Experience Thotalagala

Dambatenne Tea Factory

Built in 1890 by Sir Thomas Lipton himself, this colonial tea factory is still in operation today. The term “Ceylon Tea” was coined here, and Lipton’s Tea was founded and sold its first pound of tea from the precincts of this very factory. The factory tour is an education in the intricate processes involved in the fermentation, rolling, drying, cutting, sieving and grading of tea, and the comprehensive tour culminates with an authentic tea tasting experience. Guests of Thotalagala will be granted exclusive access to the factory and the bungalow which was Sir Thomas Lipton’s residence from 1890 to 1910.

Lipton’s Seat

Located on the top of the Poonagala hill near the Dambetenna tea factory, this is quite literally the point from which the Scottish tea baron would often proudly survey his tea plantations.On a clear day, the point offers a spectacular view of the Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Central and Eastern provinces including lakes and mountain ranges all the way to the Hambanthota harbor on the southern coast. The hike to the point through lush tea plantations is a must for the energetic, though you can also opt to hop into a bus or three wheeler, or drive up in the comfort of the bungalow vehicle.

St.Benedict’s Monastery, Adisham

Once the home of tea planter Sir Thomas Lester Villiers, St Benedict’s Monastery, Adisham is now one of only 18 monasteries in the world belonging to the Sylvestrine Congregation, a suborder of the Benedictine fraternity founded in the 13th century. Visitors can stroll around the monastery’s enchanting English country cottage gardens, and also view the ancient but beautifully preserved building’s living room and library. The monks are famous for their jams and jellies and these are available in a small shop on the property. All the produce is directly from the monastery’s lovely gardens and orchards.

Diyaluma Falls

At 720ft high, Diyaluma Falls is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Diyaluma is the site of local folklore. As told by famed Sri Lankan historian, Dr. R. L. Brohier, a young chieftain who was banished to the highlands was attempting to reunite with his beloved. Since all the passes were heavily guarded, he tried to haul her up via the escarpment, on a rope made of twisted creepers. However, this attempt ended in tragedy when she was fatally dashed against the rocks. It is said that the Gods took pity on this tragic end and caused a stream of water to gush from the mountain, veiling the site in a watery light, hence the falls name – Diyaluma, which can be translated from the Sinhala as “liquid light”.

Horton Plains National Park

In the shadow of the island’s second and third highest mountains lies Horton Plains, a mystical undulating plateau over 2000m high. An excellent spot for hiking, the plains feature a diversity of landscape and rich variety of wildlife including leopard, sambar, and the endemic purple-faced langur. Endemic highland birds include the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and yellow-eared bulbul can also be seen. The plateau comes to a sudden end at World’s End, a sheer precipice with a 1050m drop. The hike back takes the scenic route past Baker’s Falls. Early morning visits are best, offering a chance to enjoy both the view and the wildlife.

Nuwara Eliya

Just a 90minute drive from Haputale, Nuwara Eliya means “city on the plain” or “city of light”, and at an altitude of 1,868m, is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. The city was founded by explorer Samuel Baker in 1846, and is famous for its cool climate. Still referred to as ‘Little England’, Nuwara Eliya served as a sanctuary for British civil servants and planters in colonial times, since it offered the perfect setting for fox, deer and elephant hunting as well as polo, golf and cricket.

Considered to be one of the important locations for tea production in Sri Lanka, the slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world’s finest orange pekoe tea. There are many places worth visiting in Nuwara Eliya including Pedro Tea estate, Hakgala Gardens, Lovers Leap, Seetha Amman Temple, Galway’s Land National Park and Lake Gregory. Bird watchers should make a point to visit Victoria Park during the quieter times of the day, since it offers an excellent opportunity for seeing species such as the Indian blue robin, the Kashmir flycatcher and the pied or scaly thrush.