It’s april and the town of Nuwara Eliya is lively, abuzz with hordes of local and foreign visitors, there to beat the sweltering heat of the south and to revel in the carnival like atmosphere that envelopes the place in April; it’s carnival time in Nuwara Eliya.
A month long carnival – Selalihini Wasanthaya – the spring festival begins annually on 1st April, and the town comes alive during this season. This celebration, offers the holidaymakers numerous games and outbound activities, motor racing, and horse racing, all set to give an adrenaline rush. Food festivals featuring regional dishes and flower shows with a wide array of tender flowers capture the April holiday season. The Victoria Golf Club in the middle of the town, featuring a fir tree lined stretch of fairway, is one of the world’s oldest golf courses and the Turf Club situated nearby, is the setting for horse racing events. Golf tournaments are held annually along with the seasonal celebrations.
Once in the town of Nuwara Eliya, it is time to explore the remnants of the colonial period and more. Declared a national heritage property, the Grand Hotel, one of the most iconic buildings in the town is set amidst manicured lawns. Built in the late 1820s by the then Governor, Edward Barnes, as a holiday residence, it was named Barnes Hall. After Barnes’ departure, it was rented and purchased by successive governors and planters before finally coming to the ownership of Nuwara Eliya Hotels who changed the single storey building into an elegant structure with more additions throughout the ensuing years.
Next to the Grand Hotel is the Hill Club, built in 1876, with its grey stoned façade. Established by coffee, cinchona and tea planters and rising two storeys, the building is surrounded by a charming garden and a walkway that leads to its grand entrance.
The Queen’s Cottage nestled in the midst of an extensive green landscape stands out in its ivory grandeur and is currently the vacationing residence of the President. Originally built as an English country house, the architecture is predominately colonial with a fair dose of sophistication and has been the residence of countless Governors of Ceylon who came to Nuwara Eliya to escape the heat of Colombo. And, if you are to step into the middle of the town, the post office with its red brick exterior is bound to capture your eye. The century old structure built in Tudor style has a clock-spire rising from one side. Also in the town is St Xavier’s Church, initiated in 1838 and built in 1848. Light brown in hue, the architecture of the church follows a pattern that seems to be a recurrent theme in Nuwara Eliya.
Make way to Bale Bazaar, the winter market, where shops are teeming with winter jackets and coats; some absolutely stylish, hoodies and even t-shirts. And the choices range from GAP, Abercrombie and Fitch, North Face and Burton and UCLA hoodies that could be purchased after some bargaining. Enjoy the beauty of bright green lawns and flowers of many shades and shapes at the Victoria Park.
Do not miss to step into the museum, located at the entrance to the park, where an interesting collection of photographs and documents depicting the early years of the town is displayed.
Lake Gregory is also an ideal place for relaxing in the midst of green lawns and hills, clear blue skies, grazing horses, and small houses dotting the landscape. Wander along the paved pathways beside the lake for a relaxing sojourn, but let the adrenalin pour in with a ride on a speed-boat or jet-ski or simply breathe in the beauty of the landscape with gentle rowing on a paddle boat. A pony ride for children will keep them away from the exciting water sports, while the adults can revel in the waters of Lake Gregory.
Embrace the new life at Nuwara Eliya. Invigorate yourself with fresh air that pervades the whole town. Be assured that come April, every nook and corner in Sri Lanka’s Little England will be filled with countless activities that treat the visitor to the beauty of nature and adventure in equal measure.
This celebration offers the holidaymakers numerous games and outbound activities, motor racing, and horse racing, all set to give an adrenaline rush!