Nuwara Eliya town founded by Sir Samuel Baker in 1847 was the favourite hill station of the British. With its temperate climate and English-style houses, beautiful green lawns and gardens, little wonder it was called “Little England”. The 18-hole Golf Course at the base of Mount Pidurutalagala, the island’s highest point at 2,518m, is the pride of the city. One can look out for well grown home gardens and farms at the countryside full of vegetables, fruits and colourful flowers. Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya is the perfect getaway from the tropical heat of the coast at less than 4 hours’ pleasant drive from Colombo through expansive tea plantations and abundant waterfalls.
The story goes that Nuwara Eliya was found by a group of British officers in early19th century, who had got lost while elephant hunting. On hearing of this, Sir Edward Barnes, the then British governor, had decided to take residence there, soon creating a health resort, which soon became internationally renowned.
Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by a seemingly endless array of tea plantations. Women tea pluckers with their baskets winding up the tea estates in the wee hours of cold and misty mornings, is a sight to watch. At the centre of the city is a modern busy market with department stores, shops, open fruit and vegetable outlets and fast food outlets. Getting away from the city takes you to rows of white colonial villas, bountiful rose gardens, the golf course and country-club-styled hotels that provide a memorable visit.
The most memorable way to travel to Nuwara Eliya is by observation carriage up to Nanu Oya railway station in the Badulla bound railway and then by road to Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya is an ideal starting point for day trips to tea plantations, Kandy, Horton Plains, World’s End and Ella – sites that tourists do not miss.