Beautiful, idyllic BANDARAWELA

For me, Bandarawela is my second home, largely due to my formative years spent there. Year-round chilly weather, laid-back charm and a comfortable laziness pervades this town, which lies between hills and tea plantations. You won’t find a shortage of greenery in sight, wherever you choose to look – a refreshing change for those caught in the rat race that is Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
You’d be surprised at how close this idyllic town is to Colombo, about four to five hours’ drive by car. The second largest city in the Badulla District, Bandarawela is located on the western part of the Uva Province and on the eastern slopes of the central hills of our island nation. If you’re travelling from Colombo, the uphill climb, winding roads (and if you’re lucky misty environs), would signal the proximity of this beautiful town.
Whether visiting as a destination or just passing through, here is a list of a few things worth seeing in Bandarawela, if you happen to find yourself in this town.

Bandarawela town/Bandarawela Hotel
Once you pass the railway crossing down the decline, you know you’re nearing the town of Bandarawela, which has come a long way since my childhood days. There’s even a Cargills that serves up pretty much everything you’d find in a Colombo outlet.
The biggest novelty of the town is the looming buildings that make up the Bandarawela Central Bus Stand which was declared open only last year. The grey construction has more or less made travel to Bandarawela that much easier, with ample parking space for multiple buses.
A little ahead and next to the post office, you’d find a road leading upwards which will take you to the Bandarawela Hotel. Owned by the Aitken Spence group, this colonial bungalow combines the charm of a century old-British built property and modern amenities, all nestled among the misty mountains.
The architecture is bound to take you back to its bygone era; 33 rooms decorated in traditional style, delectable cuisine, renowned facilities and the breath-taking views surrounding the property, make this a must-see and must-experience hotel in Bandarawela.
An interesting feature is their Third Dimension Cuisine which serves up meals that look good, taste good, and are good for you. The ingredients used are all fresh and locally produced.

Church of the Ascension, Bandarawela

Once you pass the bustle of Bandarawela town, you’d be transfixed by the beauty of this church built in 1909 by a British-born Priest Rev. W.J.P. Waltham, although the vestry, side chapel and bell tower were built later.
Fringed by beautiful flowers of all colours and a carefully tend-to lawn, Church of the Ascension Bandarawela is also known as the ‘Gal Palliya’. If you are to drop in to visit this place of worship, make sure to take a slow walk up the incline to see the length of the property, inclusive of the priests’ quarters and congregation’s fellowship buildings.
In its surrounds, you’d also find the Bandarawela Children’s Park, a large space with all the playground necessities, and the Bandarawela Public Grounds where most of the town’s festivities – cricket matches, religious and cultural celebrations – take place.

Dowa Temple

The Dowa Rock Temple is one of Sri Lanka’s heritage sites and is located on the Badulla – Bandarawela main road. The highlight of the temple is a four-metre-high standing Buddha statue cut into the rock. The walls of the adjoining cave shrine are carved from solid rock and are covered with Sri Lankan style-Buddhist murals. The paintings depict the influence of the Kandyan era and comprise various Jathaka stories.
It is believed that King Valagamba took refuge in this temple in the 1st century BC during his 14-year exile from Anuradhapura. Legend also states that a secret underground tunnel stretches from this temple all the way to Kandy.
S. Thomas’ Bandarawela
A branch of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, under the Anglican Church of Ceylon, S. Thomas Bandarawela is a sprawling expanse of beautiful buildings and landscape. The school is run by a Board of Governors which is chaired by the Anglican Bishop of Colombo, who is also known as the ‘Visitor of the College’.
The aim of the founder, W.T. Keble, was to provide a free atmosphere for students, remote from great towns in a healthy climate, but at the same time not second to any other school in the island.
As the daughter of a teacher at this prestigious College, I got the chance to follow my mom around this school, on occasion. It’s safe to say the school has maintained its rustic charm of the ’80s to this day. Carefully-tended-to gardens bursting with flowers of all kinds, archaic buildings and long paved pathways leading to the various departments complete the picture.
You need to get prior permission from the school office if you’re to visit the school as a tourist but the effort is worth it.

Adisham Monastery
About a half-hour’s journey from Bandarawela you’d find Adisham, a monastery run by Benedictine monks. Amidst the tranquillity of the misty hills, this bungalow attracts many visitors yearly. The founder of this property is Sir Thomas Lister Villiers, who was born in 1869.
Waterfalls around Bandarawela
Dunhinda Falls, Diyaluma Falls and Ravana Falls are the three waterfalls worth seeing close to Bandarawela.
Dunhinda Falls – Located on the Badulla-Mahiyangana main road, 33 km away from the Bandarawela town, Dunhinda is about 210ft (64m) high. To see the dalls you’d have to walk about one km along a footpath from the Badulla-Mahiyangana main road.
Diyaluma Falls – The second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and the 361st highest waterfall in the world. It is located six km away from Koslanda on the Beragala-Wellawaya main road. If you’re travelling from Bandarawela, you’d reach the falls via Poonagala Road.
Ravana Falls – Located on the Bandarawela-Wellawaya main road, Ravana Falls is about 11 km away from Bandarawela. It is 82 ft (25m) high and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock. Ravana caves located rear Ravana Falls is another attraction for both locals and tourists. Legend states that King Ravana kidnapped Princess Sita and hid her in these caves behind the waterfall.
Halpewatte Tea Factory
Bandarawela is surrounded by beautiful tea plantations cultivated in British colonial times and has been a major Ceylon Tea production site since time immemorial. Halpewatte Tea Factory, located in Ella (13 km from Bandarawela), is said to be the largest tea factory in the Uva region.
The factory offers visitors a guided tour where you can learn everything there is to know about Ceylon Tea manufacturing. Taking the tour, you’d be surprisingly enlightened on the intricate detailing and copious amounts of work put in by every party involved in the tea making process.

Lipton’s Seat
Located about 11 km away from Bandarawela town, Lipton’s Seat is famous for the panoramic and magnificent view it offers. If you want to avoid the disappointment of mist clouding your view, the best time to visit would be from March to August, between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

(Trekurious together with DailyFT explores Sri Lanka for the curious traveller. Trekurious works with talented individuals and great brands to create amazing experiential tours, activities, and events in Sri Lanka. You can find out more at http://www.Trekurious.com.)

 

Source :http://www.ft.lk/2015/02/21/beautiful-idyllic-bandarawela/

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