Sri Lanka // Kandy and the hill country //

Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka’s highest town, NUWARA ELIYA lies at the heart of the southern hill country, set amid a bowl of green mountains beneath the protective gaze of Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s tallest peak. Nuwara Eliya (pronounced, as one word, something like “Nyur-rel-iya”) was established by the British in the nineteenth century, and the town is often touted as Sri Lanka’s “Little England”, a quaint Victorian relic complete with municipal park, golf course, boating lake, a trio of fine old colonial hotels and frequent, very British, showers of rain.

Parts of Nuwara Eliya still live up to the hype, with a medley of doughty British-era landmarks whose misplaced architecture – from jaunty seaside kitsch to solemn faux-Tudor – lend some corners of the town an oddly English (or perhaps Scottish) air, like a crazily transplanted fragment of Brighton or Balmoral. Much of modern Nuwara Eliya, however, is far less of a period piece than the publicity would have you believe, while the unpredictable weather can add a further dampener. That said, if you take it with a pinch of salt, Nuwara Eliya still has a certain charm, especially if you can afford to stay in one of the town’s nicer hotels, and it also makes an excellent base for excursions into the spectacular surrounding countryside and tea estates.

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