Saturday, 4 February 2017

Botanic Gardens Kandy, Glenloch Tea Plantations, Nuwara Eliya: Day 4/5

Architecture (some) In Sri Lanka

I usually record something about local architecture and that in Sri Lanka showed the usual regional variations you get in most countries. Given that our starting point was what we had seen in India, Sri Lanka in general seemed to start higher up the scale. 

Old SL

In Kandy we saw a lot of relatively basic buildings

Old 1

with a large amount of corrugated roofing still in use.

Old Buildings

Invented around 1840, corrugated iron spread throughout the colonies and therefore it was no surprise to see it here. 

Art Deco Regal

Tucked away here and there were some buildings with architectural merit such as this cinema which quite clearly has some Art-Deco tones about it.

Film Advert

It was showing the latest Sri Lankan blockbuster, Aloko Udapadi which would have been fun to see had we had the time. 

Pizza Hut

There is of course a growing amount of western concrete design appearing here as in all other countries.

Modern SL

I include Pizza Hut and KFC simply to show that they are here and just as ugly and brutal in their impact as they are anywhere in the world.

The Botanic Gardens

Our day began at the Botanic Gardens which started life as a Royal Garden in 1780 and became a Royal Botanic Garden under the British in 1821 and is said to have over 4000 species within. Although the fee to get in is expensive at around £8, it is about 1/2 that of Kew Gardens and here as in most places in Sri Lanka, locals get in for a very reduced price.

RBG Entrance

The gates look appropriately regal although entry is through a ticket booth to one side.

RBG Sign


It is laid out as one might expect with lots of specimen plants as well as plants specially planted in memory of an occasion.


This pond is in front of the Orchid House 

Helicona Rostrataand this plant was also growing outside of the Orchid House - Heliconia Rostrata or the Lobster Claw - a name which is obvious from its shape.








The orchid house was packed with prize specimens but also someone keeping a watchful eye to ensure that nothing disappeared.

Orchid 1

Orchid 2

Orchid 3

Orchid 4

Although good, we thought that the display we had seen at Changi Airport last year was better.

Orchid Welcome

As an aside, above is an orchid garland we were presented with at one of the hotels we checked into. 

There was a Jack Fruit Tree growing nearby

Jack Fruit Tree Jack Fruit

with large examples of the fruit hanging on it almost ready for picking and eating.

There are also trees planted by famous people who have visited the garden including

Queen Elizabeth s Tree

QEs sign

which was planted by Queen Elizabeth in 1981. 

Giant Javan Fig Tree

I could go on posting pictures of trees and plants for much longer but I will finish with the Giant Javan Fig Tree which was planted over 100 years ago - its foliage covers a ground area of over half an acre (or over 2400 square metres for the metric amongst us).

Glenloch Tea Plantation

The other thing (apart from Cricket) which I have always associated with Ceylon (and I use the original name here because that is what it was called when I was a child) is Tea. I am not a tea drinker but that did not stop me making a visit to the Glenloch Tea Plantation factory on our way to Nuwara Eliya.

The road from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya rose almost continuously and was very winding. As we drove along, there was a steady increase in the number of small shacks by the roadside selling anything to anybody and it was obvious that those living here had a lower standard of living that those in the cities.

Roadside Stalls

These are typical of the huts we saw selling anything they could.

Soon the hillsides were covered with tea bushes 

Tea on Hills

Tea Bushes

although we were not to see anyone picking tea - what we really wanted to see was the image on this box of tea

Dilmah Tea a

SriLanka TeaHarvest

or this - namely rows of tea pickers with sacks on their backs………….

Having been picked, the tea is taken to a Factory

Glenloch Tea Building

for processing. Our tea guide knew everything about tea and told us 

Tea Explainer

at a fast rate how the picked leaf was turned into the tea we buy.

Tea from plantation

The leaves are spread out

Withering Tray

on large trays through which warm air is blown

Withering air blowers

in order to

Tea to be withered

wither it and thus reduce its moisture content. 

Tea Roller

The withered tea is crushed

Rolled Tea

and sifted into various grades of tea

Rolled Tea different sizes

then fermented to create a taste

Fermenting Tea


Drying Tea

and becomes the final product.

 Finished Tea

This tea factory takes in 1200kg of leaf tea each day and produces 450kg of tea from it - the bulk of the weight reduction being due to the drying process.

A brief guide to making tea is here and a more in depth guide is here.

Golden Flush

Unsurprisingly, Royal Tea was said to be the best (and the most expensive on sale) but we came away with some. The price of tea has been rising over the past few months and the web says that in February 2017, in bulk the average price was around £3.40 per kg - doing the maths shows that it is a very low wage industry.

Nuwara Eliya 

The road on to Newara Eliya goes within viewing distance of one of Sri Lanka’s waterfalls - the Ramboda Falls which are the 11th highest in the country

Ramboda Falls

Ramboda Falls 001

and it was doing what waterfalls do.

Travellers near falls

We met two travellers there 

Ramboda Valley

who were looking over the valley below the falls. 

It is an interesting town that is unlike any other we have seen in Sri Lanka. It is at 6200 ft and originally was a hill country station because it is much cooler at that height. It seems to have a desire to still emulate the original colonial era and perhaps also how the motherland is seen now.

House for sale

This was an advert for large totally un-Sri Lankan type houses in a local gated community. The website on the poster even talks about log fires. 

Post Office

This is the post office in the town and it would not look out of place in Surrey.

Hill Side House

This hillside house would look perfectly at home an English hillside.


This however would look a bit odd in England - a topiary elephant picture snatched quickly out of the window of our coach as we drove by. 

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