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Nuwara Eliya

 
Nuwara Eliya Town Square
 
The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played.

Although the town was founded in the 19th century by Englishmen, the site was frequently visited by native Sinhalese travellers. It has also been an area of pre-historic human beings as recent archaeological findings confirm.

Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period, and even new hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. The Hill Club is one of the best preserved hotels, and charges admission for non-residents who wish to wallow in its nostalgia. Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
 
 
Climate
Due to the high altitude, Nuwara Eliya has a much cooler climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C. But the temperature changes and sometimes it can be like 3°C. In the winter months it is quite cold at night, and there can even be frost. although it rapidly warms up as the tropical sun climbs higher during the day.
 
Festivals
The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, and it is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1st 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 season include the numerous motor racing and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs, the former being run since 1934. The Nuwara Eliya Road Race and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract a fair share of enthusiasts. Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlong (1811 m) Governor's Cup, and the flower show at the end of the month.
 
Queen Victoria Park
The Victoria Park of Nuwara Eliya said to be named to comorate the 60th Jubilee Coronation of Queen Victoria in the year 1897. Originally the park was used as the research field of Haggala Botanical Garden which is located about 04 km away from the city centre. It is known that this park was established by planting an Oak tree by a German Princes who visited Nuwara Eliya at the latter part of the 19th Century.
The park is 27 acres in extent and about 90% of the tree species available are those of foreign plants.

Nanu Oya which flows through the park and a number of lakes within it enhances its beauty. A large number of rare bird species can be found in the park. The park is a great tourist attraction in Nuwara Eliya. It was estimated that over 100,000 local visitors as well as around 4000 – 5000 foreign tourists visit the Victoria Park every year.

Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities it gives to see Indian Blue Robin, Pled Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. Kashmir Flycatcher is another attractive bird species found in the park
 
Gregory Lake
 
 

Lake Gregory is one of the significant tourist attractions in Nuwara Eliya. It was built by the Governor William Gregory during 1872 – 1877 periods by utilizing the water from the Nanuoya which runs across the town. It is about 91.2 hectares in extent. It was said to be used for water sports and for re-recreational activities during the British rule. A boat yard now allows visitors to go boating and rowing.

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 it gives to see various species, particularly the Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The Kashmir Flycatcher is another attractive bird species found in the park.

Galway's Land Bird Sanctuary, close to Lake Gregory, is another wildlife site of 0.6 km². The town 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 also has a well-visited tourist attraction at World's End, a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker 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.

One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the 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 slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest
Orange Pekoe tea, and several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.

Although not strictly an attraction, the Grand Hotel (Nuwara Eliya) is the former British
governor's mansion, now in the ownership of Tangerine Hotels and one of the most
prestigious hotels outside of Colombo. The charming colonial era building is over a 100 years old.

 
Other interesting places
 
A temple to Hanuman near Nuwara Eliya (Close proximity of the Rose Mount Bungalow) One is a grave stone of one British governor located in the very corner of the golf grounds. He was famous for elephant hunting and it says that he killed thousands of elephants. Folklore in Nuwara Eliya says that every year his gravestone is struck by lightning for the great sin that he did. At present 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 located 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 Seetha who was the queen of Rama
 
Haggala Botanical Garden
10 km on the Badulla Road. The Garden was first established in 1860 under the curatorship of three Britishers of the same name - William Nock, JK Nocl and JJ Nock. It lies under the Hakgala Peak, between 5000-6000 feet in elevation - the highest set Botanical Gardens in the world. It boasts 100 year old Monetary Cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.

The Botanical Garden is first as a cinchona plantation and then adapted to an experimental garden for the acclimatization of plants from temperate zones in the tropics. Here can be found all the flowers of an English cottage garden in spring and summer, and much else besides - such as the oldest tea-bush in the island, an ornamental pond and quaint summerhouse. Hakgala (Jaw Rock) rises a sheet 1500 ft/460 meters and offers one of the most stunning views ever. Legend says it was part of the Himalayas carried here by the Monkey God - Hanuman in his quest to help God-Rama rescue Goddess - Sita from the demon king - Ravana. Sita-Eliya, site of Sita's imprisonment, stands a mere mile away, with the 'Sita Amman Kovil' close by.
 
 
Horton Plains
 
Nuwara-Eliya is the town base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. The journey from Nuwara- Eliya to Horton Plains only takes an hour. Horton Plains National Park is the only Nations Park situated in the hill country and the highest plateau in the island consisting of grassland interspersed with patches of forest, with some unusual high altitude vegetation and an excellent excursion and a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and bird watching.
 
It falls within the Nuwara-Eliya District 200Km away from Colombo, the capital city. The panoramic beauty of the hill country is witnessed within the park. The Plains are a beautiful, silent, strange world with some excellent walks.

The grassy plains still host many other wild lives. Species found here include Leopard, Sambar and the endemic Purple-faced Langur. Endemic highland birds include Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Yellow-eared Bulbul.

The most stunning place is the World's End, where the southern Horton Plains suddenly ends, and drops off to nearly 1050 meters, when is an awesome sight indeed. This shear drop offers a breathtaking view of the land below on clear days. This is a favorite place fro trekkers, as there are plenty of soft and hard trails.

Early morning visits are essential, both to see the wildlife and to view World's End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.

Flora - Trees & shrubs; up to now 744 species of flowering plants has been identified in the area out of which 112 species are endemic, and 78 species are identified to be endangered. Being a grassland more than 50 species of grass has been identified, majority of which are endemic.

Fauna - 460 species of birds are recorded to be found in Sri Lanka, out of which 33 species are endemic - out of this number more than 100 species are confined to Horton Plains. 12 endemic species of these birds can be seen in Horton Plains. Mammals - more than 10 species of mammals could be seen in the area, and apart from these, some species of reptiles, amphibians and butterflies could be seen in the area.
   
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