Nuwara Eliya the City of Lights
Fancy a stroll through a quaint English countryside, while you holiday in Sri Lanka? Visit Nuwara Eliya and you will be forgiven for thinking that you were travelling in an English countryside. Dubbed ‘Little England’, Nuwara Eliya was during colonial times, the favoured location of the British colonisers. This is because of the area’s cool climate that was as close to home as the British and Scottish could find in tropical Sri Lanka. This is where they came to escape the heat, to re-create a homelike atmosphere, to relax and unwind.
This is why you find cottage style houses, and beautiful Tudor styled colonial buildings, many of which have today been turned into comfortable Nuwara Eliya hotels. And once there you will understand why they loved Nuwara Eliya. It is green; everywhere you look it is verdant green. Mist topped hills, lush vegetation, silvery waterfalls and chilly evenings perfect for sitting around an open fireplace with a beer in hand.
The drive to Nuwara Eliya which means the City of Lights, is along winding roads and through picturesque landscapes. You will notice the air getting cooler, fresher, the mountains appearing, the green forests as you wind along the roads. It is a wonderful drive that though long, prepares you for the beauty of Sri Lanka’s upcountry region. Nuwara Eliya is 180 km from the capital city Colombo and 77km from the historical capital Kandy. It is at an elevation of 2000m above sea level.
Fancy a cuppa?
Today when you visit you will be mesmerized by the surrounding tea estates that dominate Nuwara Eliya. The hills and slopes are covered with a thick carpet of tea bushes and areas that are not are filled with vegetable patches or beautiful flowers. Tea is Sri Lanka’s number one export and Nuwara Eliya the capital of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. Since tea was introduced to Sri Lanka in the mid-19th century the country has been the world’s largest exporter of tea. This is why you find tea estates with enticing names that reflect their colonial beginnings.
When you holiday in Nuwara Eliya you simply have to visit a working tea estate and factory. It is fascinating to watch the nimble fingers of the tea pluckers as they pick the famous ‘two leaves and bud’ from the bushes, used to create this most popular of beverages. You could try your hand at tea plucking, an experience not to be missed. The instant comforting aroma of tea will embrace you as you enter a tea factory where the two leaves and bud are dried and turned into the tea we purchase. And of course no trip would be complete without actually enjoying a warm cup of tea, against the backdrop of the misty mountains, maybe even accompanied by a piece of cake. Tea is magical and Nuwara Eliya is definitely the place to experience a really fresh cup of this magical brew.
Horton Plains, a must do trek
Nuwara Eliya entices you into walking. Its natural scenic beauty and cool climate make it wonderful for long treks and walks. Something you should definitely put on your list of things to do in Nuwara Eliya is the Horton Plains trek. Horton Plains is a beautiful wide open highland plain that offers a trek that while long is not too strenuous. Besides you will be too energized, by the immense wide open natural beauty that surrounds you, to feel tired. The trek ends in a spectacular drop area aptly called World’s End. On a clear day when you look down you are treated to the beauty of a sheer drop from which you can see all the way down to the area of Ratnapura. Horton Plains is home to two lovely waterfalls, Bakers Falls and Chimney Falls.
Unfortunately Chimney Falls is not easy to access but Bakers Falls is, well easy if you are willing to exert yourself a little. The entire circular trek takes roughly about 3 hours leading through grasslands and forest. Along the way you will see Sambar Deer, wild boar, Bear Monkeys, Barking deer, Long tailed Giant Squirrels and the Slender Loris, which are just some of the wildlife to be found en-route.
How about a mini Worlds End?
Another great place to visit while in Nuwara Eliya is the relatively new Moonplains. Relatively new because the area was opened to the public only in 2014, as it used to be a Government seed potato farm. The drive done in a four wheel which can be hired at the entrance, is gorgeous and ends in a mini Worlds End with an observation deck that gives a 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks and towns. Here you will pass wild buffaloes, deer and elk getting about their daily routines. And bird lovers you are in for a definite treat.
Never a dull moment
If you are not busy walking or trekking or hiking towards the nearest breath-taking waterfall, Nuwara Eliya offers you even more activities. You can spend hours in the glory of the fauna and flora to be found in the beautifully landscped Hakkagala Gardens. Seriously, you could spend the day walking around the beautiful paths and walkways or just sitting under the shade of a giant tree and not realize the hours passing. Once done pop across to Humbugs, a quaint little café that offers splendid views and yummy takes on strawberries and cream.
The central Gregory Lake is a lovely place for walks, anytime of the day. It’s a beautiful and calm place and yet is bustling as well. Enjoy a ‘swan boat’ ride on the lake or an impromptu picnic on the grassy banks while you relish the cool weather and lush views.
Nuwara Eliya hotels are cosy and offer warm service so that you can absorb every moment of your holiday in comfort. The English countryside feel, the chilly weather, the dreamlike views, the freshest veggies and fruits and the hub of the tea industry, Nuwara Eliya is a visit that pleases and pleases, by refreshing your mind and your senses.