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Nuwara Eliya NuwaraEliya scenery

The "Little England" of Sri Lanka in the historical "Malaya Rata"

 

This famous upcountry town is situated 1868 meters (6128 feet) above sea level and is in the Nuwara Eliya District. Due to it's high altitude, it has a Sub Tropical Highland climate . The average annual temperature varies between 11-20 C° and the recorded lowest temperature is 0.4 C° and the recorded highest temperature is 27.7 C°. Monthly rainfall varies between 70-225 mm and has an average annual rainfall figure or precipitation of 1900 mm. The maximum rainfall is generally in October and the minimum rainfall is in March. During the year it has a relative humidity between 65%-87%. Sri Lanka's highest mountain Pidurutalagala with a height of 2,527 m (8,292 ft) is very close to this town and can be seen prominently.The distance to the mountain is about 5 Km as the crow flies. During the British period this mountain was called as Mount Pedro. Today the mountain area is a high security zone since the summit is made used for state communication and TV transmission towers. Horton Plains situated south of Nuwara Eliya is a unique Ecological zone of Wet Patana Grassland with a Cloud Forest. The extend of Nuwara Eliya district is 1741 sq. Km. It consists of Nuwara Eliya, Maskeliya, Kothmale, Wapane and Hanguranketha electorates. One can access Nuwara Eliya through Kandy- Nuwara Eliya road via Gampola, Kandy -Nuwara Eliya road via Hanguranketha and Walapane, Badulla- Nuwara Eliya Road , Haputale- Nuwara Eliya road, Avissavella- Nuwara Eliya road via Hatton and through Bandarawela- Nuwara Eliya road. Nuwara Eliya is about 75 Km from Kandy (along A5 Main Road) and about 90 Km from Ginigathhena (along A7 Main Road). Nuwara Eliya district is famous for Tea Plantation and the cool and moist climate are factors for the Tea leaves to thrive on. Areas such as Hatton, Talawakele, Maskeliya are around Nuwara Eliya and tea grown in this region has a high market and is in good demand worldwide. Famous waterfalls such as Devon and St.Clair falls are situated close to Nuwara Eliya and the Lake Gregory in the heart of the city is a much sought out tourist attraction.

Nuwara Eliya City scenery

Nuwara Eliya Town

Scenery from Nuwara Eliya- Udupussellawa Road

Scenery from Nuwara Eliya- Udupussellawa Main Road

 

 

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

 

Nuwara Eliya  Race Course view image

Nuwara Eliya Race Course

 

Nuwara Eliya Landscape Sceneries

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery

Nuwara Eliya before British Rule (1815)

The first recent written account on Nuwara Eliya is by Dr.John Davy. In 1819 he had visited Nuwara Eliya during a trekking expedition. The direction he has accessed Nuwara Eliya was from Uva. During that time Nuwara Eliya was uninhabited . The Nuwara Eliya valley was covered with thick forest on slopes and grass patnas in valleys. It only had been a passing visit by him and his party. There had been ruins of earlier irrigation systems and an inscription stone dated back to 900 and 1000 AD stating offerings to a Buddhist vihara had been found. This was later shifted to the premises of Kachcheri of the Nuwara Eliya town. The name Nuwara Eliya has the meaning “ City of Light”. Through out the island’s history, “ Nuwara ” is having a meaning of a Royal Township. Meaning of “Eliya” is not very clear but could have been Patana areas that is found among the highland’s thick forests, that gets full sun shine, thus getting ample “light” or “Eliya”. Few more such names crop up in the vicinity of Nuwara Eliya , that of Sita Eliya , Maha Eliya (Horton Plains) and Handa Eliya, the areas that can be attributed to plains. In 1826, an Elephant hunting party had visited this Nuwara Eliya plains . During those days Nuwara Eliya valley and the hill sides had been frequented by elephants since the undisturbed forest regions were covering much of the highland land area. This episode of the hunting party who had experienced the 36 F° climate and the geological features the area possessed was heard by the then Governor Edward Barnes. He later initiated the roadway to reach Nuwara Eliya passing Ramboda, making Nuwara Eliya accessible to entrepreneurs who gradually converted Nuwara Eliya to a model British village area.

