Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana – හන්තාන තේ කෞතුකාගාරය

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Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana
Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana – James Taylor, the pioneer of Ceylon Tea was born on March 29, 1835 In Moabotto Estate in Aberdeen. At the age of 16, he boarded a ship bound for Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) on October 16, 1851 and arrived in Sri Lanka on February 20, 1852. He then proceeded to Loolcondera Estate in Deltota (40 kilometres from Kandy) owned by Pride. In 1857, Pride expired and Taylor took over the estate. It was during his tenure as the Superintendent of that estate, Taylor planted the first tea crop. The first consignment of tea was exported from Sri Lanka in 1877. He made Loolcondera Estate his home until he expired in 1892
photo source : www.ceylonteamuseum.com

Kandy is a mandatory stop on virtually every tourist itinerary. Its scenic beauty, the salubrious climate, the Temple of the Tooth Relic, The Kandy Perahera and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens have all contributed to it being a famous tourist destination.

A new addition to these attractions is the Ceylon Tea Museum, which is one of a kind as this is the first Tea Museum in the world.

A few years ago, some ex-planters were concerned about the tea industry and were keen to impart their knowledge about the industry to the general public and decided to set up a tea museum. Thus in 1975, Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation Chairman Clifford Ratwatte visited the Great Western Tea Factory in Talawakelle and having seen old dismantled machinery suggested to the Superintendent of that factory, Dharmasiri Madugalle, that a Museum should be established immediately to preserve the disused machinery as they were being replaced with modern machinery.

“Thereafter, I made a note of all the old machinery on my visits to the estates, especially those in Kandy and Matale areas as the oldest tea factories were located there. The project commenced at the end of 1977 after leasing out the abandoned Hantana Tea Factory from the Janatha Estates Development Board (JEDB).”

“It was not an easy task as we had to repair the discarded machinery and make it fit for display. The disused machinery had to be identified and transported to the Museum. It took us (A retired engine driver V. Narayanpillai assisted me in this arduous task) about three years,” said Mr. Dharmasiri Madugalle, Manager Ceylon Tea Museum.

The Museum is established to preserve the atmosphere of a tea factory, at a cost of Rs. 32 million. The Museum project was carried out by the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the Tea Research Institute and the Planters’ Association of Ceylon.

The Museum is located about four kilometres from Kandy. Its close proximity to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and Loolcondera Estate where tea was first grown commercially makes Hantana, the perfect location.

The old machinery had been collected from Hare Park Estate Hunnasgiriya, Galekella Estate Hunnasgiriya, Girindiela Estate Rangalla, Nalanda Estate Madawala Ulpotha, Ambalama Estate Galaha, Knuckles Estate Tahalawantanne and Haggala Estate Madulkelle.

The primary objectives of the Museum are to exhibit machinery, memorabilia, documents, books, pictures and objects of historical value to the tea industry, to promote tea as a global beverage thereby enhancing tea exports, to exploit the tourism potential of the tea industry and thus strengthen Sri Lanka’s image as the world’s leading producer, to publish and distribute materials for the enrichment of the tea industry and also to educate Sri Lanka’s youth on the history of the tea industry and its contribution to the economy.

The Museum consists of four floors. The ground floor and the second-floor exhibit disused machinery, some dating more than a century. The first floor consists of a library and an auditorium with facilities for audiovisual presentations. The third floor is allocated for tea sales outlets of the country’s leading manufacturers of Ceylon Tea.

The fourth floor has a restaurant and a telescope to view Hunnasgiriya mountain and the Knuckles range.

The exhibits at the Museum include items such as the ‘Little giant’ tea roller (1889), Hand operated tea roller (1895), and the ‘Venetian drier’ – so called because it operates on the same principle as the Venetian blinds.

This is the first tea dryer made by W&J Jackson, a ‘hot bulb engine’, about 100 years old, the oldest known packet of Ceylon Tea (about 56 years old), a photo of the largest tea bush in the world depicting 28 pluckers surrounding the bush, a handwritten Visiting Agent’s report (dated 25 June 1895) and also an archive with items belonging to James Taylor.

According to Madugalle, there are similar machines in some other estates and he hopes to acquire those as well as with the permission of the authorities and exhibit them at the Tea Museum.

Contributed by : Arundathie Abeysinghe

Museum Open Times

Tuesday to Friday: 08.30 am to 4.00 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 08.30 am to 5.00 pm
Open on Holidays & Poya days
(Closed on Mondays)

Ticket Prices

Non-resident adult: 1000LKR
Non-resident children: 500LKR

Also See

Map of  Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana

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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

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Travel Directions to Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana

Kandy can be reached from Colombo on the old Colombo – Kandy road (option 1) which is scenic but heavy in traffic, especially on Fridays and Sundays. However, the new Central Expressway (option 2) has opened up a new route which is longer but less cumbersome.

Route 1 from Colombo to KandyRoute 2 from Colombo to Kandy
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala
Distance :150 km
Travel time: 3.20 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala
Distance :150 km
Travel Time: 3.20 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Route From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
Through : Walapane – Raja Mawatha
Distance :100 km
Travel Time : 3.0 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Route from Kandy to Ceylon Tea Museum in Hantana
Though :
Distance :4.4 km
Travel time : 15-30 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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