Hill Country of Sri Lanka
The mountains hidden in the mist, rolling Tea estates, tumbling waterfalls and picturesquely located hilltop villages – these are some of the aspects of the enchanting hill country. Hill country of the island rises up to 2524 m from the mean sea level and Nuwara Eliya is the highest elevated city in the central mountain of Sri Lanka. One can reach the hill country by car or rail and it is just a few hours away from the commercial centre (Colombo) of the country.
This region offers more comfortable weather than the rest of the country where the temperature hovering around 15 ˚C. It can be a bit cold in the evening and after the sunset the temperature can go down to -2 ˚C mark in the months of November and December.
Hill Country of Sri Lanka attracts thousands of nature lovers and it offers surreal landscapes, cool climes, and rich heritage for its visitors. It offers many fascinating activities for nature lovers, hikers and adventure seekers in a peaceful tranquil environment.
Whether it is rock climbing, fish for trout, playing golf in one of the most beautiful golf courses, visit a sacred spot on top of a mountain or trek through the rugged wilderness, time in the beguiling hill country will reinvigorate the body and refresh the soul.
The central highland of Sri Lanka shows the most attractive contrast to the beaches and other attractions of the low elevation areas of Sri Lanka. the central highland is a one huge upheaval, having an area of 4,000 square miles, with an irregular surface of hills and peaks of varying elevation, deep ravines and grassy plains, dense forests and open valleys, gentle streams and roaring cataracts a dozen distinct climates, each with its special characteristics of animal and vegetable life, from the lofty palms and gorgeous flowering shrubs of the lower elevation to the hardwood trees and English flowers of the highest; from the steaming haunts of monkeys to the cool regions beloved of the elk.
There is a choice of climate and choice of scenery to suit any constitution and to gratify every taste; the wildest rugged country and the sweetest undulating grassy plains; the wild sport for the daring, golf-links and trout fishing for quieter spirits, and a new world withal for those who need a complete change from familiar scenes.
From the base of this mighty upheaval rise abruptly four extensive ledges, at different elevations, and a number of lofty mountains, some of which reach the height of 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. The highest, called Pidurutalagala, reaches 8,280 feet, and at the foot of it lays the Nuwara Eliya plain, just 200 feet below.
Its position is, roughly speaking, in the centre of the highlands and approximately at the highest elevation. What wonder, then, at its pure and unpolluted air and its marvellous effects on the enervated constitutions of denizens of the low country, who use it as a sanatorium for recruiting the energies they have lost!
The beautiful mountainous area extends the most elevated city of Nuwara Eliya, it extends over the greater portion of the fruitful district of Kotmale, the whole of Uda Dimbula, Uda Hewaheta, and Walapane. It embraces within its limits nearly every variety of climates experienced in the island.
While in the plains of Nuwara Eliya the thermometer frequently falls below the freezing point, and, in the coldest period of the year, upon rising in the early morning, the refreshing spectacles presents itself of the white frost clothing the ground in every direction; in the valley of Maturata, and especially in Walapane, the heat at almost the same period of the year, is most oppressive.
The country so described, affords some of the most beautiful and varied scenery in the island; gentle undulating slopes of grassy plains, patches of forests, mountains and cliffs with breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls of surpassing magnificence, and here and there a glimpse of a tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga.
Central highland the most popular health resort is a popular holiday destination among the locals as well as foreign tourists. It attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year and boasts to be well developed to cater to the demand of tourists. Central high land can be a place for relaxation and adventure. With a large number of mountains and cliffs, patches of forests, slopes and ravines, caves, streams, rivers and waterfalls, it can be used for adventure holidays at any given time of the year.
Kandy – last kingdom of Sri Lanka
Nestled among the lush green mountains and located around the picturesque Kandy Lake, the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, located 500 m above the sea level, harbours large number of historical as well as natural attractions. Kandy is the hub of the hill country; this historical city is the home for the most sacred temple of the island, where the left eyetooth of Buddha resides. Kandy is the last bastion of colonial rulers of the island today it is a world heritage site owing to historical importance.
