Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Driving up the hills from Ratnapura.

Further along the drive

Adisham, in the afternoon light

Dawn breaks on the forest

The road up to Lipton's Seat

The view of the valley, partway along the route to Lipton's Seat.

Adisham, in the afternoon light.

The headstone on W.S. Senior's grave

Haputale has some stunning scenery, about the best there is in the country, equalled only by the scenery in the Knuckles mountain range. Fortunately it to too far off the main tourist trail to become as despoiled as Nuwara Eliya. It has deteriorated in the twelve years since I first visited, especially on the road up to Adisham where part of the forest has been felled and two ugly hotels and a number of small guest houses have mushroomed.

The ruthlessness with which any opportunity for a quick profit will be exploited by Sri Lankan's needs to be seen to be believed. Endemic corruption ensures that the few building, environmental and safety regulations can be ignored and one finds spindly, ugly buildings clinging to hillsides offering board and lodging or refreshments. Why this entrepreneurial spirit cannot be channelled more productively is a mystery. Some of the hills were being logged heavily, with backhoes and other equipment leaving great bare patches on the hills. It is no wonder that with the heavy rains there are frequent landslides in the hill country.

Despite the best efforts of the rent-seekers, there is much beauty to behold and it is easy to see what captivated Sir Thomas Villiers, who built Adisham at a particularly stunning spot and Walter Stanley Senior.

Senior's love of the place was such that although he retired to England his ashes were interred at the churchyard of St Andrews, Haputale. The inscription on the headstone, taken from his own poem Lanka from Pidurutalagala reads:

Here I stand in spirit,
as in body once I stood Long years ago,
in love with all the land,
This peerless land of beauty’s plenitude

Followed by the words:

He Loved Ceylon

A fitting tribute to the craggy, smoky mountains and deep valleys. The rolling mist, which descends suddenly, together with the sparkling sunshine is a photographers (or painters) delight, possibly even worthy of Turner.

There is little do do in Haputale except breathe the crisp clean air and enjoy the magnificent scenery. An ideal place for solitude, which is probably why the Benedictine Monks turned Adisham into a monastery.

Large groups of noisy tourists please go away.


Sameera Abeysekara said...

Road up to Lipton's Seat though Pitarathmale estate is one of the facinating drives you'll ever get in Sri Lanka. What a scenary.

Enjoyed your post and it helped to refresh my memories.. thanks!

santhoshi said...

Lovely Jp! want to make it there this year.

Jack Point said...

Sameera, thanks for dropping by glad you enjoyed the post.

Santhoshini - please do, I'm sure you will enjoy yourself.

Delilah said...

beautiful :) where did you stay? this is an area i havent being going to simply because i dont know of any hotel.

Cadence said...

Your post made me want to visit Haputale over Nuwaraeliya which we've planned in Aug.

Any details on places to stay would be much appreciated :) Love the pics too.

Jack Point said...

Thanks Delilah and Cadence, glad you liked the pictures. It is one of my favourite places to stay.

The nice places to stay are the Kelburn Cottages (Mountain View Resorts) and the Thotalagala Bungalow, both of which are en-route to Lipton's Seat.

Kelburn are a bit bad when it comes to answering the phone, try a few times over a couple of days, if they fail to do so send them an email. It may take a couple of days for a reply.

Its not cheap either, it works out to about 5k per person (for the Rose Cottage, the cheapest), provided the cottage is filled to capacity but it is very nice.

The Thotalagala Bungalow is the other nice option.which can be booked through Lankem (call the H/O in Fort)

Again it was not cheap, even when I stayed there some years ago but if you can fill the bungalow to capacity then it may work out ok. There is an icy cold swimming pool which should suit the taste of certain people who like running around in the rain....

Both of the above provide food, rather like a hotel, so ask for the rates for food as well.

The two ugly hotels are an option, along with the ugly guest houses.

There is a a slightly nicer one next to the Olympus, but I can't recall the name.

Have a look at the Lonely Planet, if you don't own one, just walk into Vijitha Yapa's and have a leaf through, I seem to remember that the White Money and the Amerasinghe Guest houses were reasonably well reviewed, see also:

There is another option, send me an email if you want details.

Delilah said...

Thanks Jack. And yes, the pool does sound absolutely enticing :)

Jack Point said...


one more thing, you can combine teh journey to Haputale with something else that I have been wanting to do for a long time: a ride in the observation car.

The Kandy-Badulla leg in the observation car is supposed to be stunning. There is supposed to be season to do it in, when the views are particularly spectacular, I've heard stories of the train entering a tunnel in bright sunshine and leaving it in clouds of mist etc. The golden rule is to avoid the rainy season because if there is heavy mist visibility is restricted.

Haputale is two or three towns before Badulla so just get in to the train in Fort and get off at Haputale and take a taxi to the hotel and return the same way. I was told observation car tickets need to be purchased about 10 days in advance.

Some further reading here:

Delilah said...

Thanks. And yes, the train ride is defintely a good idea.

Cadence said...

Thanks Jack. A bunch of friends were just discussing taking the observation train to Diyathalawa. Must propose Haputale.

Jack Point said...

Cadence, Diyatalawa is quite close to Haputale, so it was the same train they were proposing but I think stopping off at Haputale is a better idea.