The central highlands of Sri Lanka are filled with pictures of stirring mountains carpeted with lush green tea gardens, roaring waterfalls mingling with the clouds and landscapes shimmering in sunlight and disappearing under the rising mist.
Situated over 6000 feet above the sea level the changing faces of Sri Lanka’s great mountain ranges are best viewed at leisure and on foot. The temperature varies between 160 Celsius to 20 Celsius providing an ideal climate for walking.
The most favorite and renowned hill-country location is Nuwara Eliya, The most important tea production hub of Sri Lanka, founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846.The city’s mild climate lent itself to become the leisure capital of the country and was the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in colonial 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.
Many of the buildings in the city hold architectural features from the colonial past such as the Queen’s Cottage, General’s House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, Town Post Office and even new hotels have borrowed the colonial style. Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens, keeping true to the spirit of ‘Little England’.
Following closely behind is Bandarawela, a plantation town in the Badulla district. The city boasts of its fair share of waterfalls and buildings of colonial architecture including the Bandarawela Hotel, the Cargilles building, the Tennis club and Adisham Bungalow. Just eight km away fromBandarawela isElla, a sleepy village nestled in a valley gazing through Ella gap on plain nearly 1000 feet below.Ella is surrounded by hills and is perfect for walks through tea plantations to temples and waterfalls.
Another favorite hill station is Balangoda, with mountain ranges and views to beat Nuwara Eliya. Although not organized as a leisure city Balangoda and its surroundings offer one of the best views, treks and adventures in Sri Lanka. Just 15 km away from Balangoda is Belihuloyaa little hamlet with unspoiled views and opportunities for trekking, canoeing and bird watching.
Adam’s Peak or the Sri Padaya Peak, a 2,243 metres conical mountain located in the southern reaches of the Central Highlands, in the Ratnapura district is also a popular hill station especially for its religious significance. The 1.8 meter rock formation near the peak is long believed to be the sacred foot print of Lord Buddha by locals.