Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya is නුවර එළිය (Sinhalese) is நுவரெலியா (Tamil)
Nuwara Eliya City is uniquely quaint and has deep vibes of English roots from the days that the British “found” this lovely “upcountry” getaway.
Called “Little England” because it reflects all that is good about England. However, Nuwara Eliya is not in Europe, rather this gem of a place is located in the Indian Ocean, on the lovely tropical island that is Sri Lanka, high from the sea at about 2000m above the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Indeed it is six-hour car drive from the capital along some of the most beautiful roads with outstanding views at every twist and turn as you proceed upcountry Sri Lanka. This is a place like no other.
GPS Coordinates are 06°58′0″North 080°46′0″East This puts the Nuwara Eliya Race Course about 4750 nautical miles from Windsor Race Course in England.
- Urban 13 km2 (5 sq mi)
- Elevation 1,868 m (6,129 ft)
- Population in the City of 27,500(2011 census)
- Density 3,197/km2 (8,280/sq mi)
- Tourist population – many!
Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka
The city is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with a picturesque landscape and temperate climate. Nuwara Eliya (Sinhalese: නුවර එළිය [nuwərə ɛlijə]; Tamil: நுவரெலியா) is a city in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka.
The name means “city on the plain (table land)” or “city of light”. The upcountry altitude is around 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.
Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, overlooks Nuwara Eliya which is known for its temperate, cool climate – the coolest area in Sri Lanka. Very pleasant all year round. A great retreat from the coastal towns to revitalise the health and put some chill in the bones. A trip upcountry whilst refreshing, makes returning to the beaches all that more adorable.
Exciting and relaxing things to do in Nuwara Eliya – as you wish
Watersports and horse riding – Nuwara Eliya
Gregory Lake is a huge lake in Nuwara Eliya. There is a large car park with restaurants and tourist shops, watersports, walkways, and benches to rest on. There are horses rides available for a few hundred rupees. For the water and fun lovers, you can take a speedboat on the lake. The cool air is lovely on the water and the sights are unbeatable. Gregory Lake was created by Governor William Gregory between 1872 and 1877. It was used for watersports during the British colonial period and is now enjoyed by all and a popular attraction for locals and visitors.
Victoria Park – Nuwara Eliya
Located near Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is Victoria Park, in honor of Queen Victoria’s 60th Jubilee coronation in 1897. The park spreads out on 27 acres of land and is full of foreign trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place for a fresh natural walk. During quiet times, there are plenty of native birds that flock in the trees and birdwatchers can have a great time. There is a small charge to enter the park which goes towards maintaining this lovely natural park.
Ambewela Farm – Nuwara Eliya
The largest and more prestigious dairy farm is also in Nuwara Eliya. Just a little bit out of town and you reach the rolling hills of Ambewela where the cows roam free to graze in turns. Visitors can see the milking stations of the dairy cows and see the calves in the nursery. The cows are well taken care of and the visit is quite pleasant. The farm is pretty big so there is a lot of walking. Drink a fresh glass of milk at the cafe station up the hill and buy some cheese to eat.
Hakgala Botanical Gardens – Nuwara Eliya
The Hakgala Botanical Gardens are believed to be the highest altitude botanical gardens in the world. On the road to Badulla, stop at the green gates and visit the beautifully manicured gardens full of roses and orchids and other plant species.
The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya’s climate provided a sanctuary of the British civil servants, businessmen and planters of old Ceylon.
Nuwara Eliya, called Little England, was 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.
Although the town was founded in the 19th century by the British, the district is today visited by native travelers, especially during April, the season of flowers, pony races, go-cart races and car rally.
New hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Visitors to the city can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone days by visiting the landmark buildings. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period such as the Queen’s Cottage, General’s House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, St Andrew’s Hotel and Town Post Office.
There are a plethora of private homes maintaining old English-style lawns and gardens which adds some special nostalgia and breathtaking vistas.
Nuwara Eliya Climate
Due to its highland location, Nuwara Eliya has a subtropical highland climate, having no pronounced dry season, a monsoon-like cloudy season and with a mean annual temperature of just 16 °C (61 °F).
