Nuwara Eliya of tea plantations, a splendid golf course and everything colonial

After a week of splashing about in the seas and pools, sipping on King coconut and soaking in the sun, we finally get away from the heat and head to a cooler destination — the hill station of Nuwara Eliya, 1,900 metres above sea level.

Established by the British in the early 19th Century, Nuwara Eliya is also known as Little England as it still retains its colonial charm, replete with colonial-era hotels, tea plantations and a resplendent golf course.

As we drive up the spiralling route from Kandy to Nuwara-Eliya, we pass by well-manicured tea gardens, deep, dense valleys, waterfalls and a couple of temples. Our first stop for the day is the Mackwoods tea estate. After a tour around the place and some gyaan about the chai processed there, we are treated to some delicious brownies and tea. As we bask in the sunlight and sip tea, we are almost transported to an era, similar to the one Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was set in.

The perfect cuppa

Only, I didn’t find a Mr. Darcy, but the good thing is I finally found the perfect brew — Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings. Rich in flavour, the tea instantly turns me into a tea-totaller and I help myself to another cup and then buy seven packets of the same to bring back to Chennai.

Happy with the purchase, we speed off to the next destination — Sita Amman temple. A stream, where Sita was believed to have bathed, flows by the side of the temple. On a rock is a huge footprint that’s supposed to be Hanuman’s. As we step out of the temple, it begins to pour.

Hungry and cold, we drive into the Grand Hotel for lunch. The imposing façade of the hotel against the misty sky and jade lawns is a sight to behold. The interior, too, is just as beautiful, adorned with elegant chandeliers, red carpets and an automatic piano. The buffet spread is huge and our appetites do justice to the spread. We are barely able to move, and need a siesta.

The relentless tour guide ignores our pleas and takes us to the prestigious Hill Club. “What’s the big deal? It’s just another club!” my friend mutters. Apparently not! Done up in typical English architecture with hardwood floors, wooden staircases, high roofs, fireplace et al, the century-old club is quite the pride of the hill town.

Everybody’s favourite

It was founded in 1876 by a British coffee planter, as a ‘home’ away from home, and today, it functions as a privately-operated club that sees an eclectic crowd, and is everybody’s favourite. The majestic granite mansion overlooks the Pidurutalagala Mountains, tall elegant trees with their heads held high, their wet leaves glistening like tiaras, lawns dotted with colourful flowers and shaped hedges that look as happy as I do after a good haircut!

“Now, I’ll take you to yet another stunning place,” announces our guide as he tears us away from the club. Shortly, we arrive at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, every golfer’s paradise. Although built in the late 19th Century, it doesn’t let its age show. It’s a pity I can’t play golf. So, I satisfy myself just looking around. Acres and acres of greenery greet my eyes. I quickly try the ‘stare at something green seven metres away for seven minutes’ routine and try to refresh my eyes. Feels good!

It’s beginning to drizzle now. We seat ourselves in the wooden colonial style bar and as we down a few shots of vodka, we watch the hilly rain convert the well-defined scenery outside the window into a vivid green blur. No noise, no pollution… only a sense of bliss.

Ah! This is what I call the good life!


Seductive SerendipMay 22, 2010

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