A sprightly town nestled in the midst of the misty emerald green peaks of the Central Hills; Hatton is bounded by ceaseless emerald tea plantations, vibrant blossoming flowers, murmuring brooks and gushing waterfalls that are symbolic of Sri Lanka’s quaint highlands.
Hatton is the largest city in the Nuwara Eliya District of Central Province, Sri Lanka and was founded by the British during the colonial era. This region, with its cool climate and has come to be known as “Little England”. Perched at an altitude of 1,271 meters, it resides 129 kilometers from Colombo and 44 kilometers to the south of Kandy. The trains journeys from and towards the Central highlands of Sri Lanka are famed to be amongst the most the most scenic train rides in the world.
The town is widely recognized as the Tea Capital of the island and a crucial centre of Sri Lanka’s prominent tea industry due to numerous significant tea plantations such as Maskeliya, Talawakelle, Bogawantalawa and Dickoya that are located in its vicinity. Scenic strolls or cycling through the verdant tea valleys, mountains, reservoirs, vibrant gardens and architecture of the region are popular activities among tourists who visit Hatton.
Hatton also serves as an entryway to the historic and sacred Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada), a conical mountain widely renowned and visited by local and foreign pilgrims from all walks of life. Atop this mount lay a shrine and a rock formation embracing an imprint of a foot believed to be that of Buddha’s and Shiva’s by Buddhists and Hindus respectively, while Muslims and Christians believe it to be Adam’s or St. Thomas’. Ascending this peak during twilight to catch a glimpse of the first rays of the dawning sun, iridescent above a carpet of clouds, is undoubtedly worth this renowned hiking trip.
The stunning and iconic Castlereigh (Castlereagh) Reservoir too is a popular tourist attraction in Hatton. It is created by the gravity dam – Castlereigh dam. The reservoir serves as a true exemplar of the amalgamation of human ingenuity with nature. The water from this reservoir is utilized for the generation of hydroelectricity in Sri Lanka. It is unquestionably a sight to behold with several high-class bungalows and establishments overlooking the magnificent reservoir. The Castlereigh Water Airport also resides here.
The wondrous St Clairs Falls, referred to also as “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka”, lies in this region as well. Devon Falls, Laxapanda Falls, and Aberdeen Falls are other popular cascades that are in close proximity to Hatton. The entryway to the renowned Horton Plain’s National Park is also situated in this region.
Hatton was founded by the British during the colonial British Raj. The name ‘Hatton’ derived from a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. A number of the tea estates in the area are also named after Scottish villages.
The Hatton region was initially used for coffee plantations, which proved unsuccessful. It was subsequently used for the plantation of tea instead. The plantations flourished and continue to do so today. The British also established locomotive systems to transport their produce from the highlands to Colombo. The Hatton Railway Station, situated in-between the Rozella and Kotagala Railway Stations, was opened 4 June 1884.
How to Get There
There are many options of travel from Colombo to Hatton which are by train, road, bus and air:
By car – It is approximately a 4 hour drive from Colombo to Hatton. Renting a car would be a comfortable choice; however it is bound to cost significantly more than the public modes of transport. There are 2 route options from Colombo to Hatton.
1. Avissawella Route : The access point for this route is the Kotte – Bope Road (B240) and thereafter the Panagoda – Embulagama Road (B354) until you reach the Avissawella – Hatton – Nuwara Eliya Road (A7 Highway). From A7, take the 2nd exit onto Dimbulla Road and on to the Hatton – Maskeliya – Dalhousie Road (B149) until you reach Hatton.
2. Kandy Route : The entry point for this route is the Colombo – Kandy Road (A1 Highway or AH43) and then onto Yakkala – Radawana Road (B479 Highway). Continue on this route and take the Talduwa -Meewitigammana Road (B408) and Nittambuwa – Ruwanwella Road (B445) to Kegalle -Bulathkohupitiya – Karawanella Highway in Ruwanwella. From here follow the Avissawella – Hatton – Nuwara Eliya Highway (A7) to Dimbulla Road (Hatton – Maskeliya – Dalhousie Road or B149) in Hatton till you reach your destination.
Once you reach the highlands the drive becomes quite twisty and winding as the roads climb up the hills; it is advisable for those with motion sickness to come prepared. Tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can arrangements to rent a car for you.
By train – This is the most popular form of travelling to Hatton; the ride is comfortable, affordable and also famed as one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world. The closest railway station to get to Hatton is the Colombo Fort Railway Station, which has daily Express Trains departing to Hatton several times a day.
The ‘Podi Menike’ Express Train departs Colombo Fort Railway Station at 5:55 am, ‘Udarata Menike’ Express Train at 8:30 am, 1007 Express Trains at 9:45 am and another Express Train at 12:40 pm. There is also a Night Mail Train departing at 8 pm. The journey takes approximately 5 hours and fifteen minutes. These trains could also be boarded from the Kandy Railway Station.
Seats are available in 1st Class, 2nd Class and 3rd Class, with 1st Class Sleeper available on few overnight trains which carry sleeping-berths. Incredibly popular among tourists is the 1st Class Observation Car, available only on certain daytime trains, which provide a wide vista of the surrounding scenery. It is advisable to book the tickets a few days prior to your journey; your tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can assist you with these arrangements.
