Suitcase and World: Hill station. Nuwara Eliya.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hill station. Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya is a mountain station located about 180 km south of Colombo.  Situated at an elevation of 1,868 meter (6,128 ft) of altitude, the weather will be nice and cool compared to the coastal cities. 

The highland landscape and weather in Nuwara Eliya is perfect for growing the tea bushes that yield the world's finest Orange Pekoe tea.  Of course, yours truly will be bringing back at least a bag or box of the good stuff.....add to my collection of teas from around the world :-)

Nuwara Eliya was founded by Samuel Baker, a British explorer in 1846. Nuwara Eliya's temperate like climate lent itself to becoming the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in Ceylon. Nuwara Eliya, called Little England then, was also a hill country retreat where the British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes such as fox hunting, deer hunting,elephant hunting, polo, golf and cricket.  

The city was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics that of an English country town, with red-brick walls and mock-Tudor half-timbering.

Today, many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period and even new buildings are often built and furnished in the colonial style.  Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.

One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This "Little England" is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.

Our time in Nuwara Eliya will be spent looking out at a lot of wonderful highland landscape.  I do hope that we'll have time to visit some of the major tourist attractions.

Haggala Botanical Garden was established in 1860 under the curatorship of three British men - William Nock, JK Nock and JJ Nock. The garden is located at an elevation between 5000-6000 feet, it holds the distinction of being the highest Botanical Gardens in the world.  The Botanical Garden started as a cinchona (medicinal plant that is the source of quinine) plantation and then adapted to be an experimental garden for the acclimatization of plants, from temperate zones, in the tropics.  The wishful in me says that we'll go to Haggala and we'll get to see all the flowers of an English cottage garden in spring and summer.   If not, we'll have to be content to see the garden's collection of Monterrey cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.

Photo by Al-thalib

Gregory Lake was built by the Governor William Gregory during 1872 – 1877 periods by utilizing the water from the Nanuoya which runs across the town. It is about 91.2 hectares in extent. It was said to be used for water sports and for re-recreational activities during the British rule.

A boat yard now allows visitors to go boating and rowing.

Queen Victoria Park
was established in 1897 to commemorate the 60th  Jubilee Coronation of Queen Victoria.

Originally, the park was used as the research field of Haggala Botanical Garden.

The park is 27 acres in size and about 90% of the tree species, planted in the park, are of foreign origin.  The Brits did not want any native vegetation here!

The park is also home to a large number of rare bird species and so it's a popular destination for birdwatchers.  I'm bringing my binoculars along but since I don't know anything about birds, I'm not sure the binoculars will be of much use to me; maybe my brother will want to give birdwatching a shot.

There's also a river that flows through the park and several lakes.  From the descriptions I've read, it sounds like a pretty place.

Galway's Land National Park is a small national park situated within the city limits of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka.  It's known for its bird sanctuary that attracts about 20 species of very rare foreign birds and about 30 species of Sri Lankan birds.

Horton Plains National Park is located about an hour's drive away from Nuwara Eliya.  It will be a must stop for us - if nothing else to see World's End where the southern Horton Plains suddenly ends, and drops off to nearly 1050 meters. This shear drop offers a breathtaking view of the land below on clear days but since we'll be there in rainy season, I don't expect we'll have much of a view.  But I can hope that we get lucky.....fingers crossed!