The Magic of The Hill Country in Sri Lanka
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recommendations of places to stay in Sri Lanka

The Magic of The Hill Country in Sri Lanka

A Guide to the Hills in the Heart of the Country

The hill country, in the middle of Sri Lanka, rises from 3,000 ft to over 8,000 ft and surrounds you with velvety green freshness all year round.

The approach, whether by road or rail, is through narrow passes, deep ravines, gushing streams and stunning waterfalls. The vegetation changes from tropical profusion to gentle sprawling rubber plantations, fragrant spice gardens, to cool emerald hills, carpeted by the world famous ‘Ceylon Tea’.

First introduced here by the British, who managed to penetrate the island’s hill country in the 1800’s, tea bushes cover rolling hills like soft moss, interspersed with eucalyptus, albesia and other trees. Tea-pluckers work on the slopes, butterfly-like in their colourful sari’s and adorned in traditional Tamil gold jewellery. Wisps of white cloud soften the dark outline of the high rocky crags, and roll down in gentle waves of mist at dawn. There are still a number of hill stations dotting the hill country landscape, each different in character.

Nuwara Eliya

An area of peace and silence, the nostalgia of the empire builders is reflected in Nuwara Eliya. The town, also known as ‘little England’, is decorated with buildings ranging in style from Georgian to Queen Anne. Parks, trout streams, an 18 hole golf course complete with gorse, the post office with the clock spire, red post boxes, the Anglican church with a lynch – gate, and the Hill Club, with its hunting prints, stuffed fish and polished oak all serve to remind one of colonial times gone by.
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The island’s highest peak, is a short trek away, and the breathtaking view is worth the climb. Less than 2km from Nuwara Eliya on the main Badulla highway is Sita Amman Kovil, believed to be the spot where Sita was kept in hiding by Ravana of the Indian epic Ramayana.
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Hakgala Botanic Gardens

The gardens are smaller and less exotic than the gardens at Peradeniya but at an elevation of 1,707 metres the species of flora is quite different. The sheer rock of Hakgala (Jaw rock) linked to the Rama-Ravana legend, which rises 1,500 feet straight from the gardens adds much character to the surroundings.
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Galways Land National Park

Galways Land is situated just one and a half km from Nuwara Eliya Town. The park is a haunt of barking deer, small mammals and has natural forest coverage, plantations and numerous fern varieties.
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Horton Plains

Clad in mist, located on a high windswept saddle at almost 2,134 metres, the Horton Plains are an expanse of misty grassland, rare and beautiful plants, ice cold streams, and of course, the delightful Baker’s Falls. The World’s End is the high point of the excursion to Horton Plains as it commands a most magnificent view in all of Sri Lanka. The sheer drop from Wolrd’s End is around 1,700 metres, and on clear days the view stretches as far as the Indian Ocean. An exhilarating, beautiful excursion from Nuwara Eliya (27km) it forms the eastern extremity of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary .
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Kitulgala, made famous by the 1957 film classic ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, is a quaint little village, of a Kelani village community, wet and sleepy. However, it is the best site in Sri Lanka for white water rafting. The scenery is spectacular, forest covered hills, deep gorges plunging down to the Kelani river You can pre-arrange rafting tours through many travel agents or adventure tour operators.
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Located on the foot of the high country a pretty wooded town enticing holidaymakers anytime of the year to enjoy the several rock pools of ice cold water, formed by a mountain stream flowing from the picturesque Horton Plains. A base to explore Bambarakanda falls, which at 241 metres is the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.
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The Sri Lanka Tea Research Institute’s Headquarters are situated here at St. Coombs Estate, tea buffs make a note as there is plenty of information to be gathered. With a cool climate and as pretty as the other hills stations is it different in elevation and topography. It is close to Devon falls (86 metres) and St. Clair falls (73 metres), the former straight and narrow while the latter broader, a double cascade.
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A busy little town often covered in mist gives it a romantic expectancy. Things to see are the grand colonial mansion of Adhisham, the walk up to Lipton seat (names after the famous tea magnate), Dambatenne tea estate and Diyaluma falls, which at 220 metres high is the second highest water fall in Sri Lanka.
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Firmly entwined between the love triangle, of Sita, Rama and Ravana of the Indian epic Ramayana, Ella is strewn with reminders of Sita’s imprisonment in Sri Lanka. Every rock, stream or water fall is named after Sita or Ravana. Framed by the towering Ella Rock and the spectacle of the wondrous Ella Gap, Ella surpasses all other places for sheer, magnificent scenic beauty in Sri Lanka.
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Sri Lankan Airways flies directly to Colombo from several Asian destinations and European cities including, London, Paris and Frankfurt. The Hill Country is easily accessible from Colombo by car, train and bus. The journey takes 3 to 5 hours depending on the transport taken and destination.

The Holy Mountain of Sri Lanka - Sri Pada (Adam's Peak)

Refer to our Guide to Sri Pada for more information.