Unwind in Bandarawela (සුන්දර බන්ඩාරවෙල)

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About Bandarawela

At a height of 1230 metres, the mammoth paddy field (wela) that belonged to Mudliyar Bandara was later on transformed into Bandarawela a mere land which had no occupant other than those who lived in small villages around it.

During the second world war, many families moved to Bandarawela as leading schools in Colombo such as Visakha Vidyalaya and Royal College completely shifted to Bandarawela due to the fear caused by the Japanese bombs. Then the main occupants who owned land in the area were people like Anagarika Dharmapala, Hema Basnayake and the Montegu’s.

Moderate and calm in every possible way unlike the neighbouring Nuwara Eliya which is rather busy with tourists and irritating touts, Bandarawela lies amazingly serene, almost hidden among a throng of hills.

Although the two climates look superficially similar, Bandarawela is actually blessed with a better climate for, when it’s freezing cold, misty and wet in Nuwara Eliya, the former remains mild and dry with just a touch of balmy wind that invites visitors to linger on.

The climate’s apparently determined by the monsoons and the rain keeps the hills quite alive.

About five kilometers away from Diyatalawa, Bandarawela awaits its travelers with its invigorating climate and hard working inhabitants. The streets are not crowded with idling visitors, though.

It’s in fact, refreshing to take a quiet walk, pondering over things, climbing down the hillocks straight to the town and still be assured that tricky loiterers would not bother or barge into you.

The heart of the tiny town’s marked by an intersection of roads that lead to many vibrant shops and the Buddhist temple, Hindu kovil, Catholic church and the Muslim mosque which are a few feet away from each other, bringing the mixed population together.

The Bandarawela town is an unpretentious place, an alternative hill station based around an unhurried town area which is surrounded by a lovely up country vegetation.

The famous ‘Dowa’ temple which is situated on the highway between Badulla and Bandarawela is said to have provided shelter for King Valagamba’s army during his battle.

The tunnel inside the rock-cave temple apparently lead to a specific point which was only known to King Valagamba’s army.

The colossal incomplete rock-cut, standing Buddha statue which is eight metres high is cut in low relief in the rock that shelters murals and inscriptions dating back to the 1st century BC.

The railway track was built during the British era in the shape of a turban. The rail road is a true wonder as it goes around the mountain in a loop behind it and goe s past the Demodara station under it.

The temperate climate that lingers in the place attract many tourists throughout the year. Nevertheless, Bandarawela doesn’t look as if it’s dependant on its visitors. In fact, its folks don’t seem to care much about its travellers as they don’t earn a living on the latter. They’re hard-working farmers, estate workers or shop owners who would rather be left alone.

One can’t keep one’s eyes or feet off the landscape though. The narrow but steep hills lead to many wonderful spots on the Sri Lankan soil.

The Nazareth convent, the cute motels and Adisham in Haputale which was originally the country house of Sir Thomas Villiers. He built his dream house hidden among the highest hills and virgin forests in Ceylon.

Designed in the Tudor Style similar to the Leeds Castle in Kent, with granite walls, long narrow tunnel windows and chimneys. Its breath-takingly beautiful garden coupled off with myriads of flowers along with the orchard, is the icing on the cake. Today it’s converted into a a monastery where a small community of a few Roman Catholic monks follow a schedule of prayer, work and service.

Well known for its scenic beauty as well as fine products such as strawberry jam, orange marmalade, guava jelly and cordials, heaven seems only a few inches away in the night at Adisham.

Another attraction of Bandarawela could be the Dutch House which is perched high on the hills. Having an aura of an 18th Century Colonial Bungalow, it’s a splendid masterpiece designed by its British and Sri Lankan owners who decorated it with Dutch period furniture hand-picked by them.

Overlooking the Bandarawela town it’s got a super view of the mountains beyond. The house includes columns, verandahs and a luxurious satinwood and ebony staircase. Its many flower beds are a real treat to the eyes.

Back on the roads to Nuwara Eliya, one can’t miss the highest plateau in the country, the Horton Plains, which was declared as a National Park in 1988. Having a rich bio-diversity, most of its flora and fauna are endemic. Horton Plains is spread on a 3160 hectares of land which has an annual rainfall of about 5000mm and thus the most important catchment area in Sri Lanka.

Oh, how I long to go back to the paddy field of Mudliyar Bandara just to let loose and be myself….

by Umangi de Mel
Sunday Observer

Also See

Map of Bandarawela and Surrounding Attractions

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Bandarawela

Route from Colombo to Bandarawela
Through : Ratnapura – Balangoda – Beragala – Haputale
Distance : 190 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : See on Google Maps

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