As I got down at the Haputale Station my immediate words were, “Ah finally!”. Of course that’s not to say that being on the Podi Menike for over 8 hours wasn’t enjoyable. But there’s always that sense of relief when you finally reach your destination. Yet my excitement was all the more same. Why? 2 words. Lipton’s Seat. Few of my friends had suggested that I check out this place since its “amazing”. After hearing so much about the place I decided to check the place out myself.
Prelude To Lipton’s Seat
The time read 2.30 PM. My plan was to head over to the location early morning to catch the sunrise. Until then, I decided I’ll just stroll around the city for a bit before crashing in for the day. I’ll be honest, there’s really nothing much to see in the town. Not at first at least. But as you walk about, every now and then you’re treated to a beautiful mountain view up ahead in the distance. The weather wasn’t too bad either. It was cool, a bit windy and quiet. So the stroll wasn’t too bad actually.
Coming to Haputale, the plan was to get up early morning and start hiking to get to Lipton’s Seat on time. But as it turns out, the location was almost 18km away from the town and there’s really not much of a hike to get there. Guess I was taking a tuk tuk then.
So early next morning, I hopped on to a tuk tuk and set off to Lipton’s Seat. The driver agreed to take me there and get me back to Haputale town for Rs. 1,600, while promising me that we won’t miss the sunrise. In case you’re wondering, yes 1,600 is quite a bit expensive for 18km(technically 34km for the whole trip) . But then again, this was the best bargain as anybody could get here in these parts.
The Moment Of Truth
About 45 minutes later, we finally arrived at our destination. The time was exactly 6.00 in the morning and I was still early for the sunrise. However, I wasn’t alone. Lipton’s Seat may not be as famous as Ella or Horton Plains. But it still gets its fair share of visitors. So there I was, waiting and waiting. The mountains were barely visible. But as the sun began to show up on the far side of the mountains, the view started to light up. About a good 15 minutes later, the entire stretch went from grayish black to bright shades of yellow and green. The view was all mountains of tea plantations, different shades of green all around. If you look hard enough you could see the lakes at the far side, like little puddles of water from where I was standing.
As I was enjoying the magnificence of Lipton’s Seat, my driver came up to me and started pointing out what I was actually seeing. “There’s Nuwara Eliya. That’s Ambewela. That’s the Sabaragamuwa Province and on the other side is Hambantota”, he mentions. Yes, you can even see Hambantota from these parts. In fact, I was told that during times when Sri Lanka played any international cricket matches at the Sooriyawewa Grounds (that’s in Hambantota), you could actually see the flood lights from up here.
I made my journey to Haputale expecting a breath taking view and I wasn’t disappointed. Heaven in the hills indeed.
Haputale, Is There More?
It’s not just the beautiful mountain range view, there are also a few other places of interest here at Haputale.
1. Adisham Bungalow
Built in the early 1900’s, Adisham is said to have been the creation of one Sir Thomas Lister Villiers. Today, this is a monastery run by Benedictine monks. If you’re a history fan, then Adisham Bungalow is a must visit. There are plenty of interesting stories on offer here. The bungalow is open for public only on weekends, public holiday and school holidays.
By the way, the monks who run Adisham cultivate fruits and vegetables at the monastery. Their natural cordials, jams and jellies are actually part of the reason why Adisham is famous.
2. Thangamale Bird Sanctuary
All you nature lovers and hikers alike, here’s something that might peak your interest. Just towards the back of Adisham Bungalow, is a path. This path will take you through the Thangamale Bird Sanctuary. The route will greet you with some great views, and if you’re lucky an abundance of birds too. If you visit the Bird Sanctuary during April and August periods there’s a better chance you’ll spot a few birds, or so I was told.
The hike would usually take a little less than 2 hours to complete, and it ends exactly at the Idalgashinna Train station.
3. Dambatenna Tea Factory
On the way to Lipton’s Seat, you’ll come across the Dambatenna Tea Factory. While there’s nothing breath taking or extravagant, the tea factory could still offer some interesting insights. Particularly if you’re a curious individual who wants to experience how tea is actually produced. For around Rs. 200, the factory will get you a guide to give you a full tour of the place.
Bidding Adieu to Lipton’s Seat
So there you have it. My little trip to Haputale finally comes to an end. But was the 8 hour trip on the train all worth it? My answer is a resounding yes. Hands down, the view from Lipton’s Seat was one of the best I’ve seen so far. This was the perfect getaway from all the hassle of the everyday rush that most of us are accustomed to. If you get the chance, please do visit this place. You will not be disappointed.