Kandy is predominantly a Buddhist occupied city and most people in the city are believing in Buddhism, a Large number of Buddhist temples are scattered in the old part of the city and Lake area. The city holds the most beautiful pageant of the country in the month of Esala or July. The historical pageant is named as Esala ceremony and which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world.
The journey from Colombo to Kandy is a treat with fine views of the scenery afforded from the road or railway. One should not miss the elephant orphanage on the half alone the Colombo-Kandy highway. It is the home for the biggest herd of elephants in the world with more than 80 animals in the herd. The Peradeniya botanical gardens another attraction of the city is located just outside the city centre. It contains a bewildering array of local and foreign species set in a tranquil site adjacent to the mighty Mahaweli Ganga, Sri Lanka’s longest river.
Nuwara Eliya is located at the heart of the southern hill country, highest elevated city and most favourite hill station during the British rule in Sri Lanka. The city is well known among the locals as ‘little England’ owing to its somewhat similar weather to Scottish weather, old colonial-style building, 18 hole golf course, Victoria Park, a racecourse, and excellent fishing in the lakes and rivers around the city.
The temperature can drop to close to freezing after the sunset and it is common to see smoke rising from the chimneys of the many Tudor-style mansions. Nuwara Eliya is a great place for anchor yourself while exploring the countryside, there are many treks through the mountains, escapements, forests and plantations that can be used for a walk, hiking and mountain climbing. Mount Piduruthalagala and the forest around provides a great site for exploring the fauna and flora of montane forests. Ashok vatika better known as Hakgala Botanical gardens are just 9 km from the city with a fascinating collection of flowers in the mountain.
Among the most iconic vistas of hill country are the rolling tea estates that carpet vast swathed of terrain in an emerald sea. Women who are in colourful saris look like colourful butterflies from the distance in the rolling tea plantations, walks along with the tea bushes and pluck the golden tip of the branches and tossing them into the baskets slung on their backs. Being one of the biggest industries of the island, tea plays a very important role in Sri Lanka’s economy. It employs twenty per cent of the total labour force in the country.
After introducing tea in late 19’s the industry thrived here than anywhere else in the region, today Ceylon tea considered to be the best tea of the world and the mountains with warm climate during the daytime and cold and mist in the evening provides the best climate to reap the finest quality of it. One can experience the whole process of tea production in a leading tea factory, where plucked tea is dried, crushed, fermented and fired using machinery that has remained largely unchanged since Victorian times.
Dominated by flat grassland, which is surrounded by a cloud forest, Horton plains national park is given a well-deserved epithet of “wonderland in the mountains”. This is one of last remaining few mountain forests on the island, usually included in most Sri Lanka tours. Horton pains national park has a large extent of the forest as well as grassland and lavishly decorated by mother nature with lakes, perennial streams, waterfalls, animal, birds and many other species of Faun. The park is often visited by locals as well as foreign travellers. Most tourists who visit Nuwara Eliya not fail to visit this fascinating patch of the forest lies 2300 meters above the sea level.
It has a salubrious climate similar to Nuwara Eliya but much cooler. Horton plains national park is very rich of scenic beauty, which is closely attached to its Fauna and flora. A long trek through the forest, grassland, water streams, mountains take you to an unknown territory natural beauty, which is unique to this ecological settings.
Horton Plains is one of the most beautiful national parks in the island and one of the very few where the travellers are allowed to have a walk. This is the place to have a safari on foot. Horton Plains is truly a wonderland and have an abundance of greens and blues of lush green vegetation, valleys, mountains, blue sky.
Elle, one of the most scenic places with many sites for adventure tourism is on the radar of adventure lovers. Nearby are the ancient Rawana rock temple, the Rawana Ella cave, and Rawana falls all are mentioned in the great epic of Ramayana. Ella is identified as the site where abducted Princess Sita (wife of King Rama) was hidden by the king Rawana.