The climate here is considerably cooler, this is due to the high elevation at an altitude of approximately 1868m, and the mist rolls in across the tea region. Nurawa Eliya is nicknamed little England for two reasons, the weather here is cooler, very similar to weather expected in England and when the British came to Sri Lanka, they built their houses to represent their houses back in England. I guess this is to do with creature comforts. Nuwara Eliya is known as the tea plantation regions!
When the British first arrived, it was an uninhabited area with forests and meadows. It was soon found that fruit and vegetables such as strawberries could be grown here. The British first started to grow coffee in the region but was soon too die out because of disease. The British then went on to try and grow tea, which grew and flourished, to which it continues today. This is what Nuwara Eliya is known for the tea! The British brought the Tamils from Southern India to work on the tea plantations. Many of the tea workers ancestors worked here just as they do, and will continue for generations. Please note the Tamils brought from Southern India, are different to the Tamils Sri Lankans from the north. The busiest and expensive month to travel to Nuwara Eliya is April, many locals and travellers come here for the new year celebrations. Although this is the busiest month, this is also the month for horse races and many other activities.
Nuwara Eliya isn’t just about tea but is a big part of it, so here are some things to do:
Price: Approximately Rs200
There are many tea plantations in this region, we went to Predo tea factory which is a well-known tea plantation and factory with 176.02 hectares of land and tea bushes. We had a tour of the factory and got to see how the tea is made from the moment it is plucked from the tea bushes to the moment we drink the tea. The tour consists of someone showing us around for approximately 20 minutes, explaining every process, it is first plucked and brought into the factory to be rolled, dried, packed and then shipped off for which you may be purchasing them from your local store. Pedro makes a very light tea, and for the best results, the tea process happens in the evening and overnight when the temperatures really drop. This being said, we still saw some workers rolling and drying the tea. Before entering the factory, you are required to wear an apron and a hair hat for obvious reasons. The tour guide also advises of the different types of tea which are made, and an opportunity to buy some at the end of the tour. At Pedro, there is also no tours within the actual tea plantations, but we did explore a little of the grounds around the factory which has tea bushes as far as the eyes can see.
Nuwara Eliya Golf Club
Price:Round of golf Rs6000-7500
Golf lovers will want to visit here. We are not huge golf fans but coming here felt like going back in time, as the exterior of the clubhouse hasn’t changed much since it was built, and some of the insides of the clubhouse look dated but it is set in with the feel of the place. When you walk into the bar and inside the lounge area, there is the smell from the fireplace which will be lit on cold evenings. This smell is difficult to explain, but for me it brings back memories of my younger years, living in a house with just a fireplace to keep us warm in the evenings in just one room in the house. We stayed late enough for us to witness the fire being lit, once the fire is lit, it is a relaxing sight watching the flames take hold of the firewood and lap up into the chimney. There is the library with trophies and a TV to sit back watch something or read a book. What is more of a surprise is the changing facilities and toilets. Walking into the ladies with the lockers comfortable chairs a blocked up fireplace with its original features trying to come through, before walking into the toilets and shower facilities very Victorian era coming through.
There are dining rooms, function rooms and even a snooker room. Best time to visit is early afternoon/evening to have a cup of tea and a piece of cake. If you stay late enough then you can watch the fireplace set alight. The only negative is afternoon tea the cake selection may not be a lot or we only had the one option which was banana cake.
The golf course itself has a full 18 hole course and very much up to date with full regular members. It is advised to wrap up warm as the afternoons get cold. There is also accommodation available here for a reasonable amount of approximately Rs9500 in season.
Racecourse and park
When we visited the Race Course it just looked overgrown, with ponies grazing on the grass. This is transformed into a well maintain race course in the month of April ready for the horse race day which happens once a year in the same month, this brings out the tea plantation owners to witness this very typical British event. Sinhala and Tamil new year celebrations on the 14th April annually brings people from far and wide to Nuwara Eliya, for the cooler temperatures and the games and activities played. The race course was built by the British when they were in the region and remains a prominent scene in the area.
Just adjacent to the race course is a lovely lake with a park surrounding, this is a great place for a stroll with the family, or as a couple. The park is well maintained and is also a perfect opportunity to get out for a run and exercise.
Price:Train: 1st class: Rs1000, 2nd class: Rs450, 3rd class: Rs270 From Colombo to Nuwara Eliya
The closest train station to Nuwara Eliya is Nano-Oya. This is about 8-10 hour train journey from Colombo and about 3-5 hours to Kandy but is one beautiful journey and one of the most scenic train rides in Sri Lanka. We travelled via train from Colombo to Kandy, then from Kandy we hired a van to take us to Nuwara Eliya, for one night, we then got the van to take us to Nano-Oya train station to which we took the journey back from Nano-Oya to Colombo. We personally travelled 1st class which is more expensive but so much more comfortable with air-conditioning. This is in high demand so best to book in advance. You can purchase 2nd and 3rd class tickets but these are less comfortable and potential that you won’t get a seat. We were not really wanting to stand for 8-10 hour journey. The trains in Sri Lanka have the doors open, which many travellers on the train can be seen standing at the door holding on. We don’t get this back home so was something we had to do. The advantage of standing at the door is the amazing views, and if you can’t stand then sitting on the floor with the legs hanging out of the door is a must. The majority of our trip consisted of being in the door, watching the view and the air blowing through our hair. As the train gets closer to Colombo, the train can go quite fast, and of course, the views are not as glorious as before.
Places to stay
We stayed in a family members bungalow, for one night. In the bungalow instead of air-conditioning, they had heaters to keep us warm in the cold temperatures, and we most definitely needed it. Accommodation is easily available throughout Nuwara Eliya, so check out what is available online according to your budget.
Places to eat
We purchased all our food from Cargills and cooked at the bungalow. This is the cheapest and healthier way to eat rather than eating out.
Should you need any help or advise on travelling to Nuwara Eliya and Sri Lanka, then please contact us.
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