By bus – Travelling to Hatton by bus is a cheap alternative; however the journey is lengthy and can be quite exhausting. You can aboard the no. 18-2 bus from Central Bus Stand at Colombo Fort which is Hatton bound. There are plenty of direct buses to Hatton with stops in Kaduwela, Avissawella and Ginigatthena which are often an hour faster than buses that travel through Kandy – Gampola that are frequently subjected to transfers.
By air – Cinnamon Air and Sri Lankan Airlines operate daily flights to Castlereagh Reservoir terminal in Hatton via the Colombo City airstrip at Waters Edge, Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. Even though this is an expensive mode of travel, it is the quickest and the views that unfold below you along the way are spectacular. Tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can make booking arrangements for you.
From Kandy – The distance between Kandy and Hatton is 68 kilometers which could be crossed via driving, which would take approximately 2 hours. Boarding a bus from Kandy to Hatton is another option. Travelling from Kandy to Hatton by train is also viable; the ´Podi Menike´, ´Udarata Menike´ and 1007 Express Trains which depart from Colombo also makes halts at Kandy and can be boarded from the Kandy Railway Station.
Hatton is quite temperate and has a tropical climate. Significant amount of rainfall persists throughout the year, even in the driest month. The average temperature varies very little and the average annual temperature is 19.9 °C.
May, April and June are the warmest months of the year with temperatures around 22.4°C and October is the wettest month of the year.
The peak pilgrimage season for the sacred Adam’s Peak, situated close by to Hatton, is April. It is also frequently scaled from December to May. Thick mists, rains and strong winds make the climb rather challenging during other months of the year.
Food and Drink
There are several restaurants in Hatton which mostly serve local cuisine, however there are few eateries which serve Indian, Asian and Western cuisines as well. Among the popular spot in Hatton are Tea Hills Restaurant, Railway Lodge Restaurant, Hill Cool Restaurant and The Kiwis Family Restaurant.
A stop at Zesta Tea Cup to enjoy a soothing cuppa Ceylon’s finest tea is a must when visiting this part of the island!
Adam’s Peak – Hike the historic and revered Adam’s Peak, visited by pilgrims from around the world. At its summit is a rock formation embracing a footprint of believed to be that of Buddha, Shiva and Adam by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians respectively. From atop the peak watch the first golden rays of the dawning sun, iridescent above the chilly carpet of ivory clouds.
Castlereagh Reservoir – Cruise the calm crystal waters of the Castlereagh Reservoir via local catamaran (dugout canoe) and cast your fishing lines into its blue waters. You can even picnic along its beautiful bank that is surrounding by lush emerald hills. The Castlereigh Water Airport also resides here.
Christ Church Warleigh – Pay a visit to the quaint little stone English chapel built in 1878 that resides among the sloping emerald tea fields of Wanarajah Estate. Christ Church in Warleigh is a melancholically beautiful little spectacle in Hatton.
Adisham Bungalow (Hall) – Visit the longstanding stone manor that once belonged to the English aristocrat and planter, Sir Thomas Villiers. Explore its enchanting gardens with blooming flowers that still retains an English charm. The bungalow currently houses the Adisham Monastery of Saint Benendict and also embraces a relic of Pope Sylvester I at the chapel. Be sure to grab a delicious jar of jam or a fresh drink produced by its farms when you make the visit!
Mlesna Tea Castle – This castle is a must visit for tea lovers as its houses wide array of aromatic pure Ceylon tea, in blended and flavoured varieties. Mlesna Tea Castle which overlooks stunning sceneries of Devon Falls and the St. Claire’s valley has a café to eat and drink, and also offers visitors a marvelous tea tasting experience. The gift shop here sells affordable little tea packages and other tea-related items which make perfect souvenirs of the region!
Cycling in Hatton – Scenic strolls or cycling through the verdant tea valleys, mountains, reservoirs, vibrant gardens and architecture of the region are popular activities among tourists who visit Hatton.
Devon Falls – This splendid waterfall could be witnessed from a special viewpoint established on the Hatton – Nuwara Eliya Road (A7 Highway) in Dimbulla. It is ranked the 19th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.
Laxapana Falls – This brilliant plunge cascade stands 126 meters high and is the 8th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. There are two treks to this Falls; one leads to its splendid base pool and the other leads you to the top of the Falls. Both treks pave way to truly spectacular views that are worth the trip. The waterfall is also the source fuelling the Laxapana Hydropower Stations, which are significant contributors to the national power grid.
Aberdeen Falls – This stunning horsetail cascade contains two pools and is ranked the 18th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. It is located 20 minutes from Laxapana Falls. This too has two scenic treks through thick foliage which will lead you to the Falls; one takes you takes you the middle pool of the falls and the other to its base pool. Aberdeen Falls and its two magnificent pools which lie amidst verdant and unfrequented land, is a undoubtedly a spectacle to behold.
St Clairs Falls – Popularly known as the “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka”, the twin waterfalls of St. Clair’s are the 20th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Located on the Hatton-Talawakele Highway, 500m from the road, the cascade is embedded among lush green tea plantations.