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 a fairly popular destination since the British colonial time and it is a popular destination for rest, recreation and adventure activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, hiking. A large number of Sri Lanka land packages includes bandarawela.
The greater Bandarawela area is much richer in natural attractions 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 cultivation that attracted people into the city. A trip to Bandarawela not only gives you the pleasure of enjoying the great vistas but also enjoy the bit of Sri Lankan colonial past, with remnants of colonial mansions and many other constructions such as Post office, railway station.
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 a 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. The 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 believed to be a gateway to the underground tunnel network, maintained by Ravana can be seen here. The cave has a big opening and gets narrower as it goes deep into the granite monolith, at present the cave is closed about 6 feet from the main entrance.
There has not been any scientific research to find out why the cave is existing there and no records are available on who built it and when it was built. As per the myths and beliefs, there had been an underground tunnel from Dova Raja Maha Vihara to Ravana Ella providing secret passage between two places.
Lipton Seat is a popular trekking site, where many travellers can experience an exhilarating walk with a breathtaking view over the surrounding area. The duration of the trek is about two hours and suitable for experienced and novice trekkers.
Poonagala is one of the best-kept secrets of this hill station. However, this picture-perfect holiday spot is not included in most Sri Lanka tour packages. Poonagala is very similar to Ella, which is the most popular eco-holiday destination in the mountains and visited by thousands of foreign travellers. Ella has far and wide popularity in the traveller’s world but Ponnagala is still intact.
Some travellers always look for something different on the destination they are heading to, that’s the secret of Ella’s popularity as a holiday destination. Ella is not a place to basking in the sun neither it is a place to see ancient marvels. In nutshell, Ella is a countryside live with nature.
The rocky outcrop is dominated by large patches of forests while hundreds of trekking sites, mountains and tea garden take the tourist by surprise. Ella’s climate pattern is another reason for its popularity, which has the characteristics of low temperature and low humidity.
The natural beauty of Ponnagala is a hidden secret and enjoyed by the few families living there. The narrow road that leads to Poonagala from Bandarawela lies on a beautiful plateau, venturing on this narrow winding road should be handled with care, while who undertake this dare mission is rewarded with breathtaking scenery, as the tea estates extend to the vista and water flows into the valley.
Poonagala is a catchment area where the yearly rainfall is one of the highest on the island. Few of the beautiful waterfalls such as Diyaluma starts there journey in Poonagala. When the conducive and serene environment replete with a high percentage of oxygen Poonagala resembles a gift from heaven.