From history, to city, to tea plantations, to mountain landscapes, Haputale has it all.
The town of Haputale hugs a mountain ridge at 1,431 metres above sea level, on the southern edge of the Hill Country. Just over 5,000 inhabitants, mainly of Indian Tamil and Sri Lankan Tamil descent, call this place home. The town is a bustling jumble of cars, motorcycles, shops, and people, but walk out of the town center to find yourself on a mountain ridge overlooking tea plantations. On a clear night, keep an eye out for lighthouses that dot the southern coast!
Haputale is a good jumping off point for visiting Horton’s Plains National Park and the other attractions in Hill Country. Many tea estates fill the area. The Dambatenne Tea Factory (which is one of Lipton Tea’s production centers and was home of Sir Thomas J. Lipton many years ago) still uses traditional tea production methods. A nearby lookout point (Lipton’s Seat) offers beautiful views of the area.
Better arrive early! Clouds can set in by mid-morning.
Things to Do and Places to Visit
1. Haputale Gap
If you are passing Beragala and visiting Haputale, this is the best place to stop for a break. Haputale Gap is a spectacular viewpoint on a clear day. Starting from the lower highlands in Uva province, and this view goes to southern Plains as well. Some may have seen the Indian ocean as a bright blue line far away from the viewpoint.
Over the Mahawathenna valley, the line of mountains is named, Ohiya, Idalgashinna, Poonagla and Namunukula. Also, the Horton Plains National Park is giving value to the Haputale gap viewpoint.
2. Poonagala Hill
Poonagala hills is another mountain range in the central hills of Sri Lanka with a few fantastic viewpoints. You need to reach the Koslanda Junction if you are coming from Nuwara Eliya and then get through the Poonagala state. Then trek for about 2-kilo meters and take the uphill road from the junction you meet with after the Hindu shrine. The viewpoints are over 4,100 feet above sea level in Poonagala mountain. As the colonial rulers enjoyed the views of lowland valley from the mountain tops, these were famous hangout spots for them. Especially for the planters, they lived close to the estates and had good times on the top of the tea estates.
The main viewpoint is known as the Pilkington Point, named after the first Managing Director of the ‘Poonagala Valley Co. Ltd. In this point, you will get a chance to enjoy the panoramic view of low southern lands and eastern Plains of Sri Lanka as well. Due to the mist, you may start the journey a bit early so you can reach the summits with a clear sky. After the Pilkington Point, you can reach the next lower viewpoint called “Millenium point”. Both were having incredible views, and you will get the best experience after a long trek to the peak.
3. Lipton’s Seat
Lipton seat is also a famous viewpoint in the area for a spectacular view. First, you need to travel around 18 kilometres to reach the starting point of the journey. Then you can take the road next to Dambethanna Tea Factory and walk or drive up to seven-kilo meters. The entrance boards are there at the beginning of the narrow paved roads, so you can easily find the way. As you have to walk through the tea estate, you will meet some of the original stone constructions from the colonial era. This trek is one of the best ways to enjoy walking through the lush tea gardens.
Once you arrive at the view, the first thing you see is the statue of sir. Thomas Lipton on the summit point. He was a Scottish tea planter working together with Sir James Taylor to improve tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Later he started selling Tea under the brand name “Lipton” over the UK and Europe for several decades. This statue shows how he enjoyed sitting there and contemplate his tea estate in the evenings. Some may say that it is best to visit Liton seat in morning hours to get the complete view. The view consists of 7 provinces with along lakes, valleys and Hambanthota port from the Southern coast as well. However, the evenings are also a high chance of capturing the golden rays of the sun with the most picturesque views of the sky. So if you are visiting Haptale, this is a must-see for anyone who loves nature and enjoys the best viewpoint in the hill country.
4. Dambathenna Tea Factory
When Sir Thomes Lipton visited Sri Lankan in 1980, he wanted to make a big tea factory to get enough supply for his business. Since then, he imported the best available machinery and started this factory for his business “Lipton” tea. Even after decades, this factory is continuously working with the same old machinery. So if you want to understand the art of tea processing from the Colonial era, this is the best place to visit. Still, they are pioneer in the business of Ceylon tea under the brand name “Lipton”ceylon tea.
Dambathenna tea factory is just around 18 kilometres away from the Haputale town. As it is above 1566m from the sea level, you get to drive through the lush tea gardens until you meet this legendary factory. As a part of the educational programs, they conduct a tea tour every day at the factory premises. They take you through the entire process of tea making in different parts of the factory. However, in some areas, you are not allowed to take pictures, yet they give helpful explanations for everything. This tea tour costs around 1.7$ per head for one session. The entire journey takes about one hour, and you will go through all the sections and learn the art of tea-making within that time. Not like all the other tea factories, this factory doesn’t have a souvenir shop. So you can buy tea from the factory itself and also enjoy a freshly picked cup of Ceylon tea after the tea tour.
