Sri Lanka’s natural beauty is overwhelming and everywhere. But nowhere more enchanting than in the highlands. Although set square in a classic tropical location, elevations of over 2500 m. give this region fascinating variety and contrast in climate, vegetation, wildlife and crops.
Kandy, capital city of the highlands and of Sri Lanka’s last free kingdom, is beautifully sited amid mountain ranges, lake and the great Mahaweli River. A sanctuary of traditional culture, its main attractions include the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Victoria Golf course the river side elephant baths and the picturesque Peradeniya university campus, as well as excellent handicraft shopping.
The scenic hill resort of Nuwara Eliya (1890 m. above sea level), was developed by 19th c. British settlers on the lines of an English village. Many evidences of this such as charming English-style houses and gardens and place names, still remain. Its main attractions include the Victoria Park, the Hakgala Botanic Gardens and natural reserve Lake Gregory and the 18-hole golf course, rated one of Asia’s finest.
Apart from its unsurpassed natural beauty, the hill country is also the source of some of the island’s most renowned products, among them Ceylon tea. A visit to a tea estate to see the world’s favourite hot beverage being grown and processed, is a not-to-be-missed part of the Sri Lanka experience.
The highlands also produce many of the fragrant and costly spices Sri Lanka was famed for since Biblical times, among them clove, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Rubber, a major export crop, is grown in large plantations, mainly in the south-western foothills. The hill country is also the source of Sri Lanka’s beautiful, rare, precious and semi-precious gems.