Perched on a narrow mountain ridge, the often misty town of Haputale may not be known to many Sri Lankan visitors. Yet, if you venture to the southern mountainous region of the Sri Lankan Central Highlands, you will find a wonderful and serene place of retreat that will relax your mind and rejuvenate your soul.
Situated at an elevation of more than 4500 feet above sea level, Haputale offers a spectacular view of the Southern Plains of Sri Lanka. Because of its high elevation, the temperature here is much colder than other parts of the country; so remember to bring warm clothing when packing for this adventure.
There are very few commercial and entertainment facilities in town but you will find plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities here. And although the town does not have much of a nightlife, it compensates its visitors with a wonderful sunrise. So if you find yourself having nothing to do in Haputale at night, try to sleep early, wake up at dawn and you will not regret it!
Like other towns in the Central Highlands, Haputale has its fair share of tea plantations. These tea hills are usually very photogenic. It’s a lovely experience to just walk around and witness the daily lives of the tea workers. Perhaps the most prominent among all the tea plantations is the Dambatenne Tea Estate, which is known for still using Victorian-age machinery to processes their tea leaves. It was built in 1890 by the Scottish Baron Sir Thomas Lipton, the founder of the Lipton Tea Empire.
The factory offers a tour of the tea making process that culminates in tea tasting. The factory is located about 11 kilometers from Haputale and is accessible by pubic transports. Head over to the town station and catch a bus to Bandarawela. You just need to ask the driver to drop you off at the tea factory. The bus service runs both ways every 30 minutes. You can also hire a tuktuk or three-wheeler transport to take you to the factory.
Just beside the factory is the lookout site known to the world these days as Lipton’s seat. Make your way to the lookout and you will be treated to a vast panorama of magnificent mountainous scenery. The best time to hike to Lipton’s seat is during the early morning when the view is not covered by mist. To reach the lookout, you will need to climb 7 kilometers through tea plantations. It will take you around two and a half hours to finally make it to the top. It may be a challenging hike but nobody can deny that the trek to Lipton’s seat is worth it.
Just 3 kilometers from town is another notable attraction called Adisham Bungalow. Exuding the Post Victorian architectural design, this impressive mansion and monastery was owned by a Kentish tea planter named Sir Thomas Lester Villiers. Today, it is one of the reminders of the British colonization in the country. Visitors to the mansion are permitted to enter the living room, library and explore the English country cottage-style gardens.
Haputale is located in the Badullar District and can be reached by taking the regional train from Colombo to Kandy. From there, you can make local transport arrangements to the mountain town.