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Madulsima, a top tourist attraction

The landscape of Madulsima

The founding father of Nuwara Eliya as a retreat and/or holiday resort with a climate akin to that of England was the British engineer Samuel Baker who, in 1846, served the then British colony of Ceylon. The Englishmen serving Sri Lanka as civil servants and planters then called the place ‘Little England’ as they could enjoy their home climate, especially during the Easter vacations, at Nuwara Eliya.

They developed the area to suit their leisure activities, building cricket grounds, golf courses, parks to play polo and areas to carry out fox hunting. Thus, Nuwara Eliya became a major tourist attraction.

Due to the growing demand for holidaying at Nuwara Eliya by foreigners as well as locals, many hotels, guest houses and holiday bungalows have sprung up of late. Both authorised and unauthorised structures have come up like mushrooms, even invading the protected hilly areas, and the place is now not only overcrowded, but also commercialised. ‘Little England’ now is fast losing its serenity and the possibility that it may soon become a concrete jungle cannot be ruled out.

It is high time that policy makers of the tourist industry thought of finding alternative places similar in climate and scenic beauty to that of Nuwara Eliya for development as tourist resorts to meet the growing demand for holidaying in the hill country by both foreign and local tourists.

Splendid scenery

The Bandarawela and Ella regions have already been developed to a certain extent for the tourist industry with hotels and guest houses having already come up to cater to tourists. Haputale, Ohiya and Madulsima, with their splendid scenery, are areas that can be developed as tourists resorts. Adisham Bungalow at Haputale is already attracting tourists.

View of the Namunukula mountain from Madulsima with the nine peaks clearly visible

Of these places, Madulsima, in my view, is the ideal place that can be developed as a tourist resort. Madulsima, with its wide open hilly area bordering the Namunukula and Lunugala mountains, has scenic beauty that anyone would like to enjoy; whereas Nuwara Eliya is covered by a range of huge mountains all around. The area belongs to the Lunugala Divisional Secretariat in the Badulla district.

Madulsima has been famous for black tea since the colonial era. The Haputale, Namunukula and Madulsima mountain range is around 4,000 to 6,700 feet above sea level. The whole area is covered by tea plantations with an abundance of natural water lines, fauna and flora. The Little World’s End, situated close to the Madulsima town, is frequented by local travellers, but is not very popular with the foreign tourists, obviously due to lack of information being made available in foreign countries of such scenic beauty.

Namunukula, situated south east of Badulla, marks the eastern end of the long and curving southern border of the Central Hills. At a 2,035 m altitude, it is the 12th highest peak in the country. While the Madulsima mountains stand on to the north, the vast plains of the Uva lie to the east.

I still carry fond memories of Madulsima, having visited the place twice. The serenity of the area coupled with rural beauty and mist and fog flowing around the place still lingers in my mind. It is my firm conviction that with the nature’s gifts that Madulsima abundantly possesses, it can be developed as one of the best tourist attractions in the country, similar to ‘Little England’.

Infrastructure development

The infrastructure development undertaken by the Government, such as improvement of roads leading to the main cities, with carpeted surfaces and other facilities will no doubt help the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority develop the tourist industry. Ideally, Madulsima is one such place that can be developed as a tourist attraction.

A small waterfall in the area

The entry to Madulsima can be by the A5 main road, also known as the Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi road – from Badulla via Passara. It has a distance of around 24 Km from the main road. An alternative route to Madulsima is from Meegahakivula Arawa-Pitamaruwa road. Those who travel to Madulsima from the Wellawaya Buttala area can use the Buttala Hingurukaduwa-Passara road.

The Meegahakivula Arawa – Pitamaruwa road also leads to Madulsima, but is a gravel road which is not suitable to travel even by bullock cart. Many people who use this road travel on foot and carry their bag and baggage on the back of bulls (Thavalam).

The Uva Province with marvellous scenery on the eastern slopes of the central mountains of Sri Lanka produces teas with a typical rich flavour whose reputation is worldwide. Grown 3,000 to 5,000 feet up on the eastern slopes of Sri Lanka’s central mountains, the best Uva tea is plucked between June and September. The dry wind that blows towards Uva during this period gives Uva tea a copper coloured infusion with a very smooth, pronounced taste and wonderful aroma. Madulsima plantation, Kakagala, Madulsima Verellapatana, Galloola, Battawatte and Roeberry are the main plantations of the area.

Due to its marvellous geographical setting, Madulsima can offer tourists different experiences such as bird watching, adventure tourism, tea tourism, paragliding and home stay programs. In the early mornings, the rising sun in the eastern horizon provides a breathtaking view. With a clear view from the eastern side, the boundless sea can be viewed as far as the eye could see.

Life of planters

A book titled A Woman’s Life on the Plantations, authored by Samudra Ratwatta describes the life pattern of the inhabitants of Madulsima in the 1950s. She narrates her experience as the wife of a planter and also as a member of the plantation society in the Madulsima area, mainly at the Uvakelle Estate, which is about 20 miles away from Passara. She had spent around 15 years of her life in Madulsima during the mid-1950s to the end of 1960. She thus describes the lifestyle of the plantation community.

“In Madulsima, the club was situated on Batawatta Estate. The planters of the area got together on a Wednesday afternoon for tea and drinks.” On the club days, the PDs and SDs forget their work and enjoy themselves together, although the PDs could be tough and formidable on the field. The bar was a warm and cosy room. The clubs were where planters compared notes about their business. They were informal mechanisms for exchanging information.”

The author refers to the many planters and their wives, both British and Ceylonese, who were active in the club those days. Those names are now forgotten, but in those days, they mattered.

The highest point of Madulsima belongs to the Roeberry estate and the lowest part to the Dorapoda in Bibile (Moneragala district). The ranges of mountains are always covered in mist and has a salubrious climate at all times. A panoramic view of waterfalls such as Umang Oya, Bambarabotuwa and Kekunagala can be seen around the area.

When visitors reach the top of the hill, it is possible to see a variety of rocks such as Dehigala and Dorapoda covered with the thin forest. When the strong winds originating from the South Western Monsoon arrive at this furthest point, they are a spent force. However, they still transmit a certain degree of flavour to the tea. The result is a tea of all round taste with a tinge of special character. Also, the taste of the pure water of the area is different from the water of other areas.

The writer is Director (Middle East) of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Pix: Ashan, Lakdasun Forum

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