A lot of tea and a bit of Ramayana in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is not the name that automatically pops up in your mind, when you talk about Sri Lanka. One keeps talking about Colombo, Galle or Kandy. But Nuwara Eliya is an important tourist place in central Sri Lanka. Its very close o Kandy. One can assume the importance of this place by the fact that it finds place in three of Sri Lanka’s tourist circuits- the tea circuit, the colonial circuit and the Ramayana circuit. Indian tourist will certainly find the last one very interesting. What’s more interesting is that Nuwara Eliya is the coolest area in the Sri Lanka, a sort of hill station for the emerald island at an altitude of 1868 metres.
Nuwara Eliya is very picturesque with a temperate climate. The city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. Surrounding hills have many beautiful waterfalls such as this one below.
When we move from Kandy and cross Peradeniya Botanical Gardens towards Nuwara Eliya, one thing becomes distinct is the tea plantations on both sides. Nuwara Eliya was liked by the britishers for this due to its temperate and cool climate. Hence Nuwara Eliya is now home to some of the finest quality of tea in Sri Lanka and for that matter in world.
While moving towards Nuwara Eliya you will find many local tea plantation workers holding fresh tea twigs in their hands for tourists to take quick photographs and make some quick bucks in the return for the pose (like image below).
But, nevertheless the tea plantations on both the sides make a beautiful view and will often remind us of views back home in Munnar or Darjeeling.
Workers inside the Mackwoods, one of the finest Ceylon Tea, founded way back in 1841. It has more than 27,000 acres of tea and rubber plantations.
But what Indian tourists find here interesting is the mythological association to Hindus. Well, Lanka was always there in Indian epics like Ramayana as the place where King Ravana lived. Nuwara Eliya is considered to be the place where Ravana kept Lord Rama’s wife Sita as a prisoner in ‘Ashok Vatika’. Hence, this is the place where Hanuman also came to meet Sita with a message from Rama. So on way to Nuwara Eliya, you will find this Hanuman Temple (below). This is managed by Chinmay Mission of Sri Lanka.
But what’s more interesting is the Seetha Amman temple in Nuwara Eliya dedicated to Sita. Many tamil hindus and tourists visit this temple very often. It has got a steady stream of visitors. The temple has a typical tamil architectural style. It resembles many temples in Tamil Nadu. Sanctorum has idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshman and the temple architecture depicts many other events from the epic. Few photos from the temple-
Further interesting is the spot behind the temple near a water stream, where few holes on the rocks are attributed to Hanuman. It is said that these are footmarks of Hanuman and were created when the monkey god took a stride and jumped big in air to leap across. The spot has been marked yellow to make it easier for the devotees to identify it (images below)
But indeed the credit for developing this place goes to the britishers. It is therefore called as ‘Little England’. Climate of Nuwara Eliya reminded britishers of the climate back home. That’s the reason that this town has got a feel of an English country village. There are still many colonial hotels and buildings, such as Queen’s cottage, General’s House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club and the Town Post Office. Many private homes have also maintained their old English style lawns and gardens.
Nuwara Eliya also has a beautiful golf course, quite obvious for British retreats. Indeed worth a visit (below).
Nuwara Eliya means ‘City of Light’ or ‘City on the Plain’ (table land). It gets its peak of tourists inflow in April during Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. Victoria Park is also a very popular spot in the city. Nuwara Eliya is also the base for visits to Horton Plains National Park which is just around 30 kilometres from the city.