Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya
Despite its a small area, the small town of Nuwara Eliya has maintained its importance throughout the decades and remains to date one of the most popular visitor spots. The main reason why people wish to visit this “Little England”, as it is sometimes called, is because of its simplistic atmosphere and traditional look and feel. The reason it is referred to as “Little England” is that it still retains the old British buildings, Tudor era architecture and tea houses (understandable because of the famous tea plantations here: more about that later). The city’s name “Nuwara Eliya” is usually translated as the “City on the plain” or “City of Light”. Being situated on higher altitude in the hill country of Central Province, the climate is usually chilly to moderate in the town; all the more reason for busy urban-life citizens of Sri Lanka to escape this small paradise for a temporary retreat from the hustle bustle of urban life. So let us begin to shed some light on the this “City of Light” and know some beautiful Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya on the trip.
For the love of Tea
If you haven’t already heard of the famous tree plantations near Nuwara Eliya, well, now you know. Nuwara Eliya is famous for its tea factories and remains a point of interest for many a tourist. Here we will be mentioning the names of the three tea factories, without going into much details about each.
1) Blue Fields Tea Factory
One of the best tea factories to visit are the Blue Fields Tea Factory, which is in Ramboda (near Nuwara Eliya). The local guides are known to be very knowledgeable and informative for foreign tourists. You are allowed to walk around inside the tea fields and mingle with the local women who are pluck tea leaves (and take a few selfies in exchange for small tips too). The view of the surrounding mountains is spectacular too here.
2) Damro Tea (formerly Macbook)
Another cool tea factory to visit is the Damro Tea. The views here are amazing as well, particularly of the vast tea fields themselves. But, unfortunately for you, you aren’t allowed to enter the tea fields per se.
3) Pedro Tea Factory
This one is a little different from the previous two. Located about 3 km east of the main town, the Pedro Tea has a policy of disallowing photography inside the factory. Private tours around the facility cost moderate to slightly high fares. Around the time this blog post was written, the costs were normally between LKR. 450 – 550. Also, if you do plan to visit there, be warned that most of the processing of tea leaves is done during the cool temperatures of the night, apparently because only light tea is manufactured here. So you might not see a lot of action here as regards machine work. However, Pedro Tea fulfils its share of aesthetic beauty nonetheless.
Water in the hole – or in the Fall
Let’s talk about waterfalls now, of which there are several in Nuwara Eliya. We shall only be mentioning the top 4 waterfalls of Nuwara Eliya.
1) St. Clair’s Falls
Awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor, St. Claire Falls remains one of the most popular tourist waterfall destinations for relaxation and landscaping. The foamy, sparkly waters, the steps and the many rapids as well as the green scenic landscape are a sure recipe for taking your love of nature to a whole new level.
2) Lover’s Leap Falls
A comparatively smaller waterfall area than the St. Claire’s perhaps, but this one has its own pros as well. For instance, many visitors have reported that there is easy movement and a small amount of hiking required there. Some even say that a local guide isn’t necessary for a trip to the Lover’s Leap. Plus it offers spectacular views of tea plantations as well.
3) Devon Falls
Located in the nearby Talawakele, this one is usually preferable in the rainy seasons (either one of the monsoons). Although it is also relatively small, some have commented that it is a “joy to see the water flow” here. We advise you to use the nearby viewpoints for viewing these waterfalls as well. One is the Hatton Road, while the other one with a better view is at Dimbula. Plus at Dimbula you can also have some nice hot tea.
4) Bomburu Ella Waterfalls
A favourite of many, with a few tricky narrow pathways and considerable hiking required, Bomburu Falls promises not one, but 3 waterfalls. Actually, before you reach the main larger waterfall, you come across two smaller waterfalls as well. Even though this one requires relatively more hiking and physical effort, visitors have commented positively by saying that it “takes your breath away” and takes away your tiredness once you behold the sheer beauty of Bomburu Ella.
