Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka – Nuwara Eliya travel guide

Nuwara Eliya a charming holiday destination in the mountains lies about 3 hours drive from Colombo. Nuwara Eliya is a peaceful small city with healing climate. The beautiful city tucked in a valley above 1800 meter above the sea level and surrounded by a rocky outcrop. Tea plantations, waterfalls, streams, rivers, lakes, green-capped mountains, forests and vegetable gardens are the main ingredients of the tourist attractions in the region.

Nuwara Eliya is the well-known destination for healing climate and uneven terrain. It may be difficult to make your mind to leave the city, once you fall in love with this romantic holiday destination. Nuwara Eliya is among the most popular holiday destinations in the country. From the verdant hills to the romantic colonial mansions, grand hotel is a favourite pick in the city for many travellers after long days of play.

As the largest city in the mountains, Nuwara Eliya plays an important role in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Undoubtedly Nuwara Eliya is the most popular health resort in the island and features a blend of colonial charm, modern development and slum areas, inherited from the colonial plantation culture. Nuwara Eliya was an important seat of British colonial administration. Due to its healing climate and some similarities of vegetation to the home country, the British administration decided to develop Nuwara Eliya as a holiday destination.

Nuwara eliya

Nuwara Eliya and surrounding area boast to have beautiful gardens, wonderful churches, fascinating monasteries, mountains, ravines and tea plantations that make the city a top-notch attraction for travellers, who spend their holiday in Sri Lanka. Over time, Nuwara Eliya has been earned a reputation for being one of the best places for adventure holidays in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, Nuwara Eliya is the best destination to enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery in the mountains. As such, Nuwara Eliya is recognized as a must visited the city on the island.

Nestled among the mountains, Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by a mountain range. The best time of the year to visit the city is from November to April, en west Sri Lanka and southern coast having the dry, sunny and warm weather. During this period, mountains also have the similar beautiful and exiting weather conditions. Nuwara Eliya is notably known for its healing climate. Usually, the temperature is about 15C˚ during the day, while it drops to 0C˚ after the sunset.

The city is full of British colonial charm relaxed atmosphere. The development of Nuwara Eliya is essentially attributed to British colonial rulers. Still, the British domination is demonstrated by the Theodor styled building, racecourse and golf course.

Ramboda fall

Nuwara Eliya wasantha udanaya

The city is most lively and engulfed with a carnival atmosphere in the month of April, during the “Wasantha Udanaya”. The city attracts a large number of travellers during April and there are lots of activities to keep the travellers busy during this period.

Nuwara Eliya is one of the best holiday destinations for adventure enthusiast. Adventurous Mountain and rock climbing, trekking, mountain biking, camping are some of the popular activities here. Trekking and mountain climbing tours are best activities without any doubt, during your vacation in Nuwara Eliya. Due to the very satisfactory conditions for mountaineering holidays, most travellers regard Nuwara Eliya as the best happening alternative to the coastal belt and which you can trust without any doubt.

If you love to have warm sunny weather similar to the coastal region, then Nuwara Eliya is not the best place for you. Because, Nuwara Eliya is best known for its mild temperature and it is a popular hideout for local tourists, during the warm days of the dry season in the low elevated areas. If you want to enjoy the beautiful mountains, waterfalls, patches of forests, and tea plantations, you can join a group tour that organized by Seerendipity tours or you can have your own tailor-made tour, if you love to have privacy during the tour.

Religion and education in Nuwara Eliya during the British period

The earliest reference to a religious establishment in ‘modern’ Nuwara Eliya had been in 1844 by the Oratorian Father Horatio Bettachini, Who had mentioned of a church of which had been built by then in Nuwara Eliya. However the Holy Trinity Church in Nuwara Eliya-the oldest on record-had been built on a land granted to the church in 1847 and it is recorded that by 1852, the church building had been completed and consecrated. The church as it stands today had undergone improvement over the years and a considerable enlargement of its buildings had been recorded for the year 1896.

It was later that the present St.Xaviers Church had come-up and is supposed to have been built on a land granted by Viscount Torrington in 1884. Over the years the activity of this church had been consistent and by 1924 another chapel had been opened at Blackpool by some o the Catholics who had gone to reside in that area then known as Elk-plains and now Ruwan Eliya.

Another church of note which had been set-up in Nuwara Eliya in the early 20th century was the Union Church built by Arnold Paynter in 1912.

