hindu devotees, including a large number of Indian travellers. The temple rests a few kilometres from Nuwara Eliya overlooking the Haggala botanical garden.
Sita temple is the only Hindu temple in the country dedicated to Sita, the wife of Rama. According to Ramayana Sita was kept in a secret place after the abduction by King Ravana and it is believed that Sita temple is located at the same spot where Sita was stranded.
Ashok Vatika better known as Haggala botanical garden is also a popular place mentioned in Ramayana. Ashok Vatika is also only a few kilometres away from Nuwara Eliya. A large number of visitors arrives at the botanical garden to see beautiful flowering plants and trees but most travellers do not know that it was the Ashok Vatika mentioned in Ramayana.
Tea Factory Visit
Your visit to Nuwara Eliya is not completed unless you make a visit to a Tea factory, because the best Ceylon tea is produced in the high-altitude areas of Nuwara Eliya. Therefore, making a visit to a functioning tea factory is essential and it gives you an idea about the tea manufacturing process. Here you can see how the tea leaves are crushed, fermented, heated, cleaned, and dried as well as sorting and packaging are done.
There are a large number of tea factories in the mountains, however, only few tea factories allowing the visitors to see the manufacturing process, please consult your tour guide to find a tea factory that allows the visitors. These tea factories produce millions of kilograms of tea and sending them to all corners of the world.
The history of Ceylon tea is very colourful and interesting subject to study. However, the factories at present have modernized their infrastructure and manufacturing process with modern machinery. If you are interested in the historical part of Ceylon tea it is recommended to visit the tea museum of Kandy, here you can see the evolution of Ceylon tea. The museum showcases a large number of machinery that was used in the ancient time as well as a painting depicting the sceneries pertaining to the early part of the tea industry.
Enjoy learning about Ceylon tea and different variations of flavours and aromas of tea is also included in the visit. The silver tips and golden tips are ranked among the best tea with a mild flavour and pale colour. This is the most expensive tea variety produces using the bud. BOPF and BOP are the next best tea varieties made of tender leaves of the tea bush. There are several other tea qualities such as BP, OP is also available but most tea factories do not sell them at their shop.
Shopping for Tea
Nuwara Eliya is the home of Sri Lankan tea, you might think that you can hold of good tea everywhere you go here, but it is not like that, because the demand for tea in the mountain is very low due to the low population. In fact, most shops in the city, which are selling tea to Sri Lankan people, have strong tea.
Local people prefer to drink strong tea, which has a strong, bitter taste and hardly any aroma. These teas are categorized under lower quality tea. If you wish to buy the best tea it is recommended to make your purchases at Tea factories or specialized tea shops in cities like Colombo, Kandy. If you like to buy pre-packed standard varieties of tea like in the west you have to buy the tea at the specialized tea shops or tea factories. However, whatever you buy in Sri Lanka, should be in good quality and we can guarantee the quality of tea that you buy will be much better than what you get in the west.
Accommodation in Nuwara Eliya
There are only a few hotels in the city giving you the taste of old world charm. These places preserve the taste and feel of old British planters by adhering to their Theodor styles mansions. The 5-course silver service at the dinner would be an unforgettable experience, with dimmed chandelier, background music originated in the 1930s, and a mix of dishes from east and west.
FLY: To get to Nuwara Eliya you have to travel 170km from Colombo or 76km from Kandy. It will be a long journey due to the steep and winding road. The journey from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya takes around 5 hours and the journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya takes about 2 hours. The travellers who have limited time and cannot afford to have several hours journey can opt to travel to Nuwara Eliya by plane. However, it might cost you several hundred USD.
STAY: The possibilities are plenty with regards to accommodation in Nuwara Eliya. The travellers can find affordable accommo0dation facilities such as dormitories, guest houses or rest houses while other types of accommodation such as 3*,4*,5* as well as luxury boutique hotels are also available here.