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Published: September 19th 2017
Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya Day 9: Tuesday 12 September - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya
Sue, Tom, Dave and our guide, Fernando
We left fascinating Kandy behind us and drove to Nuwara Eliya, the ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka. In earlier times, Nuwara Eliya (meaning ‘City of Light’) was the favoured cool-climate escape for the hard-working and hard-drinking English and Scottish pioneers of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. While most British visitors struggle to recognise modern England in Nuwara Eliya, the toy-town ambience does have a rose-tinted English country village feel to it.
Situated at 2,000m above sea level, Nuwara Eliya is the main hill station of Sri Lanka and is known for its excellent tea production due to the cool climate which creates tea with a unique flavour.
Enroute we visited a tea plantation and tea factory and learnt what makes tea grown here some of the best in the world. We bought several supplies of tea after sampling some English Breakfast tea.
After, we continued to Nuwara Eliya where we visited the Grand Hotel. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial
period such as the Queen’s Cottage, General House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, and Town Post Office. New hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Visitors the city can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone days by visiting the landmark buildings. Many private homes maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
The Grand Hotel was fascinating to walk through its many different rooms, restaurants, bars and billiard room. One of the attendants gave us a display of several very clever tricks with the billiard balls. We also saw billiard balls made from real ivory from the 1400 elephant that were killed by the British.
The Hotel was worth going back to, which we did after settling into our hotel which was beautifully situated on top of the hill, overlooking the town. We had a G & T while looking over the cleverly manicured gardens. We had walked down from our hotel and I walked back up the steep hill while Tom caught a tuk-tuk.
Nuwara Eliya city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is known for its temperate, cool climate — the coolest
area in Sri Lanka.
The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya's climate lent itself to becoming the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in Ceylon. Nuwara Eliya, called Little England, was 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.
Although the town was founded in the 19th century by the British, the district is today visited by native travelers, especially during April, the season of flowers, pony races, go cart races and auto rally. Although the flowers weren’t out, the gardens looked beautiful due to the moist atmosphere and lack of fierce heat.
The majority of the population of Nuwara Eliya city is Sinhalese. There are sizable communities belonging to other ethnic groups, such as Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils.
Main attractions during April include motor and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs, the former being run since 1934. The Nuwara Eliya Road Race
and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract a fair share of enthusiasts. Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlong (1811 m) Governor's Cup at the Nuwara Wliya Racecourse, Golf Tournaments at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, and the flower show at the end of the month. We saw many tourists being taken for rides on walking horses.
The town's attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis.
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.
The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest orange pekoe tea. Several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.
'Lovers Leap' is a spectacular waterfall set among tea plantation a short walk from
the town of Nuwara Eliya. It falls a height of 30m in a long cascading sheet of water. It is said that it is named after a young couple who decided to be bound together forever by jumping off the cliff to their demise.
We had a lovely Sri Lankan dinner with Sue and Dave at the restaurant of Oak-Ray Summer Hill Breeze Hotel along with a South Australian shiraz.
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