Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya
Most of us probably have enjoyed a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon Tea; there cannot be any visitor, 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 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 is a large number of places to visit in Nuwara Eliya and surrounding areas. We have listed some of those Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya 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 racecourse are two major reminiscences of the British presence in the city in the past and today they have become important places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. 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 infrequent 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 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.
Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya Sita Amman temple
Even though Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, myths and legends of Nuwara Eliya are fabled in Ramayana. Sita temple yet another reminiscence of Ramayana, coming under important places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, 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.
Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya-Ashok Vatika
Ashok Vatika, one of the important places to visit in Nuwara Eliya that reminds you about legendary King Ravana, Ashok Vatika believed to be the pleasure garden of Ravana lived about 7000 years earlier. As such Ashok Vatika is a popular place mentioned in Ramayana. Ashok Vatika, better known as Haggala botanical garden is 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.
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 floodwater. 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.
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 places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. The national park is located within the borders of Nuwara Eliya. It is a 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 a 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 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.
Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya-the holy church of Nuwara Eliya
Trinity church is one of the most important places to visit in Nuwara Eliya due to its rich architectural value. The 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 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.
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.