Colonial Heritage in Nuwara Eliya – the ‘Little England’ Experience

Nuwara Eliya was developed as a resort town by the British during the 19 th century, once they discovered that it had many similarities to their home country in terms of climate and terrain. The town soon started to resemble a quaint English town and gained the moniker ‘Little England’. Although it has become more Sri Lankan over the years, the town still retains its old-world charm, thanks to the preservation of many colonial buildings. We’ve compiled a list of places to visit in order to truly experience Sri Lanka’s own ‘Little England’.

Colonial Buildings

Much of the larger buildings in Nuwara Eliya were designed in the Tudor style. A large number of these homes and villas have been maintained by private entities that have now turned them into charming hotels and inns. Although the properties may have been updated to contain modern facilities and amenities, the façades still remain true to the old colonial architecture. Must visit sites are the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya, The Hill Club, Jetwing St. Andrews and the Nuwara Eliya Post Office.

Park, Garden and Lake

Victoria Park and the Hakgala Botanical Garden are reminiscent of the sprawling gardens of large English country manors. Filled with lush greenery, vibrant and colourful flowers and bubbling brooks, both the park and the botanical garden are great places to visit for a delightful stroll amidst picture postcard settings.

Nuwara Eliya’s Lake Gregory was built by a former British Governor for the purpose of power generation. However, it soon became a popular place for British families to enjoy an afternoon picnic, go boating or even fishing. The lake and its surrounding areas have been developed by the government in recent years and are extremely popular amongst the locals. Head over to the lake and take out a small paddle boat (available for rent), trot around the lake on a pony, or just enjoy a quiet picnic with your fellow travellers. Be warned that the lake becomes pretty noisy and busy on weekends with speed boats and jet skis.

Golf and Racing

When the British officers turned Nuwara Eliya into their holiday resort town, they needed activities and entertainment to keep themselves, and their families, occupied. Unsurprisingly, quintessential British sports such as horse racing and golfing were soon introduced to the town. A golf course and a horse racing course were built in Nuwara Eliya to host tournaments and related social events. The Nuwara Eliya Golf Club and the Royal Turf Club still host golf tournaments and horse races, which are attended by the Colombo elite. Both venues have held onto their colonial heritage and charm and are well worth a visit. Although visitors are welcome at both venues, it is best to call ahead and make arrangements.