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Even though Nuwara Eliya is a small town, it remains a popular tourist destination today. In spite of its simplistic atmosphere and traditional look and feel, this “Little England” is often referred to as one of the world’s most favored tourist destinations. Due to the famous tea plantations here, it retains the old British buildings, Tudor architecture, and tea houses (understandable because of the old British buildings). Nuwara Eliya has many nicknames, including “City of Light” and “City on the Plains”. With its high altitude in the Central Province mountains, the town can be chilly or moderate; another reason Sri Lankans come there to escape their cities. Let’s shed some light on this “City of Light” and find out what places to visit in Nuwara Eliya.
For the love of Tea
Those of you who haven’t heard of Nuwara Eliya’s famous tree plantations might not know that most tourists come here for the tea factory tours. As a matter of fact, Nuwara Eliya is an area of interest for many tourists due to its tea factories. Here we will mention the names of the three tea factories, without going into detail.
1) Blue Fields Tea Factory
In Ramboda (near Nuwara Eliya), the Blue Fields Tea Factory is one of the most popular tea factories to visit. Local guides are knowledgeable and informative, and foreign tourists will enjoy the experience. It is possible to walk through the tea fields and interact with the local women plucking tea leaves (and take a few selfies in exchange for small tips too). The surrounding mountains also offer spectacular views.
2) Damro Tea (formerly Macbook)
Another interesting place to visit in Nuwara Eliya is Damro Tea Factory, particularly if you’re a tea fan or just enjoying the scenic scenery. It is a stunning and serene landscape with rolling hills covered with neatly trimmed tea bushes. Tea fields are not just for tea lovers, but likewise for photographers and nature lovers. There are many local guides who offer Damro Tea Factory tours of the tea fields and/or facilities so that visitors can learn how tea is produced. On the factory tour, you will learn how tea has been grown in Sri Lanka and its importance. When visiting the Damro Tea Factory, you may also try the teas they produce on site. The Damro Tea Factory offers a deep insight into the culture and traditions associated with tea cultivation in Sri Lanka. You can also purchase your favorite blends of Sri Lankan tea.
3) Pedro Tea Factory
In contrast to the previous two tea factors, Pedro Tea prohibits photography inside the factory. Private tours around the facility are moderately to slightly more expensive. It is revealing to know that most tea leaves are processed at night due to cool temperatures. There may not be much action with machine work here because only light tea is produced there. Pedro Tea still fulfills its share of aesthetic beauty.
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
It has consistently been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor since several years ago, making it one of Nuwara Eliya’s most popular waterfalls. Your love of nature will be brought to another level by the foamy, sparkling waters, the steps, the rapids, as well as the lush ecosystem.
2) Lover’s Leap Falls
Perhaps smaller than St. Claire’s, but this waterfall has its own advantages. Visitors to Lover’s Leap say that it is easy to get around there and that there is minimal walking required. Some even mention that a local guide isn’t required for a trip to the site. It also offers spectacular views of the tea plantations nearby.
3) Devon Falls
Although it is also relatively small, some people have commented that it is a “joy to see the water flow” here. It is usually preferred during the rainy season (either the monsoon or the summer). For viewing these waterfalls as well, we recommend you use the viewpoints nearby. One is Hatton Road, while the other one with a better view is Dimbula Road. Plus at Dimbula you can also have some tasty 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.
Since Nuwara Eliya is a landlocked region in Sri Lanka, it does not have beaches. However, Sir William Gregory built the lake of Gregory in 1873, and it remains one of Nuwara Eliya’s top attractions, not just a place for adrenaline rushes but a beautiful, small lake.There are many activities to do here during the mid-year tourism season, especially boating and horseback riding, which is especially popular with children. Young children can also enjoy leisure activities on the lake, including speedboats, dinky boats, speed boats, pony rides, and much more, as well as speedboats, dinky boats, speed boats, speed boats, and pony rides.
Ticket price: LKR.20 (Locals)
Charges for Car Park
SUV / Van – 250 LKR Car – 125 LKR Bus – 650 LK
Opening Hours – 06:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. (No admission after 03:00 p.m.)
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.