Sri Lanka, named as the ‘Best Country to Travel in 2019’ by Lonely Planet is located a few clicks down-south of India. Even-though I am Sri Lankan, I never travelled across the country as much as I dreamt of. While there are remarkable places in Sri Lanka, central hill is still a mystery in this tropical country.
So we decided to travel, a bit far from the long lines of traffic, tuning into the local radio. It wasn’t easy for us to decide where we want to go, as you know Sri Lanka has exceptional places to visit, but we decided to head towards the country-side, Haputale, which is approximately 1431m above sea-level.
Day 1 – Leaving traffic
We left Colombo early in the morning, around 5AM! Waking up at that time isn’t easy, but for a trip, it wasn’t easy sleeping the previous day. Anyway all I can remember is getting into our car, tuning in the radio & 5 hours later, Google Maps shouting out “You’ve arrived at Haputale”.
Tip: If you’re travelling to Nuwara Eliya, Diyathalawa, Ella, Bandarawela, Horton Plains, Badulla or even Hatton, Haputale is the ideal place to stay. Why? Its in the CENTER!
We were curious to find where our hotel is, but not after seeing the hillside covered in all mist!
Also if you see locals selling fruits, feel free to buy some on your way up! You will not regret it! We were lucky enough to taste these delicious Sri Lankan upcountry mangoes!
The place we stayed in was called “Muthu View Resort” booked through Booking.com. Well it wasn’t a resort per se & didn’t look that great, until we realized that the Up-Country-Train travel right UNDER the terrace of the resort. We could see a temple located a bit far away, hidden in the mist. This place is ideal for budget travelers looking for Bed & Breakfast in Haputale!
So the most amazing thing about our climbing the Haputale mountain was this bug, in our rear windshield, holding tight for almost 15KMs!
Day 2 – Addison Bungalow, Nuwara Eliya & Lipton’s Seat
We decided not to waste our time, to breathe fresh air. So we went sharp at 9AM (normal opening hours are 9AM, which might change due to the pandemic) towards Addison Bungalow. It sounds a bit horrifying right? But after getting the real experience, it was worth it! Adisham Hall, or Adisham Bungalow was built for a British Governor back in 1930s. Whilst the level of freedom to take photos inside the bungalow was limited, we enjoyed a good strawberry milkshake and bought a few jam bottles on our next trip to the Lipton’s seat! (Highly recommend the jam bottles!)
Next place to stop by was the Lipton’s Seat! After climbing 7kms surrounded by peaceful green tea plantations and an occasional colorful tea-plucker, we reached the top. There are TukTuks who are willing to take us to the top, but they charge LKR 1500-2000 ($7-12), which I highly recommend for a person who isn’t confident behind the wheel! The road is very steep & scary! The top is very windy and don’t miss out the sight, and don’t miss to sit near the Scottish baron and tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton’s statue.
Tip: Lipton’s Seat is best visited early in the morning before sunrise & despite what’s said everywhere in the internet, Lipton’s Seat is FREE to visit!
So on the way down, we happened to pass Dambatenne. Look carefully at the below photo! They were still, which made us believe it was a statue!
Day 3 – Horton’s Plains & Moons Plains
It’s not the same thing! As typical Sri Lankans, even we thought its just one place, but believe it or not, its two! So we first headed towards Horton Plains, the place which every hiker talks about!
It was misty, apparently it always is, during the early morning. There was an entrance fee, FYI! So we started walking and walking and walking.
Tip: Leave all plastics and foods in your car & when you enter and walk in, go right in the first Y junction (towards Baker’s Fall, check the image next) irrespective of what people say! Its much closer to “World’s End” and right route is easy to walk, left is not!
Moon’s plains is something that is new, as the locals say! Its more of a safari that you go for like 2 hours. There are stuff to see, specially when you travel during a thundershower! You will have to go in a safari jeep, as they don’t allow other vehicles to enter. There are safari jeeps, which is around LKR 3000 (USD 20-40).
Day 4 – Finding the mystery temple & then the Nine Arch Bridge
So, the mystery temple!. We didn’t know where it was, so we just took a wild guess!. We passed the Ohiya railway station and was headed east.
In the temple, there were a few monks, but most of them are young. There were two protectors of this mystery temple as you can see below, and a young monk, not older than 10-12 years old, playing with the almighty protectors!
Next, we were heading towards the world famous Nine Arch Brige. Apparently there is a small shortcut, a few meters away from the main walking path. So we decided to take the shortcut, not knowing where it will lead us, as usual! And guess what! We ended right near the bridge, in the perfect spot! There was a local grandma, who carry a few set of Thambili (King Coconut) daily up and down this hidden path towards the Ella Bridge (hint: she knows everything in and out of Ella Bridge)
4 days is enough to travel the up-country, if only you know where you are heading! We missed a few but we covered all the remarkable places!
Nevertheless, it was a good trip!