Nuwara Eliya is a unique spot in Sri Lanka where it doesn’t look like a part of Sri Lanka at all. It is a tourist city that has earned the nickname “Little England” because of the colonial architecture and cooler climate since it is nestled on Sri Lanka’s pleasant Hill Country. The mystical island-nation of Sri Lanka was once a colony of the Portuguese, Dutch and British people and the influences of these Western nations are most apparent and pretty much alive still in Nuwara Eliya.
Since the colonial times, Little England is clearly Sri Lanka’s premier hill resort and pleasure retreat, if only for the fact that it is situated at approximately 2,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by verdant tea plantations. It is not difficult to imagine the colonial powers and European planters coming here for rest and recreation, away from the warm and muggy tropical climate in Colombo or Galle, and chill in this English town with many European-style houses and buildings. Local tourists also come here to escape the tropical heat, especially in the months of March through May when it is hottest. The busiest month in Nuwara Eliya is April.
Nuwara Eliya is irrefutably the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea industry since the industry began in the mid 19th century. Today, the country is one of the world’s leading tea exporters, thanks to this city. Visitors coming to the city are treated to a picturesque and aromatic view of wide tea plantations that run for miles even before reaching the city. In the city, there are several factories and sales outlets that welcome tourists for viewing and buying cheap tea. A leading example is Pedro Tea Factory, which offers a scenic and educational tour through its hilly plantation.
Once in the city, tourists may enjoy many exciting activities other than the tea and cool climate. There are places to go play golf, horseback riding, hiking, boating, and sightseeing. The city offers landscaped gardens, waterfalls and lush plateaus. Some of the most popular tourist spots are the colonial Post Office building, pleasant Victoria Park, Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Horton Plain, World’s End, Lake Gregory, Single Tree Mountain (that offers an amazing view of the city) and many picturesque waterfalls, such as Aberdeen Falls, Baker’s Falls, Bambarakanda Ella Falls, Bridal Falls, Dunhinda Falls, Diyaluma Falls, St. Claire’s Falls, Ravana Ella, Laxapana Falls, and Lovers Leap. The best restaurants are St. Andrew’s Hotel and the Hill Club.
To get to this exciting and relaxing city, visitors usually take a train from Colombo or Kandy to nearby Nanu Oya. The trip itself is very picturesque. There are also several buses from Colombo that go to Nanu Oya or directly to Nuwara Eliya. Getting here by bus, however, may take five to six hours because of heavy traffic. The train is as slow because of the meandering old tracks. The best way to do it is to consider the trip a part of the tour and enjoy the view along the way. There are a number of first-class and budget accommodations in the city, and visitors shouldn’t worry where to stay.