Commenting on the religious aspects of the Buddhists F.C Fisher the assistant Agent, said in 18727 that the affairs of the Buddhist temple in the district were in the most deplorable state of disorder. However, by 1889, the first temple in Nuwara Eliya the Sri Maha Viharaya at Blackpool had been started. It is said that the Temple had been built on a land granted for the purpose by the Sri Saddharmadhara Society, who had purchased it in 1887. Two other temples which have come up later in Nuwara Eliya are the Gangaramaya at Blackpool and the Asokaramaya at Boralanda. Asokaramaya was begun in 1937, in Boralanda or the Moon plans area by a grant of land obtained by Pieris Samarawickrema from Reginald Francis, Herbert Lushinton, Samuel Julien Baker, John Randell Baker, Margaret Papper Koch, and Geraldine Baker. Building operations on this land commenced in 1937 and it had been completed in 1939. The temples, in general, had looked after both religious and educational needs of the Buddhist through the establishment of the school and by providing library facilities and the like, in their institutions.

Providing adequate educational facilities in Nuwara Eliya had been a rather slow process. As early as 1847 there had been a government vernacular school at Nuwara Eliya and in a report submitted to the Assistant Government Agent in 1853, its teacher Zylva listed the school property in his charge, which gives a picture of the establishment in that year.

By 1859 the church too had a school, with a single teacher and 33 pupils on roll. By 1860 there was, in addition, a mixed school run by the government, but in all these the attendance as well as facilities had been minimal.  In 1868 the Assistant Government Agent Liesching called for the establishment of a public School for European children and by 1888 St.Edward had been established in Nuwara Eliya for the benefit of mostly the planting community.

The beginning of Good-shepherd Convent goes back to 1902 when the sister moved to a place called the ‘Nest’ where the convent was to come up later. In 1921 St.Xavier’s had registered itself as an English school too which had progressed during the ensuing three decades. The Holy Trinity School too which had been running as a school for some time was registered with the government round this period. In 1928 an industrial school was established in Nuwara Eliya and in 1938 was established a secondary school known as Gamini Vidyalaya. During the recent past, a few more schools have come up in Nuwara Eliya to meet the requirements of an increased population. Sri Piyatissa Vidyalaya at Boralanda had been established in 1957 while Sri Vajiragnana Vidyalaya which was established in 1959, has subsequently established a weaving School, a Carpentry School and a Primary school as well.

Nuwara eliya
Nuwara Eliya one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka with many waterfalls, river, patches of forests and tea plantations

Nuwara Eliya City

In Nuwara Eliya city you can enjoy touring the market, where many verities of locally grown vegetable and fruits are sold. Don’t forget to drop into the Balay bazaar, located in the middle of Nuwara Eliya city, where you get clothes especially suitable for cold weather, most importantly you pay here a fraction of the money, what you pay in most countries around the world. If you want to see the stunning British architectural mansions in Nuwara Eliya, take a ride around the race course. You can judge of the luxurious life the colonial rules enjoyed as they were ruling the country, upon seeing those beautiful mansions. If you are just a passerby like most round tour guests and have not much time to spend in Nuwara Eliya city, then a city tour is the best alternative for you. It gives you the possibility to see many attractions within a short period of time.

Shopping in Nuwara Eliya is also a very exciting thing to do. You can see the shops, stalls and vehicles that sell clothes and clothing accessories everywhere. Perhaps Nuwara Eliya is the best city to buy clothes for the winter season in Sri Lanka. And the best thing is, all the products cost a fraction of the real value of those items. Being a city with Tamil majority Nuwara Eliya is a city with a large number of a restaurant to try Indian cuisines. It will be difficult to make a choice for a restaurant here, but you have to try Dosai and wade whatever you choose as your restaurant. They are the top dishes among the local people here.

Nuwara Eliya hotels/Grand hotel

Brimming with colonial splendour, the grand hotel is a mixed bag of old world charm and comfort. The architecture of this impressive hotel is British inspired. Main lobby area was built during the early half of 18’s and used as the official residence in the mountains by the British governor, later it was converted to a hotel.

The interior of the hotel is exquisite, featuring wood-burning fireplaces and rare type of paintings; the hotel has undergone a massive renovation and upgrade of amenities recently but it has retained its grace while enjoying the modernization. All rooms have rich fabrics and furnishing so that guests pampered.

sri lanka mountains

Built in the old British style, surrounded by elegantly landscaped, lush gardens, you may feel like been to a more genteel era entirely. When you’re ready to re-emerge into the modern world, the hotel’s gym, restaurant, and conference centre will be waiting. Set off for a stroll outside the hotel after a massive buffet breakfast to see the highest point of the island that loom large behind the city – called pidurutalagala. Views of the green-capped mountains rising in the distance are a photographer’s dream, and the enthusiast of nature will revel in the Galway’s bird sanctuary lies on a sprawling property nearby. Be sure that you encounter hundreds of sambur and take a glimpse on the vegetation in the Horton plains; there is no other mountain forest similar to this natural jewel anywhere else in the world.