 

Nuwara Eliya British Architectural features still remaining

Nuwara Eliya British Architectural design

 

 

A Tea Factory at Nuwara Eliya

A Tea Factory at Nuwara Eliya

 

 

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

 

Nuwara Eliya Landscape Sceneries

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery

 

Topography and Geographical features of Nuwara Eliya surroundings

Physiographically, Nuwara Eliya is situated in the middle of the country's highest Peneplain , a level land surface that has an advanced stage of erosion. It is a complex of massifs, mountain ranges, plateaus and basins. The Southern border of this peneplain runs about 50 miles from Sri Pada or Adam's Peak ( 7,360 feet) which is on the Western side to Namunukula (6,360 feet) of the Eastern side. From the middle of this Southern border and running towards North is the High Plains that extends between Kirigalpotta (7,875 feet) and Pidurutalagala (8292 feet). It is near this Pidurutalagala mountain,that Nuwara Eliya town (6128 feet) is siuated.The scenic grasslands of Horton Plains, Moon Plains, Kandepola-Sita Eliya Plains and Elk plains all are situated in this altitude range of 6000 to 7000 feet , few tens of kilometers away from Nuwara Eliya.

The highlands of Sri Lanka can be considered as a great upheaval of land mass having an area of about 4000 sq. miles. From the base of this massive upheaval, rises four extensive ledges. They consists of mountains of different elevations between 5000-8000 feet above sea level. Pidurutalagala , which is the highest peak among these is 8280 feet high. It is positioned about 3 miles North East of Nuwara Eliya town.The plain which Nuwara Eliya is situated is upwards of 6000 ft above sea level . This plain is about 6 miles in length and 1 ½ miles in breadth. The circumference of this area is considered to be around 15 miles. In around 1833, before any plantations took place, the whole plain was divided into two parts with a thick stripe of jungle appearing in the middle. This plain was surrounded by steep rocky mountains , covered by thick forest from the level of the plain upto the top of those steep and irregular heighted mountains. The temperature of Nuwara Eliya never approaches the Tropical heat but can touch low temperatures that make ice flakes on grass patna in early mornings. There are four gaps accessing the Nuwara Eliya plains through surrounding hills. The gap at North-East leads to Kotmale valley, the South-East gap leads to Uva basin, the West gap to the Dimbula valley and the East gap to Kandapola and Udapussellawa. Some other important mountains and places around Nuwara Eliya are Kikilimana (7345 feet, 1 mile NW of Nuwara Eliya ), Kudugala (7607 feet), Totupola (7746 feet), Kirigalpotta (7832 feet), Lover’s Leap (7098 feet, 2 miles E of Nuwara Eliya ) and One Tree Hill (6903 feet, 1 mile S of Nuwara Eliya )

Tea Plantation at Nuwara Eliya

Tea Plantation at Nuwara Eliya

 

 

Physiographical Map of Central Hills that shows Pidurutalagala Mountain and Nuwara Eliya

Physiography Map of NuwaraEliya, Pidurutalagala and Centrall hills. Reference- The Geography of Sri Lanka, P.G. Cooray

Nuwara Eliya Geography and Topography

 

Earliest History

Historically, this mountainous region was called as " Malaya Rata". It enveloped the present day Kothmale Valley, Hewaheta, Nuwara Eliya and Walapane. In the 2nd Century BC, Prince Dutugemunu lived in Kothmale in disguise due to a dispute with his father who was the King of Magama. After the death of his father , he became the King of Magampura and later became the King of the unified Sri Lanka. Traces of mining for Gems and Iron ore had been found on hill sides of Nuwara Eliya. Mr. Henry Cave states ( in 1900) that several ancient moonstones were found at "Moon Plains" area. Also there are remains of ancient irrigation systems "which must have involved immense labour and great engineering skill " he states. Sir Samuel Baker (around 1848) was of the opinion that the ancient importance of this area was due to the origination of the water source for the rivers of the country. The rivers that were flowing through the low country of Anuradhapura area were supplying many man made tanks (wewa) with water for rice cultivation about two thousand years back. Ruins of masonary had been found at angles of ravines to protect the waterway banks. Most of these waterways were dry and overgrown with forest during his observations.It is believed that the area was inhabitant in the past corresponding to above times.

