Amid the mist | Sunday Observer

Amid the mist

Sri Bimbaaraama Puraana Viharaya
Sri Bimbaaraama Puraana Viharaya

The soft beaches and the lowland jungles aren’t the only attractions when you think of Sri Lanka. This tropical island is blessed with mountains and hills which create vast ranges of scenic highlands while the temperature drops to 21ºC. As a nature lover and a traveller, I simply can’t stop visiting these areas over and over again.   This means whoever is thinking of making travel plans for vacations will always end up visiting the hills of Sri Lanka. Believe me, they have a magical attraction. No matter wherever you go in the lush green hills, you are hugged by mist and surrounded by tranquility and tiny musicals of chirping birds.It is a sign that tells you that you are far from human habitation. If you want to capture those chilled out moments, remember to carry a camera with you.

World’s End, Adisham Bungalow, Thangamale Sactuary, Sri Bimbarama Puraana Viharaya, Lipton’s Seat, and the church of Christ the King are the frequently visited tourist destinations.The towns of Haputale, Diyatalawa, Bandarawela and Ella make the hill country even more alive with the greenery of the tea plantations and estates which are often covered with misty clouds. If you want to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, get up before it’s dawn. Then you will be able to see the sun’s rays blanket the lush green tea plantations and the giant mountains stretching upwards. The early morning mists will surely be welcoming. The hills are a territory for hiking and is more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

World’s End-DANGER

It is the end of the world at Horton Plains. A hiking trip around Horton Plains will take about three hours. World’s End is covered by fluffy misty clouds and lush greenery. The best time to take a hike is between six and 10 in the morning. The weather in Horton Plains changes very quickly. There is the possibility of the misty climate changing into a sunny one in a moment. Therefore, don’t forget to take warm clothing, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, food and water. It is prohibited to go off road, as it could be misleading and dangerous. Be careful when you look down the End, as there are no safety rails around. Make sure that you have a firm grip on your child when you reach the End.

Adisham Bungalow and Tangamale Sanctuary

This stone mansion is of unique architectural value and has a history that is still discussed among travellers. It was built in 1931 by an English aristocrat and planter - a former Chairman of George Steuart’s - Sir Thomas Villiers. He was a grandson of Lord Russell and a descendant of the Duke of Bedford. In 1961 it was purchased by the Roman Catholic Church and was converted to a monastery.

Adisham Bungalow still preserves its beauty. The treasured antique furniture and the paintings will take you back in time. It is a ‘must see’ for the ones who haunt the tranquil misty hill country.

The walking track situated to the west of Adisham’s front gates runs about 8km to the west leading to the crest of the ridge through the Tangamale Sanctuary.

It is the spot for bird watchers to observe mini-verts, hornbills, green barbets, blue magpies, and orioles who shelter in pine and eucalyptus groves. As the path is steep, it is good to make it a sedate walk. This trail makes its end at the railroad tracks for a walk back to Haputale or onward to Idalgshinna.

Sri Bimbaaraama Puraana Viharaya

This is a place where Buddhists seek spirituality, consolation, inner peace and truth. It welcomes not only Buddhists, but also those who are searching for solace in their lives. It is a historic temple in Haputale with over 200 years of existence. Honoured by Buddhists it is called the ‘Maha Pansala’. The legends around this historic temple are a plenty.

It was built as a hut in the 1850s. With poor facilities Rev.Aththadassi Thera took care of the temple with the help of the villagers. The enormous effort, strength, support and sacrifice led the Thera to take care of other temples such as Naavala Viharasthanaya, Kiravanagama Maathikaaramaya, Nikapotha Pansala and Horadorowwa Pansala.

After Aththadassi Thera, Haputale Sri Janananda Thera established a religious environment for student monks and for the devotees by reconstructing the temple with more facilities.

There are historical records which show the connection between the Bimbaaraama Purana Viharaya and the Adisham Bungalow, proving the strong bond and mutual understanding between Christians and Buddhists of the era. These records depict how the Superintendent of Adisham Bungalow - Sir Thomas Villiers aided the construction of the temples by donating money.

The letters exchanged between Janananda Thera and Sir Thomas Villiers are preserved at the temple. Reverend Jinananda Thera passed away after 67 years of immense service to the Sasana and is still revered by the Buddhist community. Step in to this beautiful temple to find peace and tranquility.

Christ the King Church

This holy place is located in Diyatalawa which is also the home to the Garrison of the Sri Lanka Army (which also includes the Sri Lanka Military Academy, Officer Training Centre of the Army, SLAF Diyatalawa, the Sri Lanka Air Force’s Ground Combat Training Centre and facilities of the Sri Lanka Police). The priest in charge of the church is Rev.Fr. Titus Fonseka who is committed to live a Christ centered life. The church plays a major role in this area, helping the desperate, regardless the religion.

Lipton’s Seat

Tea’s most recognised patron is the English trader Sir Thomas Lipton. If you start from the Dambetenne tea factory, you will learn that it is the first tea factory in Sri Lanka, founded by Lipton in 1890. It will lead you to a 7km track that climbs 400m through lush green tea bushes to Lipton’s scenic lookout. The tea pluckers who are filling the baskets with Sri Lanka’s best tea leaves remind us that heis mission hasn’t failed even after decades.

The aroma of tea leaves will fill your senses to make you dream of misty mountains and walk in this wonderful Hill Country. In this heavily cultivated part of the southern hills hazards like leeches, wildlife, heavy mist or rainfall are possible. Consider hiring a local guide in advance if you don’t feel secure or confident on your own. If not, following the standard rules for trekking in the tropics, will help you out.