The hotel is settled in an 18th-century building, is not only a luxury hotel, it is alive with history, big on charm and old-fashioned hospitality and the hotel lives up to its name. The guests are welcomed with a big smile and served with a freshly brewed cup of tea with a piece of jaggery to carry on the Sri Lankan style of tea serving. Grand hotel boasts clean lines and a modern aesthetic, while the empty spaces are decorated with valuable artefacts and antique furniture. The grand hotel has striking avant-garde artworks in the lobby and public areas. The spacious, cosy and luxurious restaurant can accommodate nearly hundred of guests and offers a spate of cuisine covering the whole world.

Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is a mountain resort in the central province of Sri Lanka, which is located at the elevation of 1282 meters above sea-level. It is located in the foothills of the tallest mountain (Mt.Pidurutalagala) of the country, an hour’s drive from the popular holiday destination of Kandy. This beautiful city is popular due to its healing climate. There are large number places to visit in Nuwara Eliya and surrounding areas. We have listed some of those places in this blog post. Usually, Nuwara Eliya is a part of any Sri Lanka road trip and it is difficult to bypass this beautiful city due to its strategic location on the mountain.

Even though Nuwara Eliya was in existence as a small hamlet long before the British Colonial Era, it was systematically developed as a holiday destination by the colonial rulers. The British colonial rulers came across the region from accidents in the early 18’s. They decide to use it as a health resort and holiday destination for the British soldier because Nuwara Eliya reminded them of their native England. They brought the British architect across in 18’s. This influence can be seen in the gigantic villas with spacious gardens, built after Theodor style that was popular in the great Britten.

The small town of Nuwara Eliya still has a fascinating collection of beautifully ornate villas with decorative woodwork. Today the Grand Hotel is located in the resident home of the governor of British Ceylon. It is located just outside the town and established in early 18’s. Other than the Grand Hotel, there is a large number of colonial style buildings in the city of Nuwara Eliya. Today most of them are converted to hotels and resorts.

Golf course and the race course are two major reminiscences of the British presence in the city in the past. The golf course was first started in 1889 and today it is one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. This 18-hole course is situated in the heart of Nuwara Eliya town and hosts many international golfing events every year.

Racecourse of Nuwara Eliya believed to be older than the golf course. It had apparently started in 1875. Horses are in frequent action here during the British colonial ear. Today horse races are performed only during the main holiday season of Nuwara Eliya, which falls in the month of April.

Nuwara Eliya Gregory Lake

Nuwara Eliya Gregory Lake owes its existence to the efforts of Governor Sir William Gregory (1827-1877). It was on his orders that the swamp and bog, where the lake now is, was purchased by the government under the Waste Lands Ordinance and converted to a lake around 1873. The major portion of the land-a 15 acres and 3 roods belonged to Captain P.P Galway, who received compensation at the rate of Rs.10 per acre while a little more land came from the properties belonging to the Baker’s and the Duffs.

From the time of the formation of the lake its maintenance and silting had been a constant problem. In 1899 the maintenance was taken over by the government and additions and improvement to it had been seen to over the years.

In 1900, the assistant Agent noted that silting was a great problem faced by them and the town sewage emptying into the lake was threatening to be a health hazard. These were rectified a few years later.

In utility point of view, it became the source of an Electric installation and the source to operate a pipeline in 1912. In 1927, a plan was proposed to improve the lake and its environs, and C.C Wooley Assistant agent said:

Most of the land around the lake is marshy and unsightly. It is proposed to reclaim the marshy land, plant trees and shrubs, and make it attractive. Ferns, willows and lilies will be planted in selected places on the borders of the lake to increase the attractiveness of the lake itself. The high land will be planted with ornamental trees and made into a woodland park. Gorse and other flowering shrubs will be planted along the lake path. Additional seats will be provided, and a belt of trees will be planted along the ridge on the eastern side of the lake to screen Naseby estate from view.

While realizing these plans the Lake has been dredged and extended over the years and many actions are taken to improve its picturesqueness as well as its usefulness. Today, it has also a boatyard and boat for hire, for those who would like to do a day’s rowing and sailing. A beautiful garden is laid around the lake providing a great site for strolling, jogging and walking for the people.  Nuwara Eliya has become the most famous Holiday destination for the people of Sri Lanka.