 

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery

 

English writers on Nuwara Eliya

Henry W. Cave, a well known British author who has written many books on Ceylon* has paid a lavish tribute to Nuwara Eliya as follows in his book " Golden Tips - A Description of Ceylon and its great Tea industry" - ( year of publication- 1900 ).

"Seven thousand miles from London, six degrees from the equator and 6,200 feet above sea, lies this unique retreat, whose precious attributes, not long ago inaccessible, are fast becoming familiar to thousands, and specially to the ever increasing army of wanderers who flee from the rigours of the European winter.

Egypt has its healing climate, the Engadine its lovely scenery, Brazil its wooded wilderness, the Alps their flowery meadows, and Peru its high plateau; but here, in one of our own colonies, easy of access and free from any serious drawback, are all these and a hundred other attractions, forming a combination of the most delightful conditions under which man can desire to live"

Henry W. Cave compares the landscape and the climate of Nuwara Eliya to that of West Highlands of Scotland. Additionally it is said to posses the purest and most invigorating air with a temperature that is most suited to the health of Europeans. He also says that if one chooses, he is able to leave the moist atmosphere and the rain clouded sky by an hours drive to reach the sunny plains and the dry hills.

 

What Mr. Cave has penned more than a century back may now not be there as the whole world has been changed immensely during the past 110 years but even the present day traveller is able to have at least a glimpse or more than what Mr. Cave has experienced then. What he came across was the pristine ecology Sri Lanka had at that time, which was undisturbed for many centuries. We are fortunate to have many conservation areas protecting the ecology of the area such as Horton Plains and many more. What we experience today may not be there in another 100 years time. Writings on Nuwara Eliya and surroundings by those prominent authors such as Henry Cave, Dr. John Davy , Sir Samuel Baker and W.T.Kebly proves this without much doubt since what they saw then is no more there now.

 

 

Queen Victoria Park-Nuwara Eliya Town

Queen Victoria Park at Nuwara Eliya Town

 

 

Queen Victoria Park-Nuwara Eliya Town

Queen Victoria Park at Nuwara Eliya Town

 

 

Queen Victoria Park-Nuwara Eliya Town

Queen Victoria Park at Nuwara Eliya Town

 

 

 

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery

 

 

Pidurutalagala Mountain seen from Gregory Lake end

Pidurutalagala Mountain seen from Gregory Lake end

Pidurutalagala Mountain

Visit Pidurutalagala Mountain and Forest Reserve page.

A Closeup photo of Pidurutalagala Mountain seen from Gregory Lake end with Transmission towers on summit

A Closeup photo of Pidurutalagala Mountain seen from Gregory Lake end with Transmission towers on summit

 


Nuwara Eliya Landscape Sceneries

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery
Nuwara Eliya Scenery


Ramboda Pass

Passing Ramboda Pass

 

The road to Nuwara Eliya from Gampola was planned and constructed by Major Skinners around 1829 under the directions of Governor Edward Barnes, which was an arduous task and one can notice that by travelling through Ramboda Pass towards Nuwara Eliya along Gampola – Nuwara Eliya road. The roadway has recently been widened and near Ramboda , there is a new Tunnel way constructed. One can still see the old roadway running along a cliff edge cut into the rock itself. To reach Nuwara Eliya from Ramboda, one has to manage a climb of 3000 feet along the roadway. Today, the area around has tea plantations such as Labookele. Around 1829, Ramoda area was a thick forest with wild elephants frequenting around the hillsides. The trees of the jungle near the Ramboda Pass area were subjected to high winds and storms and during nights that of low temperature and had the characteristics of a Pigmy forest. After the ascent along the road and on the crest one can see Nuwara Eliya further away in a valley.

