About Us

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Nuwara Eliya - Town in the mists

I have mentioned Nuwara Eliya a must go location in my top 10 towns to visit in Sri Lanka, and with good reason. The town is located in the midst of tea estates and misty mountains. Established by the British during colonial times, locals often refer to the town as "Little England".

The trip to Nuwara Eliya started from Colombo on Monday the 26th of Dec 2011, The route we took was via Pinnawala and Kandy, however we did not make a stop at Kandy on this occasion.

On route we made several stops for good pictures and visited the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala (Article Here) and the Rock temple at Kadugannawa.

The route map for which can be seen here

The video clip below is of the entire route from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya via the Gampola Nuwara Eliya Road, that I recorded on this occasion.

The below video, with credit to the original uploader, gives the viewer a great idea of what to expect in the misty mountain top region of Sri Lanka. This is the most amazingly well done video I have seen on YouTube about Nuwara Eliya.

For more information on the town visit

Nuwara Eliya is located 180km east of the capital Colombo. It is situated 6 128 feet above sea level, at the heart of the central hills of Sri Lanka. The region has an all year round pleasant climate of around 12-20 degrees Celsius during the day and 5-10 degrees Celsius during the night. You may want to pack a jumper or something warm, if you plan to visit the city.

How to get there

By Road

There are many ways to get to Nuwara Eliya, I personally prefer going by car, as it means I can stop where I want and take pictures where I want. The drive up is very scenic and full of good views. There is always many routes to get there, the most frequently used route is the Kandy - Gampola - Nuwara Eliya Road, (the A5). The other one is the less used as such less busy route via Avissawella and Ginigathena (the A7). Both routes are equally scenic.

The journey from Colombo via road can take up to and beyond 5 hours as the roads are very windy, as such you would be lucky to get up to the 70KMPH speed limit. On the ocassions that I have travelled on both these roads, my average speed has been somewhat between 40-50KMPH.

That said the most time consuming part perhaps is getting from Colombo to Kandy on the A1 / A5 route or to Avissawella on the other.

Personally I prefer the A7 route, as it takes you past many waterfalls and a few other famous spots.

The below video shows my Journey along the A5 to Nuwara Eliya from Kandy.

By Rail or Bus

I am not going to spend much time on this topic as others have covered this in great detail, and one of the sites that I found very informative was this . The site gives the reader a good understanding of the fares, the times, and durations of travel by Train.

As for the bus, you need to get the route 79 from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, which can be caught from the Fort Central Bus station. For more information on bus routes in Sri Lanka click here

The below video gives you an idea of what to expect on the train from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya via Kandy. Credit to the original uploader.

By Air

Sri Lankan Airlines offers an Air Taxi service from Colombo and a few other destinations in the Island to Nuwara Eliya, please find more information on this here

The video below shows you what to expect, credit goes to the original uploader again.

Good Photo spots and Points of Interest En-route 

Kandy-Nuwara Eliya (Gampola Road)

Gampola - Ambuluwawa Hill and Temple

Ramboda Pass

Kotmale Tank

Labookelle tea center 

link to official web site

Colombo-Avisawella-Hatton-Nuwara Eliya Road

Kithulgala River

Devon Falls

Below area some images I took of Devon Falls some time back. The view is rather spectacular, and is certainly worth a stop. For more information pictures and location map click here

St Clairs Falls

St. Clair's Tea Centre

Watawala Plantations Limited The Tea Cup

Getting around

Within the town it self everything is within walking distance and as the climate is quite mild you hardly feel tired. That said if you prefer to get a ride around there are plenty of Tuk Tuks around (if you are not driving).

I personally prefer to walk around, as you get to see more that way. There are also buses that you can take from the town centre to most of the sites of interest, apart from Horton Plains National Park, and New Zealand Farm.

What to see

Within the city limits

Queen Victoria Park

Located in the centre of the town, Victoria Park is said to have been named to comorate the 60th Jubilee Coronation of Queen Victoria, in 1879. The park covers an area of  27 acres, most plant life in the park are of foreign origins.

The park is very beautifully laid out and is very scenic during the summer periods (Apr - Sep), however there are no seasons in Sri Lanka.

Below are some images of some of the flowering plants you will see in the park

I struggled to find any pictures of the park that I took my self, as such please see this Flicker Album Here that another photographer has done. Great work !

Gregory's Lake 

On the door step of the town is the rather large man made Gregory's lake. It was built by the the Governor of Ceylon during 1872 – 1877, William Gregory. The lake gets its water from Nanuoya  (a river) which runs past the town. The lake covers an area of around 91 hectares. There is a boating club at the lake, which also offers peddle boats for those of you who would want to go peddling in the lake. My verdict is, the lake is certainly a must go place, if not for a relaxing stroll then for the scenic beauty and the countless photo opportunities. Reviews here on Tripadvisor

The Ceylon Breweries

Lover's Leap


Pidurutalagala also known as Mount Pedro, standing at a height of 2524M is the highest peak in Sri Lanka. At the summit are Government Communication and Radar posts, and is guarded by a military base. Making it an off limits area for most people. However the mountain is visible from near Lake Gregory and from other parts of the town.

Mt Pedro as seen from banks of Lake Gregory
Mount Pedro Seen from Lake Gregory

Single tree hill

Single tree hill is located just outside the town centre near Lake Gregory. It rises 2100M above sea leve, and is the 9th highest point in the island. The climb from Nuwara Eliya takes around  30-40 mins to reach the summit. Once at the top the views are truely amazing. The ascent is through a tea estate, as seen below. You can cheat some what by driving up most parts of it if you wish. But the hill offers a good trek. Below are some views from the Hill. 

