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Nuwera Eliya – The Paradisiacal Resort of All Tourists
The Pleasure Garden of the Central Hills
The name ‘Nuwera Eliya’ means ‘The City on the Plain’ (Table-land). It is situated in the central Hills of Sri Lanka, and has scenic landscape and a cool, temperate climate. Located at an altitude of 6,128 Feet above mean sea level, it is an important Tea production centre, and a popular Holiday Resort. The country’s tallest mountain –PIDURUTALAGALA –overlooks the town like a majestic sentinel.
The salubrious climate of the city was such, that within a very short period it became the prime sanctuary of Government Officers and Planters in the country. It earned the name ‘Little England’ due to its weather and scenic beauty and because it afforded the holiday makers their favourite pastimes of fox, deer and elephant hunting, cricket, polo, golf and tennis. During the April holiday, Pony Races, Go-Cart Races and Beauty Contests are held. In Motor Racing, the Mahagastota Hill Climb attracts vast crowd.
The majority of the buildings that dot the landscape in Nuwera Eliya feature the colonial style. The Queen’s Cottage where, today the president spends his vacation, General’s House, the Grand Hotel and the Hill Club are replicas of colonial buildings. Even some private homes have retained the Old-England style of lawns and terraced gardens.
Due to the high altitude in which the city is situated, Nuwera Eliya enjoys a much cooler climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 degrees centigrade. The temperature is subject to sudden change; and sometime dives as low as 03 degrees centigrade.
The town becomes very busy during the Sinhala and Tamil New year season, which coincides with Easter vacation. Finding accommodation in town during this period is, really difficult. The festive season kicks-off ceremonially on the 1st of April –with a band show, in which all the local School Bands participate.
The main attractions for tourists and holiday-makers include the spruced up Golf Course, the trout streams, the Victoria Park and Boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. The Victoria Park is popular with Bird-Watchers and the birds found there include the Indian Blue Robin, the Pied Thrush or Sealy Thrush, the Kashmir Flycatcher.
The town of Nuwera Eliya serves as a base for those visiting the Horton Plains which is a key wildlife area, within which are found the Leopard, Sambhur and the Purple faced Langur. The Dull Blue Flycatcher, the Sri Lankan White Eye and the Yellow-eared Bulbul are the birds easily seen in this area. The World famous ‘World’s End’ –which is a sheer precipice, is also found here. The precipice has a sheer drop of 1050 Meters. The famous ‘Baker Falls’ is also en route.
The Haggala Botanical Garden is a place that MUST be visited when on visit to Nuwera Eliya. It was first established in the year 1861 under curatorship of three Britons of the same name – William Nock, J.K. Nock and J.J. Nock. It is at the foot of the Haggala Rock which is between 5000 to 6000 feet above mean sea level and holds the world record of being the Botanical Garden set at the highest elevation. Within it could be found the Century-old Monetary Cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.
The entire country side –the back-gardens of every home features of all varieties of vegetables –potatoes, cabbage, carrot, leeks, beetroot and the frontal areas of the houses are bright with many hued Roses, Dahlias, Carnations and various other flowering plants. All this is set against the vivid green background of the Tea Bushes which are – indeed soothing to the tired eye. The Nuwera Eliya district produces some of the best varieties of Tea – Broken Orange Pekoe (B.O.P) produced in Sri Lanka.