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Magical countryside

Most initial impressions of Sri Lanka are those of palm-lined beaches and azure seas. But Nuwara Eliya stands as a mystic counterpoint to these primary notions.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2011 03:11 IST
Anushree Chatterjee

Most initial impressions of Sri Lanka are those of palm-lined beaches and azure seas. But Nuwara Eliya stands as a mystic counterpoint to these primary notions. Stationed at a dizzying 6,000-odd feet above the Sri Lankan waters, Nuwara Eliya is simply the ‘city on a plain’.

Here, it’s hard to believe you’re so close to home. Traipsing across a country that’s three-and-a-half hours away, I actually felt transported to one that’s enviably positioned in the temperate belt. No surprise then that Nuwara Eliya is called ‘Little England’. First, the salubrious climate; second, the charm of the British-mimic structures; and third, the tea!

The highlight of my trip to Nuwara was Horton Plains. Silent, un-worldly and even paranormal — Horton Plains is an unimaginable and indelible experience. This is the highest plateau on the Lankan island. It’s essentially a national park which consists of widespread grasslands, patches of densely wooded forests, streams and waterfalls. Within this natural haven are housed some unusual wildlife (I spotted elk!), bird species like the Sri Lanka White-eye and rare high altitude vegetation. And amidst this natural abundance is a trekking trail that rewards those who submit to it with unforgettable treats. The most stunning part of this trail is World’s End, where the plains suddenly drop down to a good 1,000-odd metres. The precipice marks the end of the world, but it’s just half the trek done. The rewards on the way continue with Baker’s Falls, a scenic spot where a roaring waterfall provides cool, clear drinking water to trekkers, kids and Buddhist monks. Indeed, paradise on Earth!

All set to leave?
Nuwara Eliya is about 180 km from Colombo and 76 km from Kandy. The Mumbai–Colombo– Mumbai airfare is R16,000 (approx). And Horton Plains can be reached by jeep from the main town of Nuwara Eliya.

Getting there: Book one of the many flights to Colombo, through numerous travel portals.