Bandarawela is the second most famous holiday destination in the mountains after Nuwara Eliya. Bandarawela is just 45 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya and can be reached by bus or rail from Nuwara Eliya. Bandarawela is fairly popular destination since the British colonial time and it is a popular destination for rest and recreation. The greater Bandarawela area is much richer in nature than the nearby Haputale or Ella that are preferred by many people over Bandarawela. The English writer Henry W. Cave had written in 1908 in his book “Book of Ceylon”, Bandarawela is “devoid of all attractions in the way of amusement” to a traveller.
Bandarawela and surrounding are dominated by farmers who grow tea, vegetable, flowers and fruits while some people are engaged in tourism. In the days of British rule in the country, it was the tea that draws people into the city. Bandarawela as well as surrounding in the mountains were dominated by Tea until 1894. With the opening of foreigners only club (today Bandarawela hotel) in 1894 close to the newly completed rail terminus, the city and the surrounding in the Uwa province became a popular holiday destination among the rich and affluent public.
Bandarawela is the small city and it is home to many ethnic groups such as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Being a multi-cultural city, there are many worshipping places in and around Bandarawela for all religious groups. Dova rock cave temple is an exceptional Buddhist temple with dating back to Anuradhapura period. Temple is just a few kilometres from the city centre on the Badulla-Bandarawela main road. Temple is well worth visit and it has centuries-old religious paintings, Dova rock cave temple is one of the unpopular historical temples in the region.
The climate of Bandarawela is considered being one of the most salubrious in the island. Bandarawela attracts most local holidaymakers after Nuwara Eliya in the mountains. Enthusiasts of Bandarawela claim that it is richer in colonial calm than Nuwara Eliya. Bandarawela is the best alternative for Nuwara Eliya for those who find it is too cold, difficult to get or too expensive. Bandarawela is located at the elevation of 1230m above the sea level compared to 1890m of Nuwara Eliya and considered being pleasant and healthier climate than Nuwara Eliya.
This green city is wedged into a wooded slope and it has a commercial centre packed with a large number of shops. The shops are concentrated into a few lanes mainly Main Street and Badulla road North-East of the central traffic roundabout. To its west, spread out along Welimada Road and Esplanade Road, are the nearby hotels and guesthouses. The newly constructed shopping centre of Bandarawela adds much convenient shopping experience. Sports ground of Bandarawela is a venue for common evening meeting for people of all ages. Some of the landmarks from the British colonial rule of the city make it hard to forget the colonial influence of the city. Train station, the red brick post office, Bandarawela hotel and Cargill’s supermarket are not to be missed on the visit to Bandarawela.
Dova Raja Maha Vihara
Dova Rock Cave temple is located near the city of Bandarawela and it is only 5 km from Bandarawela city centre. The temple is conveniently located near the main road. The temple is surrounded by beautiful vegetation and stream that flows behind the temple enhances the natural beauty of this rock cave temple. The spacious cave in the temple accommodates a large number of historical paintings. One of the rarest paintings in the temple is the one, which depicts an elephant and a cow. The origin of the temple believed to be dating back to the reign of Walagambahu (1st century BC). The granite cave called Ravana cave believed to be a residing place of King Ravana. According to the legend, there had been an underground tunnel from Dova Raja Maha Vihara to Ravana Ella providing secret passage between two places.