Sri Lanka’s highest town, lies at the heart of the southern hill country, set amidst a bowl of green mountains and Tea Estates which also known as the “Little England” in Sri Lanka.
The city of Nuwara Eliya is essentially a British creation. The region was discovered by the colonial administrator John Davy in 1819, while a decade later Governor Edward Barnes created a road from Kandy to and in 1830s the town gradually developed in to a commercial and coffee planting centre. The British population was more than the local.
Later in 1846/7 Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile, introduced English style agriculture and gardening in to the city and up until now this has been one of the main the income of the people living in this area.
With the failure of Coffee plantation the planters wanted to change the plantation and “Tea” was introduced instead. The first experimental plantation was in 1867 by Sri James Taylor at Loolecondera Estate and this lead Nuwara Eliya becoming the centre of Sri Lanka’s Tea growing industry and now produces the finest Tea in the World.
Nuwara Eliya climate lend itself to becoming the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in Ceylon. Nuwara Eliya, as we call it the “Little England “ , 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.
Growing of this city was continued when Governor Sir William Gregory converted a marshland just south of the town in to Lake Gregory which now is one of the main attractions for anyone who visits this wonderful cozy city. During this era the first large scale brewery was opened in 1881 just outside the town, in 1885 the railway line to nearby Nanu Oya was completed, the Golf Courses were constructed and the first ever horse races were introduced by building up the racecourse in the town itself.
Mesmerizing the locals as well as visitors from foreign lands, the high country rises from 3000ft. to over 8000 ft and is surrounded velvety green freshness year round. The road up to the hill country is through narrow passes, deep ravines, gushing streams and waterfalls.
This wonderful colonial town, is a land of peace and silence where everyone belongs to difference religions and races live peacefully in one small town. The reminiscence of the empire builders is reflected in this town which is decorated with buildings ranging in style from Georgian to Queen Anne, Botanical Gardens, The post office, Anglican Church, Catholic Church, The Hotel Hill Club, Grand Hotel and St Andrew’s, so many bungalows with English style flower gardens, strawberry shops and many more memories of people who loved this city.
Once in this city do not forget to have a lovely hot pancake with cream and Strawberry and afternoon a high Tea just to bring back the lovely memories of the Colonial Era.
By Shiroma Rodrigo