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Haputale

Haputale, considered to be one of Asia’s most overlooked destinations, is a small slice of heaven on earth in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Located 5 - 7 hours away from Colombo, Haputale is a picturesque town in Badulla perched on the southern edge of the hill country that serves to be a major bio diversity zone in Sri Lanka due to its close proximity to the Horton Plains National Park and the Thangamale Bird Sanctuary. Moreover, the town also proves to be a perfect nature retreat for the one looking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life due to the scenic views of the mountains draped in lush green tea plantations that produce some of the best tea leaves in the world.

Top Reason to Visit

The abundance of daunting mountain ranges draped in cascading fertile green tea plantations, the close proximity to the iconic Horton Plains National Park, remnants of the old world’s influence in the form of the Adisham Hall and the stunning scenery of the mountains are therefore, the top reason to visit Haputale.

While You’re There

Tea paradise:

It was Sir Thomas Lipton (founder of the world famous ‘Lipton Tea’) that introduced fine Sri Lankan tea to the entire world in 1890, bypassing the traditional distribution channels of the colonial masters. His influence can still be witnessed today in the form of the Dambatenne Tea Factory. It is just one of the few tea factories in the area that can be visited in a comprehensive manner, whereby the process of fermentation, rolling, drying, cutting, sieving and grading of tea can be witnessed in full flow. Better yet, you could even sip on a cuppa after the tour.

A Tudor era castle:

Built to mirror the contours of Leeds Castle in Kent, the Adisham Hall is a breathtaking example of fine British craftsmanship that is virtually unchanged from its christening in 1931. The old world building serves to be a lodge, as well as a monastery that holds a sacred relic of Pope Sylvester I (314 - 335 CE). The significance of the Tudor styled building is further accentuated with the natural beauty of the Thangamale Bird Sanctuary that surrounds it, boasting of an array of exquisite flora, fauna and sceneries of the mountains. Exploring this charming building is a great way to reflect on the beauty of Sri Lanka.

Harmony in diversity:

With a population of only just over 5,000, mainly constituting of Tamils, along with a minority of Muslims and Buddhists, Haputale’s diverse society further exemplifies how Sri Lanka serves to be a melting pot of cultures. These can be seen in the form of the various places of worship scattered across the town, such as the local mosque, Buddhist temples, the St. Andrew’s Church and the Surangamuni shrine. A visit to any of these places of worship perched high in the hills of Haputale really does give a great sense of how the peaceful coexistence of different religions thrive in Sri Lanka.

A mecca for the nature lover:

Haputale also serves to be a great base for the nature lover due to its close proximity to the Horton Plains National Park. Embark on a grand excursion to Sri Lanka’s iconic park that boasts of a great many endemic species of flora and fauna, along with some of the most picturesque views of the hill country and, if you are lucky, the lighthouse of the Southern Province from the sheer precipice of the World’s End.

Hike and witness heaven on earth:

The town area of Haputale may look like any other town really, with many vehicles passing by and many people going about their day. However, a few minutes of walking around and the landscape changes instantaneously. The best way to experience the natural beauty of the little mountain town is beside the train tracks, especially the tracks that lead to Pattipola and the little village of Idalgashinna where spectacular views can be seen with the terrain falling away on both sides. Moreover, the hike up to Lipton’s seat, which is located near the Dambatenne tea factory is another hike that allows you to witness an awe inspiring view of the mountains and the coast, even rivaling the likes of the World’s End. Partaking in a hike in Haputale will definitely make you forget about the arduous climb when witnessing the breathtaking scenery.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about in the town area is quite easy, as the town is quite small. To fully enjoy the town’s offerings, walking is the best way to go about. Should you choose to hire a tuk-tuk, there are a number of them in the tow area, however, they could overcharge.

Weather: The weather here is considered to be one of the best in the country, as Haputale experiences a more temperate climate all throughout the year. The months from June to September have proven the best months to travel here since the town experiences a perfect temperate climate with a few showers here and there.

Money: Credit and debit cards are next to pointless here, so it is important to carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s and 100s for your daily expenses.

Clothing: It can get quite cold here due to the temperate climate, so it is best to be clad in a few layers to stay warm. Moreover, make sure you are clad adequately with hiking gear when partaking in a hike.

Safety: Haputale is a safe town and is not necessarily crowded too, however, it is important to be mindful of your belongings at all times.

Meals and refreshments: There are a number of places for short eats, dosas (paper-thin pancakes), rotti, and rice and curry in the town centre. If you are not comfortable with street food, your accommodation provider is there to cover that gap.

All in all, the little mountain town of Haputale may be considered small and almost insignificant to many, however, its history of producing some of the best tea in the world, the presence of a stunning colonial masterpiece, a diverse society, jaw dropping landscapes and the perfect base for a nature excursion, makes the little mountain town a must visit destination in your travel itinerary.

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