Points of Interest - Nuwara Eliya

Nuwaraeliya

This highland civic of Nuwara Eliya often referred to as the ‘’Little England” for its colonial style bungalows, Tudor style hotels, well-kept gardens, meticulous hedges, shrubberies and of course not to forget the cool climate.

This was once a small village hidden amongst the wooded green mountains, hence the name “Eliya” meaning “a clearing” in Sinhala, until colonial civil servant John Devy saw the potential in 1819, which initiated the budding milieu for British colonial hands to have a pause from the heat and the city commotion. Henceforward, the colonial style bungalows, horse racing venues, golf courses and clay pigeon shooting became customary events in Nuwara Eliya. In 1870 following the Coffee Blight, Sir James Taylor introduced tea and converted Nuwara Eliya, into a commercial and a coffee planting centre.

With an elevation of 1890 meters above the sea level, Nuwara Eliya is the highest city in Sri Lanka, sits on the foot of the highest mountain peak of the island, Piduruthalagala also known as Mount Pedro.

The town becomes colourful with beautiful blooms and crowded with visitors from all around Sri Lanka and all around the world.

Things to Do in Nuwara Eliya

Victoria Park

This park was name to commemorate the 60th Jubilee Coronation of Queen Victoria in the year 1897. The park comes to life during March to May and during August to September. The park becomes a great tourist attraction during this period for its colourful blooms, well-manicured gardens and for the various bird species found in the park.

Hiking & Trekking

Nuwara Eliya gives you a perfect opportunity to test your endurance among the various difficulty levels of terrain.

Horton Plains is amongst the top of the list of trails, offering about 5 hiking trails starting from various points, including Kirigalpotha, the highest point in Horton Plains and the 2nd highest mountain in Sri Lankan also Thotupolakanda, 3rd highest mountains in Sri Lanka.

The most famous trail in Horton Plains is the trial leading to the World’s End, which suits beginners and experts alike. Scenic grass plains, cloud forests, exciting wild life encounters including few endemic bird species makes the trail most exciting and relaxing at the same time.

Bambarakanda is another option, situated in Kalupahana, 790ft in height, recorded as the tallest waterfall on the island and 299th in the world,  also offers interesting opportunities for hiking and trekking.

And another one of the most famous trail among the locals is the Sri Padaya or Adams peak, sacred since ancient times to Buddhists. It is regarded as a pilgrimage than a hike for the locals and been worshipped for years. The foot print carved on the rock at the 2,243m height summit is believed to be a sacred place visited by The Lord Buddha.  The hike up to the summit takes 5-6 hours and most of the visitors start at the night to avoid the heat of the day.

There are 6 accessible trails up to the summit starting from Hatton-Nallathanni; Ratnapura-Palabaddala; Kuruwita-Erathna; Murraywatte; Mookuwatte and Malimboda. All 6 trails have their own distinctive features and various difficult levels. It is recommended to do a thorough research before you start this fairly difficult hike, on any trail. 

Hike up the Single Tree Hill is relatively easy yet an utterly satisfying hike starting from Nuwara Eliya. Even though 6,889 feet height over sea level, the peak is only rises 250m above Nuwara Eliya city, giving a spectacular panoramic views of the city and depending on the weather, Haggala Mountains, Sri Pada and Piduruthalagala peaks can also be seen at the top.

Horton Plains

Horton plains is a destination for nature lovers and nature researchers alike with its rich biodiversity and consist of ecosystems such as montane evergreen forests, grasslands, marshy lands and aquatic ecosystem. At an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, Horton Plains spreads across over 3,169 hectares of the highest tableland of the island.

It also holds an ecological importance of being in Sri Lanka’s most important catchment area of almost all major rivers and containing most of the endemic plants and animals representative of the country’s wet and Montane zones.

Galways National Park

Declared as National Park in 2006 Galway’s Land National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s smallest parks, it is home to a significant number of animals and birds and is considered an important bird watching site as it was declared as a conserve to the montane ecosystem.

With plenty of beautiful scenery, luscious greenery and countless birds and wildlife around, this is an amazing place and definitely worth a visit! Recommended for bird enthusiasts and what’s more, this could also be a fun trip if you are travelling with family and small children.

Moon Plains

Located just off the Nuwara Eliya city, Moon plains, also known as Sandatenna, most famous for the Mini World’s End viewpoint which offers surprisingly spectacular 360’view of the surrounding towering mountain range.

Opens daily from 7am to 5pm and the ticket prices are surprisingly reasonable and includes safari jeep and a guide.

Race Course

Race course in Nuwara Eliya is the last remaining race course in Sri Lanka after horse racing ban in 1956 until it was re-established in 1981. First contested in 1833, five horse racing meets are held in Nuwara Eliya annually, around the Sinhalese New Year in April.

Botanical Garden - Hakgala

Established in 1861 as an experimental cultivation of Cinchona, a commercial crop thriving at the time in Nuwara Eliya and was turned into a Botanical garden since in 1884. Over 10,000 species of plants can be found including Orchids and Roses. The best time to visit the park is during the spring season of April.             

Gregory Lake

Set in the middle of the Nuwara Eliya town, Gregory Lake was built by Governor William Gregory between 1872 and 1877. The green around the Gregory Lake is famous for sunbathing, picnicking and generally relaxing with families. This area becomes crowded during the spring festival in April with carnivals and various other family friendly activities.

Train ride to Ella

The route from Nuwara Eliya to Ella or Badulla to Ella is considered the most scenic train journey in Sri Lanka. But make sure you reserve a ticket online before you start your journey to book first or second class tickets, so you will get the opportunity to enjoy the surroundings leisurely.

You can also visit Tea Factories, Strawberry Farms and Dairy farms to learn how the world famous Sri Lankan tea is made, how strawberries grow and harvest or simply find out how things work in Sri Lankan farms and taste the fresh produce.

How to get there

Buses can be taken from the Fort main bus station or if you prefer the scenic train journey the trains available from Fort Train station to Nanu-oya, closest train station to Nuwara Eliya. Approximately 6Km from the city centre, either buses or tuk tuks can be found from Nanu-oya. The travel time all together can be about 6-7 hours due to the hilly roads, so be prepared for a long journey if you’re using public transport.

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