5. Benedictine Monastery of Adisham
Also known as Adisham bungalow, is a scenic and beautiful place located in Haputale. It was a country home for a British planter, Sir Thomas Villiers. Since he was born in an area called Adisham in England, he named this as “Adisham Bungalow” in 1931. As it was his dream home, all the furniture and interior was built with Burma teak. This mansion was designed in Tudor style with granite walls in the same size and narrow pathways. So it was one of the luxurious villas during the colonial era.
After the death of him, the land and the house was sold to Sedawatte Mills. However, in 1961 it was taken from a church and was turned into a monastery by the Benedictine monks. So they decided to show a part of the bungalow for the general public on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. Other than the bungalow, you can visit the large garden area with beautiful rose gardens. Also, they have an outlet to sell their organic fruit products in one corner of the yard. All the profits from the sales are getting to the maintenance of the bungalow and the monks. If you are visiting Haputale, it is just five kilometres away from the town in Boralanda Road. It is a must-visit, as it is a very scenic and calm place to enjoy a couple of hours in between misty mountains.
6. St. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s Anglican church is a definitive piece of British architecture in Haputale area. Since most of the planters were Catholics, they wanted to build churches near their residences. So this church was constructed during the British colonial period, over one hundred and fifty years ago. Some beautiful features of the English architecture remain in the church. The church is well known for a graveyard just outside, which is the resting place of many British colonial tea-planters. The plaques on the walls are well preserved even after a few decades. As a notable grave, Mr Walter Stanley Senior, the writer of the beloved Hymn for Sri Lanka is also resting under the grounds of St. Andrew’s Anglican church. And also don’t forget to have a look of fantastic glass wall arts on windows, which is a common feature of Anglican churches.
It is not far from the town, just after passing the bus station, travel to Welimada side. It is on a small hilltop on your right hand. It gives a beautiful view of the entire area, and it is worth to pay a visit while passing the town. But not just the view, there are exciting stories to hear from the graveyards as well.
7. Prabhawa Mountain Day Viewpoint
Prabhawa mountain day viewpoint is another excellent viewpoint to stop by in Haputale area. It is a part of main Haputale mountain range that you need to walk in Dambethenna Road. The road starts from the Hindu kovil, and you need to walk on the bumpy yet beautiful road until you reach the summit. There are signboards with arrows, so you don’t get lost in the middle of tea estates. Once you walk around 1.5-kilometres, you are getting to a 360 panoramic viewpoint.
As it has a comprehensive view of the entire Haputale area, you can spend some time here to have a better look. A viewpoint is an excellent place with lots of trees and shades, and it is a unique way of spending some time on the summit. Even after a tiring trek in a challenging road, the view will take the tiredness away. Even the mornings are better for hikes in the hill country, the sunset also a great view from here. If you trek in a late evening to watch the sunset, you will genuinely be amazed by the beauty of nature with the golden beams of sun kissing the mountains.
8. Idalgashinna Railway Station
Idalgashinna railway station is one of the highest railway stations in Sri Lanka. As it is above 1500 meters from the sea level, it has a special place compared to the other stations in the same mainline. Located in small hilltop with a bend in the railway line makes it a perfect destination for a little hike. Due to the unique location, this railway station has viewed on both sides. The mountain behind the station is a great spot to enjoy the misty hills far away.
In a clear day, you can enjoy the expanded view until the southern Plains of the country. In one hand it goes until the Haputale mountain range and Beragala plains from the other side. Also wit the magnificent architecture of Colonial area, it has a charming old English look for the stone building of the station. Since this small mountain is covered in mist most of the time, it is an excellent stop to have superb daybreak to relax under the pine trees.
9. Ohiya, Idalgashinna Railway Hike
Railway hikes are a popular option in Sri Lanka to enjoy the hill country splendidly. Among all other walks, Ohiya, Idalgashinna rail hike is one of the must-do in Haputale area. Ohiya is a small town with a railway station situated above 1,771meters from sea level. The Idalgashinna railway station is nine-kilo meters away from the Ohiya station. Surprisingly there are 14 tunnels in between these two railway stations. It may take around two to three hours to complete the trek through the tea estates, pine forests and little villages. This is a way of enjoying the true beauty of rural Sri Lanka as most of these small villages are very peaceful and less touristic.
This journey takes so much patience as you cross 14 tunnels. Since then you need to talk the Ohiya railway station and clarify with the train times before starting the trek. There is only a very few trains are using the road during day time, however checking with them is an excellent safety precaution. Also taking a flash will be useful when crossing the tunnels, with full of bats clickety-clacketting above you. Starting the trek during the morning time around 8 AM is a great deal as you don’t have to stop by the tracks as no trains are coming around that time.
10. Tangamalai Bird Sanctuary
As one of the lesser-known sanctuaries in Sri Lanka, Tangamalai bird sanctuary is worth visiting if you get to visit Haputale. There are two access roads to the sanctuary, and the easiest one is close to the Adisham Bungalow. The other entrance is starting next to Idalgashinna railway station if you are coming from Ohiya side. It is a misty small forest patch with high biodiversity including a few endemic birds as well. The entire forest trail is around 4.3 kilometres that you can trek in a misty hill covered with green trees. The vegetation is very different from lowlands, and high montane forests are dark and foggy half of the day.
