Hill Country

Picture Sri Lanka and visions of golden beaches probably dance before your eyes. But there’s another side to this island. It’s a side where mists slowly part to reveal emerald carpets of tea plantations and montane forests clinging to serrated ranges bookended by waterfalls. It’s a side where you can wear a fleece in the daytime and cuddle up beside a log fire in the evening. It’s a side where you can walk to the end of the world, enjoy the most scenic train‐ride uphill, stand in the footsteps of the Buddha, paddle a raft down a raging river, and enjoy the drumbeat of traditional dance. With a hit list like this, the Sri Lankan hill country is a must visit.

 

Highlights:

Kandy

Kandy is the last royal capital of Sri Lanka, and is a major tourist destination. Famous for the Temple of the Tooth and many other temples, the city could be called the cultural capital of the island. Kandy is renowned for the great Kandy Esala Perahera‐ it runs for ten days in the month of Esala (July/August), ending on the Nikini full moon poya day. The procession is led by thousands of Kandyan dancers and drummers beating drums, cracking whips and waving colourful banners. Then come long processions of up to 50 elephants. The Maligawa tusker is decorated from trunk to toe, and carries a huge canopy sheltering, on the final night, a
replica of the sacred relic cask. This is Sri Lanka’s most magnificent annual spectacle. The city established in the 15th century was the last royal capital where 2500 years of royal rule ended. This bustling market town is rich in cultural diversity. Kandy is a good transit point to the cultural triangle to the north or hill country to the south. The city is also a good source of souvenirs and to experience many cultural performances.

Places to visit: Temple of the Tooth, Gadaladeniya Temple, Embekke Devale, Art & Craft shops, Cultural dance show, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Peradeniya Botanical Garden, Garrison Cemetery, and Kandy Tea Museum.

Nuwara Eliya

Originally an uninhabited system of forests and meadows in the shadow of Mount Pedro, Nuwara Eliya became a singularly British creation, having been discovered by colonial officer John Davy in 1819 and chosen as the site for a sanatorium a decade later. Much later the city became known as a spot where ‘English’ vegetables and fruits such as lettuce and strawberries could be successfully grown for consumption by the colonists. Coffee was one of the first crops grown here, but then the colonists switched to tea. The town quickly found itself becoming the Hill Country’s tea capital. Treat yourself to a night at one of Nuwara Eliya’s colonial hotels, play a round of golf and a few frames of billiards.

Horton Plain National Park

This is a beautiful, silent, strange world with some excellent hikes in the shadow of Sri Lanka’s second and third highest mountains, Kirigalpotta and Totapola. The plains themselves form an undulating plateau over 2000m high, covered by wild grasslands and interspersed with patches of thick forest, rocky outcrops, filigree waterfalls and misty lakes. The surprising diversity of the landscape is matched by the wide variety of wildlife. The plateau comes to a sudden end at World’s End, a stunning escarpment that plunges 880m.

Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is one of Sri Lanka’s highest and sacred mountains and a tough trek. This lofty peak has sparked the imagination for centuries and been a focus for pilgrimage for over 100 years. It is variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (sacred footprint left by the Buddha), or perhaps most poetically as Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain; where butterflies go to die). Some believe the huge ‘footprint’ crowning the peak to be that of St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even Lord Shiva. An early start is required to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise. December to April offers the best light for the climb.

Ella

Ella is a beautiful small village in Sri Lanka's hill country with little more than a handful of shops, hotels and guesthouses, but it has an almost perfect climate and occupies a very scenic vantage point, with views on a fine day stretching right across the South Coast of Sri Lanka.

Places to visit: Rawana Falls, Ella Gap, Tea Plantations.

Badulla

Badulla District is an agricultural area where tea, vegetable and paddy are cultivated. Mainly the district is divided in to two portions as Upper region and Lower region according to climatic and environmental characteristics. Upper division of the district is famous for tea plantation and vegetable cultivation while lower division is famous for paddy cultivation. The travel onwards to Badulla, into the up country, is also amazing, and probably the greatest train ride in Sri Lanka

Places to visit: Lipton Seat, Little Adam’s Peak, Dunhaida Falls, Mutiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, Bogoda Bridge, Tea Factories, Dutch Castle, Nine Arch Bridge, Demodara Circle Bridge, Dawa Temple, and Adhisham Bungalow

Kithulgala

The main delights of this town are white water rafting, jungle trekking, bird watching, and cave exploration. The town’s other claim to fame is that David Lean filmed his 1957 Oscar‐winning epic ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ here. You can walk down a pathway to the filming site along the banks of the Kelaniya Ganga.