The ‘Hill Country’ or ‘Up Country’ are terms broadly used to describe the mountainous regions of the centre of Sri Lanka. Covered with tea plantations and National Parks, this vast expanse is home to some of the most unique accommodation in the country and the cool climate provides a beautiful contrast to the often scorching coastline, a favorite retreat to escape the heat of the lowlands. It is misty and rainy much of the year – but a strange and atmospheric step back into colonial history.
Places to visit in the Hill Country
World Heritage Cultural hub of Kandy
The rich heritage of the island country is obvious from the attractions of Kandy. While the old monarchy is represented by the palace and the manmade lake, the influence of the colonial rule is evident in its architecture.
A major attraction in Kandy, Sri Dalada Maligawa, as it is known locally, has a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. The tooth is put on public display once every six years. The temple dates back to the 16th century. Its most sacred relic the tooth is housed in a casket made out of solid gold and its most magnificent festival, pageant the “Esala Perahera” takes place during July and Aug every year. It’s also the undisputed arts and crafts capital of the island, filled with myriad temples and palaces built in the distinctive Kandyan architectural style.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage are places you should not miss to visit while in Kandy,
Magnificent Adams Peak
The fifth highest mountain of the island, 7360 ft (2243 meters) the magnificent Adams Peak is rising in solitary splendor above the surrounding hills.
The mountain peak has been sacred and pilgrimage for centuries amongst the Sinhalese, the impression on the bare rock at its summit that is popularly claimed to be a footprint made by the Lord Buddha himself during one of his three legendary visits to the island. It was then during early 20th century, truly adventures climb that Buddhist pilgrims were ready to sacrifice their lives in order to worship the impression of Lord Buddha’s footprint imprinted on the tip of the mountain amidst chilling weather. The pilgrimage season starts from the full moon day in Dec until the Wesak (the full moon day in May) of the following year. Arriving to the summit in time for dawn, one has the best chance, if weather permits, of seeing the spectacular and extraordinary sunrise, whereby the rising sun casts a perfectly triangular shadow of the peak’s summit which hangs miraculously suspended in mid-air for 20 minutes or so. This bizarre phenomenon has yet to be satisfactorily explained, but is commonly taken by visiting Buddhists as proof of the mountain’s extraordinary supernatural qualities.
The miraculous Horton Plains, the World’s End
Horton Plains has been recognized as one of the best nature reserves in the world. A World Heritage Site, the Horton Plains National Park is situated on the southern edge of the central highlands midway between Nuwara Eliya and Haputale. This picturesque location is Sri Lanka’s highest plateau where the land rises up to 2500 meters above sea level. Horton Plains, named after the British Governor, Sir Robert Horton (1831 – 37) is home to a wide variety of flora numbering 57 species of which 29 are endemic to Sri Lanka. So it is with the fauna with 24 species of mammals and 87 species of birds including many migratory birds. A set of four stamps was released on September 7, 2010 featuring four rare species as a continuation of the series depicting National Parks of Sri Lanka. Many go to Horton Plains to see World’s End, considered the finest view in all of Sri Lanka. It is a five kilometre walk from where the motorable road ends. The steep slope drops vertically for about 1,000 feet (328 meters) and falls away almost as steeply for another 4,000 feet (1,312m). The view is fabulous in the early morning when a crescent of silver – the Indian Ocean – rims the horizon 50 miles (81km) to the south. A heat haze may obscure the view later in the day. During the southwest monsoon, the only view is boiling, vaporous clouds in all directions.
Renowned worldwide, Ceylon tea is one of Sri Lanka’s primary exports. It all started when British-born James Taylor first began developing Ceylon tea at the country’s first tea estate, Loolecondera, in 1867. Located in Kandy’s hill-country, the estate’s tea plantations soon spawned a tea factory and Sri Lanka’s tea industry has been growing ever since.
Nuwara Eliya, best known for its tea. Due to its geo climatic attributes, Nuwara Eliya is known to produce tea of particularly fine quality. With the highest altitudes at over 6,000 ft, cool climes, and moderate rainfall the region possesses a highly conducive environment for tea cultivation. There are two seasons that arrive here namely the eastern and the western, and the climatic conditions vary from one estate to another although located short drives apart. The liqueur produced from unusually small leaves characteristic of the region, is the lightest among the rest.
Ella, the Charming Village with Breathtaking Vista
Ella is a peaceful small village in the middle of a beautiful green countryside, with spectacular views! On a clear day, you can even see the glow from the lighthouses along the southern coast.
Ella is nestled in a valley at about 1000m elevation, surrounded by even higher mountains. The hills surrounding Ella are all covered with farmland growing vegetables, tea plantations, and rice fields, all making the landscape very lush and green, an English country hamlet – one of the finest views in an island that is full of unforgettable panoramas.