Nuwara Eliya Lake Gregory

Before 1827, the area of present lake had been a swamp with streams running and water sources being coming from the nearby mountains throughout the year. In 1874, Sir William Gregory converted it in to a lake by building a dam with a carriage drive. The total length of the drive around the lake was six miles at the time. Trout fish and carps were abundant then. The commercial vegetation and cultivation in the region for the past many decades has degraded the water quality of the lake now, which was unpolluted and sparkling, a century back that suited well for the fish community.

Nuwara Eliya Lake Gregory

 

Nuwara Eliya Landscape Sceneries

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

 


Hakgalla Gardens

The South East Gap of Nuwara Eliya that leads to Uva, directs to the base of this magnificent mountain of Hakgalla. It is a gorge or a narrow pass found at the foot of this mountain that the roadway is made to Uva. There is a deep descend of five miles to Hakgalla along the motorway. The Hakgalla Garden is at an elevation of 5400 feet above sea level. The mighty Hakgala mountain towers further 1600 feet above Hakgalla Garden. It was established in 1861 as an experimental cultivation area and was transformed into a Botanical Garden in 1884. It has an excellent scenic beauty not to be found elsewhere in the country's Botanical Gardens. It has retained many natural features such as creeks and pools, streams coming from the mountain peaks, natural trees and ferns. Additionally there are native furns, trees of different foliage, Orchids and many varieties of Roses.

Sir Samuel Baker, the Hunter, Explorer and the Entrepreneur

Sir Samuel Baker is being identified as the Pioneer of making Nuwara Eliya a model English Town. In the earlier days for about a year he was mainly involved in shooting in lowlands. There he contacted jungle fever and was sent to highlands of Nuwara Eliya by his physician. He was recovered beyond expectations and he credited his recovery to the extraordinary climatic conditions of Nuwara Eliya. It is said that the mountain air and the nature of the area vitalizes the body and the mental healthiness. At that time Nuwara Eliya was a remote area only with a poor conditioned solitary rest house in the area where he was lodged during his illness. He desired the area to be developed to a model English village and started to implement his idea. He got a ship charted and brought down a bailiff with his wife and daughter and nine others with all types of farming equipment available in England at that time, Saw mills, seeds of numerous types, a bull, a horse, fox hounds and a greyhound also were among the cargo. During the Eight years he lived in Nuwara Eliya before going back to lead another expedition up in the river Nile, he expanded the business of farming to greater heights. He is also regarded as a great game hunter at those days and the British were much taken up on to it as a sport. He identified Mahagastota, a place few miles from Nuwara Eliya to be his farm village suitable for cultivation after having a thorough survey of the Nuwara Eliya and its surroundings. He has made use of a cultivator connected with a harrow, drawn by a tamed elephant to plough through the Moon Plains and to cultivate wheat, oat and barley. He had supplied barley produced from his crop to the Brewery nearby and there had been an Elephant Stable also in his farm. He spent his life at Baker’s Farm from 1848 to 1855.

 

Nuwara Eliya Historical Map showing British time landmarks

 Nuwara Eliya History map

You can find Pidurutalagala Mountain, Kikilimana mountain, Mandaram Nuwara, One Tree Hill,Race Course, Grand Hotel, Gregory Lake, Lover's Leap Waterfall, Baker's Farm and Moon Plains etc.

 

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Reference

P.G.Cooray-" An Introduction to The Geology of Sri Lanka"-

Henry W. Cave - " Golden Tips - A Description of Ceylon and its great Tea industry"-

W. T. Keble - " Ceylon Beaten Track"

 

Sri Lanka's highest mountain Pidurutalagala with a height of 2,527 m (8,292 ft)

- P.G.Cooray-" An Introduction to The Geology of Sri Lanka"- pp-55

 

 

*( During the British Colonial era, Sri Lanka was called as Ceylon)