A visit to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens would be the crowning glory of a tour of Nuwara Eliya. The sloping road from Nuwara Eliya to Badulla would lead to two old green gates that welcomes every visitor into one of the most alluring and beautiful gardens of Sri Lanka. The gardens were believed to be one of the highest in the world. Situated atop a slope under the peak of Hakgala rock.
It was established in 1861 for the cultivation of Cinchona which was a flourishing commercial crop of the time. However once the tea industry replaced Cinchona, it was converted into a tea cultivation site. Finally being transformed into a botanical garden.
The gardens were landscaped by the British who shaped the place into a spectacle of beauty, with greenery reflected by trees and a plethora of species of flowers set in the chilly climate of this hill country region. Some of the exotic species of flora originate from Netherlands, Japan, Britain and China. There are tropical species of trees, with Alpine and Palms on grasslands. The flower beds were created in decorative patterns and motifs which depict excellent garden architecture.
The Hakgala Botanical Gardens have been divided into different named gardens which are Central pond and Bulb Garden, Lower Flower Garden, Rose Garden which houses large English roses, Orchid Glass House, Upper Flower Garden, Fernery, Rock Garden and Arboretum. There is a trail that connects the gardens to the Hakgala Nature Reserve which is home to diverse wildlife.
The botanical garden is open daily from 8:00am to 5:30pm and the plant nursery closes at 3pm. There are wheelchairs available for hire for the disabled and feeble.