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Nuwara Eliya meaning "the city in the open plain (table land) in the hills", is a hilly town of Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is located at an altitude of 1,990 meters (6,128 ft) in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, City overlooks Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka
The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played.
Although the town was found in the 19th century by Englishmen, the site was frequently visited by native Sinhalese travellers. It has also been an area of pre-historic human beings as recent archaeological findings confirm.
Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period, and even new hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. The Hill Club is the best preserved of the hotels, and charges admission for non-residents who wish to wallow in its nostalgia. Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
Due to the high altitude, Nuwara Eliya has a much cooler climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C. In the winter months it is quite cold at night, and there can even be frost. although it rapidly warms up as the tropical sun climbs higher during the day.
The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, and it is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1st annually in a ceramonial manner. The ceremony consist with mainly a band show where all the school bands will participate. This is one of the famous and beautiful ceremonies in Nuwara eliya.
Star attractions at this time are the numerous motor racing and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs. The former being run since 1934. The Nuwara Eliya Road Race and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract a fair share of enthusiasts. Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlong (1811 m) Governor's Cup, and the flower show at the end of the month.
The town's other attractions include the golf courses, trout streams, a park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities it gives to see various species, particularly the Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. Kashmir Flycatcher is another attractive bird species found in the park. Galway's Land Bird Sanctuary, close to Lake Gregory, is another wildlife site of 0.6 km².
The town is a base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. This is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland. Species found here include Leopard, Sambar, and the endemic Purple-faced Langur. Endemic highland birds include Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Yellow-eared Bulbul.
The park also has a well-visited tourist attraction at World's End, a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker Falls. Early morning visits are essential, both to see the wildlife, and to view World's End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.
One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. "Little England" has a somewhat incongruous conjunction of terraces growing leeks, beetroot and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.
The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest Orange Pekoe tea, and several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.
There are a few places in N'Eliya which are interesting, though they are not popular attractions.
One is a grave stone of one British governor located in the very corner of the golf grounds. He was famous for elephant hunting and it says that he had hunted thousands of elephants. A folklore in Nuwara Eliya says that in every year this gravestone is struck by a thunder ball. That is for the great sin he has done. At present this place is not open for the visitors.
Another place related to folklore is the Hindu Temple called "Seetha Kovil" (Hanuman Kovil). It is found on the way to Badulla from Nuwara Eliya before reaching the Haggala Botanical garden. The temple is located in the village called "Seethaeliya".T he folklore about this area is related to the Ramayana in hinduism. Folklore says that the mighty king Ravana kidnapped princess Seetha who was the queen of Rama and hid her in the place where the temple now is. Later people built a temple in that place on memory of her.
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