Other than being an important place for nature led tourism the lake serves the city again for controlling the flood water. The rainwater of the surrounding mountains is flown in the direction of the city since it is located in the lower part of the area. The water is directed to the Lake while keeping the water away from the residential area. The surrounding area of Lake Gregory considered being an important catchment area of the mountains. Lake Gregory releases some water to few important rivers of Sri Lanka that begin in the central mountain range.

Lake Gregory has been constantly improved during the last few years while it is an important attraction in the city. Recently a houseboat is added to the lake by an Indian company. The lake was recently upgraded to use as a landing place for the seaplanes in the area.

The holy church of Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya, the most popular hill country holiday resort of Sri Lanka is essentially attributed to the idea of Governor Barnes. The city was built as a holiday resort for the soldiers of the British army in the early 100’s. It was named as little England and governor intended it to show some resemblance to cities in England. The city was planned at the foot of Pidurutalagala Mountain. Nuwara Eliya expands well over 17 and surrounded by mountains. The British nationals were flocked to the city during their occupation of the country. The city was planned to entertain the British officers and city was given similarities to their native cities with English style building and imported trees and plants from England.

Trinity church came to be as a result of the devotion of English rulers to the religion. The church was built at the heart of the city to perform their religious activities. The church was built by English engineers and all the materials were imported from England. It was ceremonially opened by father Chatman in 1852 after 20 years of constructions. This Anglican Church is one of the biggest churches in the island and the building follows the typical English architecture. The church had been a very reputable church and there are many pieces of evidence to show its popularity. According to the historical notes of the church, the religious activities of the church were first started in 1843. Father Von Dadlesan had been the caretaker of the church at that time. The first marriage of the church was conducted by Father Von Dadlesan in the same year. Since then, for the last 160 years, there had been thousands of marriage in the church and all the records of them are securely deposited in the church.

So far, there had been 36 fathers of Anglican Communion at the church starting from 1843, at present it is managed by father C.M.J David. Today the church is one of the important landmarks of the city. This imposing building adds some dignity to the city. It attracts foreign and local tourists due to its antiquity and people are impressed by the antiques of the church. It poses an Organ that is more than 100 years of old. It had been in very bad condition and not functioning for a long time. Recently it was renovated by two fathers came from England and now it is being used in the important events.

Galway forest, The paradise in the mountains

Located at the top of the central mountains range near Nuwara Eliya, Galway forest national park is one of the most important natural treasures on the island. The national park is located within the borders of Nuwara Eliya. It is few kilometres from the Nuwara Eliya city centre. The National park spread over 70 acres of land and it is picturesquely located bordering the Gregory Lake. Even though Galway forest is smaller than most of the national parks on the island, it is one of the most popular places for bird watching on the island. It accommodates more than 35 very rare species of migrant birds. The national park is inhabited by more than 30 species of native bird species.

The Galway national park is well recognized for its rich Bio-diversity. Other than a large number of avian fauna species the national park accommodates a large number of valuable floral species of both native and foreign origin. The upper canopy of the forest is mainly made of trees such as Keena (Calophyllum bracteatum), Damba (Eugenia jambos), Sapu (Michelia champaca), varieties of Eucalyptus and Pines. Galway forest is one of the few palaces, where the human activities at the minimum level and the eco-system of the national park are largely intact.   Therefore the national park has been able to attract a large number of butterfly species. Many numbers of endemic and native butterfly species are occurring here. Animals such as wild boar, fishing cat, sand deer, black monkey, hare, varieties of lizards and reptiles are also occurring here.

Galway forest is located in the region designated as the up-country wet zone, where the annual rainfall estimated to be around 2500mm. Due to the very high annual rainfall throughout the year, mainly the wet climate is prevailing in the park. Dry climate may occur during the months of January, February and March. Being located well above 1890 meters from the sea level, it records one of the lowest annual temperatures in the country. The average annual temperature measured to be 15.5 Celsius. The national park was first declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. Due to the importance of natural wealth of Galway forest, it was given the status of national park in the year of 2006. By declaring a national park, it supposes to conserve the montane eco-system within the park.

There are concrete pathways in the national park allowing people to have a walk in the park. It can be very handy for a leisurely walk without getting lost in the forest. Even though it makes easy to explore the nature, it has disturbed the eco-system in the forest. The national park is one of the least known places among the people and it is being very rarely visited by holidaymakers, who visit Nuwara Eliya. It provides a very calm atmosphere allowing you to enjoy the fascinating natural beauty of the forest with peace.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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