The Sacred Footprint on the Mount – Sri Pada
Now let us talk about mountains. And not just any mountain, the tall, conical mountain with a very sacred footprint on it. You guessed it! A 5 feet rock formation on this mountain is believed (at least, in Buddhist tradition) to be the footprint of the great Buddha. Thus, the Sri Pada (sacred footprint) is a place for spiritualists, hikers as well as lovers of nature. The high mount is surrounded by lowly hills, so it really does appear to be standing isolated from the rest. Along the base of the mountain is a wildlife reserve park as well which holds various species of animals, especially elephants and leopards.
No Beach but Thank Gregory for the Lake
Not to discourage you or anything, but since Nuwara Eliya is landlocked in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, there are no beaches unlike all the other famous places of Sri Lanka. However, not to worry, water-lovers, because Nuwara Eliya has some backup. And that is a small, beautiful lake built in the British era (1873) by Sir William Gregory, hence the name Gregory Lake. It has remained a popular tourist spot. It is especially crowded in the mid-year tourist season. Sought-after facilities here are boat riding and horseback riding, the latter quite preferable by children.
Parks and Greenery
Enough watery stuff. We better mention some quaint green parks too before moving on. We briefly discuss 3 of the most famous parks of Nuwara Eliya here.
1) Victoria Park
Victoria Park is a very attractive and well-maintained park. The various endemic bird species in this park are very famous. The specialities include the Kashmiri flycatcher, the Bulbul and the Indian pitta. It is most attractive during the March-May or August-September period, which is the flowering season.
2) Galway’s Land National Park
Galway’s Land is another one of the newest and sweetest parks in Nuwara Eliya. Parks like these are the reason why some have called the town as a ‘little paradise’. This one is also renowned for its exclusive birdlife as well as wild animals like buffaloes, wild boars and the barking deer. You will also be able to get a local guide here (for a fee).
3) Horton Plains National Park
The last and maybe the least is the Horton Plains, National Park. Located at a distance of 32 km from the main town, this park’s special features also include endemic wildlife, especially bird, green grasslands, forests and hills. The area is a protected reserve. Also, it is located at a higher altitude among hills, so it is bound to be chilly, no matter what time of the year you visit there. Another mention-worthy thing about this park is the prevalence of large herds of Sri Lanka Sambar deer to be seen sauntering around the park.
Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Another reason for Nuwara Eliya being called ‘little paradise’ or ‘little England’ is the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, located near the Badulla main road, 16 km from Nuwara Eliya. The Hakgala Gardens offers pretty attractive rose gardens, Japanese gardens, cedars, bunches of colourful orchids and large cypresses as well as monkeys and magpies. It is definitely a very suitable place for naturalists or anyone really with a penchant for aesthetic beauty. However, there is a small catch. The Hakgala Gardens ask for a slightly expensive entrance fee (after all, quality components don’t come cheap).
While we’re at it, it is fitting for us to mention the interesting myth behind the Hakgala Gardens. The name Hakgala means “jaw-rock”. This etymology owes its origin to an interesting story about the Buddhist/Hindu god, Hanuman, who was supposedly sent by Raam (another god) to collect some medicinal herbs from the Himalayas. However, on his way, Hanuman forgot which herb to bring, so he simply cut off a large chunk of the garden and brought it back to Sri Lanka (current) In his jaw. Yup, that really happened, folks (or did it?).
Seetha Amman Temple
While we’re at it, allow us to mention another place of religious interest with an interesting story behind it. The Seetha Amman Temple is a sweet and colourful Hindu temple located about 7 km from Nuwara Eliya. Legend has it this is the place where the demon god, Raawan held Sita captive. Sita used to pray daily for Raam to rescue her from the hands of Raawan. Near the Temple, there is a rock boulder across a stream where large circular depressions can be seen. Those, it is said, are the footprints of the elephant of Raawan. (Spooky stuff!)
So, folks, we come to a close for a blog on Nuwara Eliya. There a lot more places of interest in and around the small town of Nuwara Eliya. We did not mention the famous Golf Course of Nuwara Eliya, so if you are an eager golfer, do check out the great (but slightly expensive) golf faculties of Nuwara Eliya as well as the golf course dining room for a delicious dinner.
If you’re going from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya click here to ready my Kandy to Nuwara Eliya train experience.
DO let me know in comments which place did you like? If I you think I should more place in this list, kindly let me know in comments.