Hill Country - 3 :
Townscape of Nuwara Eliya (Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka)

Nuwara Eliya, meaning “town of light” in Sinhala language, is the most popular Sri Lankan honeymoon destination.

Its altitude is 1890 m. The heat of the lowland seems a far−off dream, and it is sometimes so cool that a fireplace would be necessary. Colonial architectures dot, and golf courses, British style’s racecourse, a lake, a botanical garden, big street trees enhance the atmosphere of resort. It is an area of villas for Sri Lankan rich people, and, in April of the high season, the hotel accommodation fee is skyrocketing as a social gathering place of the upper classes.

The reason why British surgeon John Davey decided to open a place of sanatorium here in 1819 was because of the cool weather. That is said to the beginning of the town. However, as usual, Western people only thought arbitrarily that they had "discovered". In fact, a land nearby had appeared in the legend of Hinduism, and a king of Kandy dynasty had protected this land rich in water as "To protect the richness of nature is to protect the richness of water. To protect the richness of water is to protect rice terraces" and avoided constructing buildings.

After having been developed as a summer resort by British, various crops including coffee and tea were introduced and Nuwara Eliya developed as an agricultural center. The big lake lying east of the town is the result that British carried out the draining construction of a swamp. Many of the colonial buildings built by British are now diverted to hotels, and its quality attracts people to this town.

However, when walking actually, I did not feel historical air than I thought. The central part where markets and shops gather is an ordinary Sri Lankan rural town. Around it is a residential area of detached houses with garden. But, except for historic landmarks that represent the town such as hotels and the post office, those are colonial-like and seem to be different somewhere or not. “Colonial-like” must attribute to that the town established the landscape ordinance and new houses might be built based on that.

Meanwhile the landscape ordinance shows the high degree of culture of Nuwara Eliya, the site area per a household is smaller than I thought and, except parks and hotels, high trees are sparse, so distant houses are seen well. It lacks the luxury residential area atmosphere that a house is delicatedly seen.

As a third-world rich villa resort, I unexpectedly felt conservative even if the town still has a special air in Sri Lanka. How does colonialism left by Britain change 50 years later since the independence ? Please find the answer of Sri Lanka version for that.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

Within the walking distance of downtown Kandy.



Lonely Planet Guide 'Sri Lanka' (Lonely Planet Publication, 2006)

2007.11 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Townscape of Nuwara Eliya

Photo by Daigo Ishii