Perched 6000ft above sea-level, is Nuwara Eliya, the exotic tea city of Sri Lanka. This refined conurbation with a British feel is frequently cited, as the Little England of the hill country. Nuwara Eliya does have a non-imperial England vibe to it; be it, the colonial-era architecture, marked by the half-timbered framework, the steeply pitched gable roofs, or the sprawling tea estates enwrapped in squalling cool breeze. In fact, gallivanting around Nuwara Eliya also clue up on the Scottish hedgerows, that border the city lanes with a well-manicured green patchwork. That’s because this tea town was once the favoured escape of the English colonizers of Sri Lanka’s tea industry.
It’s a treat to be here, to be surrounded by the graminaceous countryside boasting splendid views. Thriving with unusual birds, plants, and animals, Nuwara Eliya makes a fine base for relaxation. This natural town offers plenty of options to unwind, some even in the comfort of caves and waterfalls. From checking into a colonial hotel to playing a round of golf, there’s a lot to do in this heritage town. This serene retreat is also home to Hakgala Botanical Gardens, the colourful shrine of Seetha Amman Temple, and the dense Galway’s Land National Park.
Damro Tea Factory and Plantation
During my stay, I sauntered along the town’s most beautiful Damro Tea Boutique having several rows of well-kept ridges. This glistening Tea Boutique is one of Nuwara Eliya’s most popular where you can get a tour to understand the manufacturing process of world-famous Ceylon Tea. While taking the tour, you may also pluck some tea leaves yourself and also, chat with the local women who work here. During the Tea Factory tour, I was amazed to find out that a single bush of tea tree carries leaves of black, green, as well as, white tea.
This wonderful tour concluded with me enjoying a pure unblended cup of factory fresh tea in the tea room. This was certainly, one of the world’s best tea and I had the pleasure to taste everything from BOP, Pekon, Cinnamon, Silver to Golden Tea. Without a doubt, this entire valley provides a lasting impression of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country.
The usual guided tour to the tea factory includes learning tea plucking with the estate workers and observing the tea making process in the Tea Factory. On completion of the tour, you get to taste a variety of the finest Ceylon Tea in the tea room. The city tour included catching sight of the century-old Town Post Office, Queen’s Cottage, Victoria Park, Seetha Amman Temple and the General’s House.
Nuwara Eliya Post Office
Nuwara Eliya’s Tudor styled two-storey post office is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest. Therefore, it was only fair that I mailed a few postcards back home from here. This red brick building house post office on the ground floor, while the upper floor is used for tourist accommodation. The post office also boasts a clock spire, as you can see in the above picture.
Seetha Amman Temple
Seetha Amman Temple, on the other hand, is perceived to be the site where Sita was held captive by King Ravana. This site is also known as Sita Eliya, as it is situated in the Seetha Eliya Village. If we are to believe the legendary mythology of Ramayana, then this is the exact location where Sita prayed for King Ram to come and rescue her. The temple also houses sunken landforms believed to be Lord Hanuman’s footprints. Likewise, the golf course, I have heard is one of the finest and picturesque in Asia. So is the tranquil Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity.
Next morning, I crossed the beautiful Gregory lake on my way to Nanu Oya railway station. Lake Gregory is a large artificial reservoir perched in the heart of the tea hill city, of Sri Lanka, the stunning Nuwara Eliya. It was built-in 1873 during the British era when Sir William Gregory was the city governor. The entire surrounding area of this lake is a beautiful space worth exploring. As much as, I would have loved to spend more time here, our guide had a better plan for us. He took us for a splendid train ride amidst Sri Lanka’s most scenic route. While the train ride from Nanu Oya to Haputale was phenomenal; when in Nuwara Eliya, do spend some quality time by the lake and also take a trip to its stunning St Clair’s, Lovers Leap, Devon and Glen Waterfalls.
P.S. I visited Nuwara Eliya as a guest of Sri Lanka Tourism Board, however, the views are my own.