Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Hakgala Botanical Gardens lie beneath the towering Hakgala Rock some 10km southeast of Nuwara Eliya, with majestic views across the hills of Uva Province receding in tiers into the distance. The rock is allegedly one of the various pieces of mountain scattered by Hanuman on his return from the Himalayas .Its name, meaning “Jaw Rock”, refers to the fact that Hanuman apparently carried the mountain in his mouth. The gardens were first established in 1861 to grow cinchona, a source of the anti-malarial drug quinine, and were later expanded to include a wide range of foreign species.
They’re also well known for their roses (in bloom from April to Aug). The gardens sprawl up the steep hillside, ranging from the anodyne ornamental areas around the entrance to the far wilder and more interesting patches of forest up the hill where you’ll find many majestic Monterey cypresses from California, plus fine old cedars, a section of enormous tree ferns, stands of Japanese camphor, and pines and eucalyptus, including a shaggy cluster of bark-shedding Australian melaleucas. This is also one of the best places in the island to spot endemic montane bird species, including the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka whistling thrush and Sri Lanka bush warbler. You might also catch a glimpse of the elusive bear monkeys that live here. To reach Hakgala, take any bus heading to Welimada or Badulla Head back along the main road towards Nuwara Eliya for about 1.5km.