The Nuwara Eliya ‘season’ is begins in April, being very warm in Colombo, many prefer to go to the hills and enjoy the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya situated 6,182 feet (1,884 meters) above sea level. There are many hotels and guest houses for the visitors to stay. Many activities are planned during the season to keep them busy.
Nuwara Eliya - Little England in Sri Lanka
To go back to the history of Nuwara Eliya, it was ‘discovered’ during the time of the British rule in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). It is recorded that in 1819 a British hunting party found the place. By 1825, Nuwara Eliya was accepted as a health resort and came to be known as a ‘hill station’.
In 1846, a well-known British explorer, Sir Samuel Baker (he is best known for his Nile discoveries) fell under its spell when he spent two weeks convalescing from malaria and planned to make it his home. He returned two years later and built a mini English country town including a bailiff (an official like the present day Mayor), famous English cows, sheep and even a blacksmith and a forge.
The stuff had been taken up in bullock wagons and elephant carts. It did not take much time for Nuwara Eliya to be accepted as the first among the country’s hill resorts. The beautiful scenery among the hills, the cool climate, ideal ground conditions to grow flowers and vegetables - all these made it a popular resort.
The houses that were built in the early days were typically ‘Old English’. The architectural designs were based on what was then popular in England. Each one had a garden in the best English tradition with immaculate lawn and box hedges.
Fishing being a popular hobby among the Englishmen, they painstakingly imported milt and hatched brown and rainbow trout and filled the streams around Nuwara Eliya. Golf being their favourite sport, a beautiful 18-hole golf course was built. It remains a very popular spot among both local and foreign golfers and is considered as one of the most scenic golf courses in the world.
The Hill Club - the gray stone mansion on a low hill overlooking the golf course - remains as it looked when originally built in 1876. Mounted heads of leopards, boar and wild animals stare at you from the polished oak walls. The Grand Hotel has also been built in the old English tradition. The post office is authentic English - so is the Anglican church in the town.
Golf Club Nuwara Eliya
In the middle of the town is the Victoria Park which boasts of lovely flower beds. Close by is the race course which becomes active in April. A little beyond is Lake Gregory where there is boating.
Some of the best tea plantations in Sri Lanka are in Nuwara Eliya. They are a treat to the eye giving the impression of a thick green carpet being laid in a vast area.
Nuwara Eliya is at the foot of Pidurutalagala, which offers a pleasant climb to hikers. It’s not a difficult climb though Mt Pedro is the highest point (8,281 ft-2,524m) in the Island. One can reach the summit in about two hours.
Hakgala Botanical Gardens is only a few miles away and is well-known for its collection of roses and ferns. Originally it was an experimental cinchona plantation for the production of the malaria antidote quinine set up in 1860.
From Nuwara Eliya, one can also get to Horton Plains and from there walk to the World’s End, considered the finest view in all of Sri Lanka. Of course, it’s on a clear day that one can get the best view. The deep precipice drops vertically for about 1,000 feet (328 meters) and falls away almost as steeply for another 4,000 ft (1,312m) and is a breathtaking sight.
Nuwara Eliya Post Office