In the winter months, there can be frost at night, but it warms up rapidly during the day because of the high sun angle.
The majority of the population of Nuwara Eliya city is Sinhalese. There are sizable communities belonging to other ethnic groups, such as Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils.
- Ethnicity (2012) Population
- Sinhala 19,157
- Sri Lankan Tamils 9,557
- Indian Tamils 9,101
- Sri Lankan Moors 4,629
- Other (including Burgher, Malay) 606
English is also widely used by the locals. Sinhala and Tamil are the two major languages spoken in Nuwara Eliya.
Nuwara Eliya Festivals
The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year (13/14 April).
It is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1 annually in a ceremonial manner. The ceremony consists mainly of a band show in which all the local school bands participate.
Main attractions during April include motor and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs, the former being run since 1934.
Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlongs (1811 m) Governor’s Cup at the Nuwara Eliya Racecourse, Golf Tournaments at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, and the flower show at the end of the month.
The Nuwara Eliya Road Race and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract enthusiasts from around the world.
The town’s attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities for seeing species, particularly the Indian blue robin, pied thrush or scaly thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The Kashmir flycatcher is another attractive bird species in the park.
Galway’s Land Bird Sanctuary, close to Lake Gregory, is an area of montane forest a few kilometers east of the town. Covering an area of 0.6 km2 it is home to many bird and mammal species endemic to Sri-Lanka, including wild boar and barking deer.
Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka Golf Club
There is a well-established golf club dating back to the British days and kept in that former glory. You can easily imagine that you are in an English country golf club. Fine meals and comfortable accommodation is available in the clubhouse.
The city is a base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. This is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland. Species found here include the leopard, sambar, and the endemic purple-faced langur. Endemic highland birds include the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and yellow-eared bulbul. The plains have a well-visited tourist attraction at World’s End — a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker’s Falls. Early morning visits are best, both to see the wildlife and to view World’s End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.
Nuwara Eliya’s countryside is ideal for farming and there is widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This “Little England” is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.
The Nuwara Eliya strawberries are simply awesome with fresh local cream.
The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world’s finest orange pekoe tea. Several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.
‘Lovers Leap’ is a spectacular waterfall set among tea plantation a short walk from the town of Nuwara Eliya. It falls a height of 30m in a long cascading sheet of water. It is said that it is named after a young couple who decided to be bound together forever by jumping off the cliff to their demise.
A temple to Hanuman near Nuwara Eliya
A gravestone of Major Thomas William Rogers, (the Government Agent for Badulla District) is in the corner of the golf grounds. He is infamous for having shot, at the very lowest estimate 1,400 wild elephants. Folklore in Nuwara Eliya says that every year his gravestone is struck by lightning for his great sin. This place is not open for the visitors.
Another place related to folklore is the Hindu temple called Seetha Kovil (Hanuman Kovil). It is found on the way to Badulla from Nuwara Eliya before reaching the Hakgala Botanical Garden. The temple is in the village called Seetha Eliya. The area is related to the Ramayana story in Hinduism. Folklore says that the mighty king Ravana kidnapped princess Seeta who was the queen of Rama and hid her where the temple now is.
There is a church called the Holy Trinity Church on Church Road, which accommodates an old graveyard. Most of the gravestones have British names on them.
Nuwara Eliya Hotels
Araliya Green City Hotel – Nuwara Eliya
The First, and at present, only 5 star hotel. Lavish suites with maids rooms or staterooms to suit your requirements. The hotel proudly overlooks the racecourse and is midway between the city centre and Lake Gregory. restaurants are good and there is an international food court for snacks and casual meals.
The Grand Hotel – Nuwara Eliya
Built in 1891 as the home for the governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes, the now Grand Hotel is the perfect place to spend the night the right way in Nuwara Eliya. The hotel has great dining options and a lovely high tea. They can also organize activities like trekking, fishing, and sunrise safaris.
The Grand Hotel, No. 05, Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, +94 522 222 881