10 km on the Badulla Road. An ornamental garden associated with the Hindu epic Ramayana it is a scenic place with paths, shrubbery, ferneries, shady groves, lush foliage and flowers. The rose garden with over 100 varieties of special note. Entrance fee Rs. 50 per person and Rs 30 per motor car.
Where plants and trees from around the world, are seen in one place, Haggala Botanical Gardens, just 10km away from Nuwara Eliya City. Haggala is one of the places one visits as an essential part of a pleasant journey in the famous hill resort of Nuwara Eliya. The site is legendary. It was once the pleasure garden of Ravana of the Ramayana epic and according to many, it was one of the places where beautiful Sitha was hidden by the demon king. The present botanical gardens were founded in 1860 by the eminent British botanist Dr. G.H.K. Thwaites who was the superintendent of more famous gardens at Peradeniya, near Kandy.
It was the site initially for experiments with cinchona whose bark yielded quinine, esteemed as a tonic and febrifuge. Quinine at that time was widely used as a specific medicine for Malaria. This was perhaps the reason for the popularity of tonic in these parts - quinine being the principle ingredient of tonic water. The cool, equable climate of Haggala area, whose mean temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, encouraged the introduction of suitable temperate zone plants, both ornamental and useful. These included conifers and cedars from Australia, Bermuda and Japan, and cypresses from the Himalayas, China and as far a field as Persia, Mexico and California. New Caledonia gave Haggala a special variety of pines and there are specimens of this genus from the canary Island as well.
An English oak, introduced around 1890, commemorates the "hearts of oak" of Britain's vaunted sea power, and there is a good-looking specimen of the camphor tree, whose habitat is usually in regions above 12,000m. If you have left your heart in an English garden, you will surely find it again in Haggala's Rose garden. where the sights and scents of these glorious blooms can be experienced in their infinite variety. From there it is a quiet stroll from the sublime to the exotic sophistication of the orchid House. A special attraction here is the verity of montane orchids, many of them endemic to Sri Lanka.
It would be in the worst possible taste to describe the Fernery as a collection of "vascular cryptograms" But that is how the dictionary describes the plant whose delicate fronds conjure up visions of misty grottoes, lichen-covered stones and meandering streams. The Fernery at Haggala is a shady harbour of many quiet walks, in the shade of the Haggala Rock, shaped like the jawbone of an elephant, from which the place gets its name. Sri Lanka's ferns are well represented here, as are those of Australia and New Zealand.
Haggala is a temperate hill-country garden where also the languid low-country lotus and water lily floats in their serene loveliness. Pinks and blues emerging from a flat- floating background of lush leaves, recall the calm of yellow-robed monks, white-clad, devotees and flickering oil lamps. In time, the highlands bracing breezes dispel the languor of lotus land and even cause a shiver as a temperature lowers. The Haggala Botanical Gardens is one of the lovely contrasts of Sri Lanka, a home to plants and trees from around the world, making them seem to be a part of the scenic beauty.