The 131 hectares of land is a great place to watch birds in a peaceful environment away from the crowds. First, this sanctuary was a part of Glenmore estate and became a protected area in 1938. You need to buy a ticket from the entrance, which is just a couple of dollars. As this is in a higher altitude, you can see the surrounding mountains from the viewpoint of Tangamalai bird sanctuary. The view includes Uva basin, the mountain ranges of Thotupola, Mountains in Haputale, the valley of Diyatalawa, Pidurutalagala and Hakgala as well. Since most birds are active during the early hours of the day, getting to the bush before sunrise could be a great day for you to have a fantastic birding experience.
11. Diyaluma Falls
Diyaluma is a giant waterfall located one hour away from the Haputale town. As it is the third highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, the view from the top is incredible if you could reach out. The easiest way to get to the base of the trek is taking Beragala road and get down from Koslanda. Then taking the road to Poonagala estate is the popular route to visit the top of the waterfall. However, there is another route to start from the base of the waterfall as well. If you are an adventurous person, you will not regret taking the Koslanda route. It is a bit challenging yet an adventurous journey through a large grass area after the tea estate. As this is has a small herd of wild elephants, always pay attention to the noises you hear as well.
The top of the main waterfall, there is another waterfall called “Upper Diyaluma” which is unbelievably beautiful. With several cascades, a waterfall comes through the rocks and makes several natural swimming pools. Once you pass the waterfall on the top, you can walk to the top of the main Diyaluma waterfall. It has a beautiful view above 220 meters from the base. The entire area has small swimming pools that you could dip in the whole day. The main pool is overlooking the mountains range with a breathtaking view that feels like you are in an infinity pool. So if you do wish to enjoy nature’s luxurious at its best, hiking up to Diyaluma is the best thing you can do while at Haputale.
12. Devil’s Seat in Beragala Mountain
Devil’s seat in Beragala mountain is not famous for hikes, yet can be extremely adventurous. It is a massive rocky outcrop in the top of Beragala mountain, which looks like a seat made for a devil. Even no one can reach the seat as it has no access road, the hike could be a great way of exploring the other side of Haputale mountain range. The starting point of the trek is close to the Tangamalai bird sanctuary. So the trek is going around the little forest patch giving you some of the best experiences in nature of walking through a dark misty shade.
For the first few kilometres, you can easily travel by a vehicle or bikes in a gravel road. This area is known as Sri Ramakrishna Upper Division of Beragala estate. After the estate border, there is no proper road, only a footpath to follow in the mist. However, the route is clear until you see the Devil’s seat in the distance. As this rocky outcrop is similar to a chair, you will not miss it. This point of the journey gives you an incredible view of other mountains and southern Plains as well. If you start the trek early, you can reach the summit by noon. So you will get a clear view with fewer clouds and mists. The entire route is updated in Google maps; also, you can find a guide from the local community as well.
Getting In and Around
Buses can be boarded from Bandarawela, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, and Tangalla. Haputale is on the Colombo–Badulla line, so you can travel directly by train to and from Kandy or Newara Eliya, Banderawela, Colombo, Ella, and Ohiya.
When to Go
Best time: January to April.
Time to avoid: October to December.
Where to Sleep
Sri Lanka View Hotel Inn:
For the end-of-the day beer and a good atmosphere, Sri Lanka View Hotel Inn is the right choice. This hotel is the most budget friendly hotel you will ever get near the beautiful Haputale. Make it count and stay here.
Kelburne Mountain View
Traveling with a group? Kelburne Mountain View is your best option! For luxury travelers, this places offers comfort and exudes an aura of sophistication with amenities that put most hotels to shame.
Bawa Guest House
The guesthouse is a perfect place to rest and relax. It’s a budget hotel with comfortable amenities.
The family run Amarasinghe Guesthouse is another welcoming option. This place ensures the best hospitality towards its customers. The owner makes delicious curries and egg sandwiches, to say the least! The cooking class comes with innovative ideas. It is not merely a guesthouse. It’s a lesson in culture! You can learn to cook traditional Sri Lankan dishes, which includes rice and curry.
Where to Eat
Lanka Tea Centre
For quicks bite, the dosas, rotti, and curry, Lanka Tea Centre is the best place to go.
These bakers make some of the best samosas in the town! They’re tempting enough in the late afternoons after a long day of travel. Fortunately, this is the best place to go for an afternoon snack~
Sri Vani Vilas Hotel
Eatto your heart’s content here! This has one of the best vegetarian dishes around. Be sure to taste each of the curries it offers, because they’re well known and popular.
Clearly, Haputale is a happening place! Not only are their historical tea sites to visit—hint: if you love Lipton tea, you don’t want to miss Lipton’s Seat—but there are natural wonders everywhere. Head over to Haputale Gap for stunning views, or do a railway hike along the Ohiya lines. The Tangamalai Bird Sanctuary offers a beautiful haven for the little creatures as well as a must-see place only found in Sri Lanka. Want more adventures? Don’t forget Diyaluma Falls and the Adisham Monastary. Haptule is, undeniable, a place to go where great things happen, so book your stay today!