View from mid point
Parts of Nuwara Eliya town 

Tea Estate on Single Tree Hill

Seetha Temple

Nuwara Eliya Golf Course

At the heart of the town is located the picturesque Nuwara Eliya Golf Course (Link here for pictures credit to Lankaputra Travels). Below are some pictures I took from the Golf Club cafe, which is a good place to go for a morning tea or a mid morning club sandwich. The Golf Club also provides accommodation, which I should say was decent, and I stayed there in 2010 (when the below images were taken). I found this article on trip advisor where you can read reviews by other travellers regarding the accommodation element. My verdict is that for the prices they charged, the service and the quality of the rooms were decent.

Little hut made as a Christmas decoration
Garden chairs on lawn of the cafe

Christmas decorations and golfer in
the distance

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Sri Lanka, and the oldest in Nuwara Eliya. The hotel is located near Victoria Park. The hotel was founded in the late 1890's and consists of over 150 luxury rooms. The hotel currently has a four star rating, and is a must visit location even if it is for a cup of tea. Walking through the hotel is like a passage through time, as its original architecture and feel has been well preserved over the years.

A few images below curtsey of flicker stream.

Nuwara Eliya - Grand HotelNuwara Eliya - Grand HotelNuwara Eliya - Grand HotelNuwara Eliya - Grand HotelNuwara Eliya - Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel, a gallery on Flickr.

Official web site here

Within a short drive

Horton Plains National Park

Bakers falls

Hakgala Botanical gardens

Strawberry Centre

Nanu Oya Station

Kande Ela Forest
The forest as seen from the banks of the Meepilimana Reservoir

Meepilimana reservoir

New Zealand Farms

Green grass pastures for the cows
Mist shrouded grass lands
Cattle grazing in the misty morning

Grass lands where the cattle graze
 Cafe, before you get to the main farm 

Pedro Tea factory

Macwoods Tea Factory and Outlet

Sample Itinerary

I would personally spend between 3-4 days in Nuwara Eliya area in order to cover all the sites that are relevant. Where day 1 and day 4 are travelling in and out of Nuwara Eliya, assuming that your starting and ending destination is Colombo

Day 1

Assuming that you have made your journey up from Colombo on Day 1, visiting many of the location listed above on the Kany - Nuwara Eliya route, you should still have some day light left to explore the town, and maybe finish off with tea at the grand hotel or the grand hotel cafe.

There is little to do in town at night, and the roads do get very misty by around 7PM. As such I would not advise travelling anywhere out side of town too late. Get a early night, as you should probably visit Horton Plains National Park on Day 2

Day 2

If you do intend to visit Horton Plains it is vital that you get up very early and set off to reach around 7 am, this means leaving Nuwara Eliya town at around 6:15AM. The reason for this is to get a chance to see the precipice at Worlds End, which is a steep drop mentioned in the section about Horton Plains National Park. However you should plan this journey based on the weather conditions for that day.

The trek should take you up to lunch time, and as such you should probably take a packed lunch, or stop off at the farm cafe at Ambewela farms, which is on the way back. More information on it above in the section on this.

The Nanu Oya rail station is also a good place for some great photos, which is also on the way to and from the National Park.

You should also stop off at the Meepiliama Reservoir and Kande Ela forest, both of which make for good photos, and are very scenic spots. More information on both these spots above. If time permits, also visit the strawberry farm which is located a short distance away from the this.

This should take you to the end of day 2.

Day 3

You should start off the day by visiting Lake Gregory, and Single Tree Hill, both of which offer fantastic views, more information in the section above. If time permits you should go for a drive around the lake, or perhaps go peddle boating.

Your next stop should be Victoria Park, which should take you to around lunch time (1-2pm). Why not try one of the food out lets in town, there are a few located in the main street. Refer to the section on where to eat for more information on this.

After lunch you should visit Hakgala Gardens, for more information see the section above. There are  a few good photo spots on the way, including a hindu temple and lush tea estates. This should take you to the end of the day.

Day 4

Start the trip back to Colombo early in the morning, use the A7 route, rather than the A5 refer to section above on routes. This will allow you to see and photograph many of the spots mentioned in the list in the section above. Do stop off at the tea pot for a mid morning tea.

You should stop for lunch at Kithulgala rest house. Which offers a stunning view of the Kithulgala river, more information on this above.

Click here to get a list of events taking place in Nuwara Eliya in April 2012

Where to stay

Cocoon resorts have offered a special deal for all 3 luxury boutique properties (Induruwa , Kosgoda & Nuwara Eliya).

Validity 18 April - 30 September 2012

- 2 nights stay at Cocoon Resorts, Induruwa and 2 nights stay at Cocoon Hills, Nuwara Eliya (total 4 nights) proce US$ 1010 nett per dbl room on HB basis
- 2 nights stay at Cocoon Sea Resorts, Kosgoda  and 2 nights stay at Cocoon Hills, Nuwara Eliya (total 4 nights) proce US$ 765 nett per dbl room on HB basis
** Compulsory two nights utilization of each properly **

Tea Trails has also given a special offer. This is the latest press release announcing the new positioning of Ceylon Tea Trails as the no 1 all inclusive resort in Asia &  4th in the world, for four consecutive years which is a remarkable achievement.

The annual Sami Komadu festival (Hindu temple festival) in the tea plantation areas are usually between March & April each year. Each temple celebrates this occasion individually. This is a festival of music during the day on certain days during these months (the days are not specified in advance); it is advisable to keep your readers informed of the above since sound carries clearly in the valley and can be disturbing to some guests staying at the Tea Trails.

More information here

Back To Top