Sri Lanka – Kandy, Nuwara Eliya

Day 4 (Kandy – Nuwara Eliya)

We woke up late and then set out at 9 looking for some breakfast. We sat down at Golden Cafe, which is opposite a big mosque in the Market area.

The owner was extremely helpful and helped us order dosas and vadas, served with sambar and sambol. After the food I had the best tea ever and would recommend everyone to try this little cafe. Checking out of Olde Empire we reached the Bus Station by 11am and then hopped into an AC minibus to Nuwara Eliya. Bus tickets cost 220LKR each. First part of the journey takes you through small villages before the road starts winding up into the hills. Shortly after starting the ascend, lush green tea estates start filling up the scapes and you are transported into a pleasantly cold place, far off from humid Colombo and sunny Kandy. N Eliya and the surroundings are dotted with hundreds of tea estates of which we found the Labukele & Pedro estates to be the biggest ones. The bus reaches Nuwara Eliya in about 2.30 hrs.

Around 2pm we checked into the family-run Green Garden hotel and got a double room for 2200LKR per night. Nuwara Eliya is quite cold, so the hot shower was quite refreshing. Since it was quite late, and also raining we simply decided to walk around the small town and have lunch. Nuwara Eliya has tons of colonial charm, complete with half-timber buildings and the lush green Victoria Park and the Golf Course. The cold weather only complements this setting and we had fun walking around the city. We also stopped in the Desilva restaurant for some tea & snacks. The Fruit tart here is worth a try. Later we purchased some more tea from the Pushpa tea shop, where one of the men in the shop has his kids studying in Pune. We learnt a few more things about tea and started walking back to our hotel. Cold weather and warm blankets make you very sleepy and I was already snoring by 10pm.

Day 5 (Hortons Plains – World’s End – Nuwara Eliya)

Half Timbered buildings

Half Timbered buildings

A trip to Sri Lanka is definitely not complete without a visit to the World’s end, a fantabulous vantage point to watch the country from a height of more than 1000 metres. On a clear day you are able to see right up to the Indian Ocean! Day 5 began very early – at 5am since we needed to reach the World’s end before it got covered by mist. Our driver Wijesooriya was at the hotel to pick us up at 5am and soon we were on the way to the plains. No Asian discount here either and we paid a hefty 5400LKR for me, Manali, driver & car. We got down at the visitor centre where their pet Sambar deer greeted us.

The 9km trail that covers the Worlds end starts from behind the Visitors’ center. It’s a circular trail and we took the direction that takes us to World’s end soonest. The trail, mostly flat is very enjoyable since the weather is pleasant. All around you, the world is full of shades of greens and reds – even the soil has beautiful shades of red & yellow. After about 2.5km we came across ‘Mini Worlds End’ which gives an awesome glimpse of the actual thing. Another half an hour and we were at ‘the place’. The view from here is completely un-describable. If you find the picture interesting, think of it as just the tip of the iceberg. The ecstasy of such a beautiful view is matched, in my opinion only by a morning sight of cloud covered peaks of the Kalsubai Sahyadris and watching the sun setting in front of the Kokan Kada. Several hikers had already reached before us and everyone was busy compressing nature’s beauty into several megabytes. Strangely all of the other hikers were foreigners, even though we saw scores of Indian & Sri Lankan tourists in Nuwara Eliya.

Horton’s Plains

We resumed the trail and after a couple more kilometres there is a descent for viewing the Baker Falls. The cool droplets from the fall drove away exhaustion and we were back on the trail. The part of the trail after the falls passes through the best of the plains, with grasslands all around you, bisected only by a gushing stream and thick forests far in view – very scenic indeed. By 12pm we were back at the Visitors’ Centre and shortly after that started back to N Eliya. On the way our driver spotted a few herds of Sambar. Though they were far off it was a wonderful sight. A few metres ahead Manali to spotted a single deer, this time much closer to the road. Looking at animals in the wild is a wonderful experience and at Nuwara Eliya the misty plains make this even more exciting. On the way back we stopped at the Grand Indian, a restaurant attached to the Grand Hotel – a colonial styled hotel, one of the few expensive places to stay in Nuwara Eliya.

We had nothing much to do for the rest of the evening so we set out seeing the tea estates around the city. The Pedro estate plantations were the nearest so we set out to the hills on foot. There was a light drizzle so we thoroughly enjoyed the walk and ended up picking a few tea buds. Planning to roast the buds and make probably 1 cup of tea. A separate blog about that, coming up later. The drizzle soon turned into a heavy downpour and we had to hurry up to our hotel. We were almost freezing by the time we reached and wanted to have a hot shower. However the hotel had run out of hot water and we had to wait for more than 2 hours before we showered. Later that night I spent some time writing parts of this blog before tucking away in the warm blankets.