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Timings : Gardens: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM; Nursery: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

Entry Fee : LKR 1500 for adults; LKR 750 for children

Hakgala Gardens, Nuwara Eliya Overview

The Hakgala Botanical Garden is the second largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka. It is a part of the Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve and was established in 1861. It has a wide variety of plants and some exotic animal species with the entire garden divided into different sections, dedicated to different plant species, like ferns, cacti, orchids, etc. It is situated on the Badulla Highway and is about 5 kilometres away from the city of Nuwara Eliya. It is said that the Hakgala Gardens was in fact, 'Ashok Vatika'', from the Hindu epic 'The Ramayana''. Since these gardens are on an elevated ground, the climate mostly ranges from cool to moderately hot.

The Hakgala Botanical Garden is the second largest, and one of the few famous botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. It was established in 1861 by Dr G.H.K. Thwaites, for experimenting with the growth of Cinchona. The garden has different sections, where each part hosts a particular plant species. The garden forms brilliant biodiversity, where exotic birds and animals coexist with the rare plants grown there. The average temperature of the garden ranges from 16°C to 30°C, making it cold to moderately hot throughout the year. 

The Hakgala Botanical Garden is on the Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Highway, near the famous Seetha Amman Temple. It has a lot of historical significance since the Hindus believe that this was where King Ravana had his famous pleasure garden - The Ashok Vatika. The garden takes about two hours to explore and provides the facility of moving around in a golf cart. It has various exotic plant species, and some rare wildlife, hence creating beautiful biodiversity within itself. It is one of the many places in Sri Lanka, that is closely associated with the Ramayana. So whether you want to get a taste of the Hindu culture, or you want to experience being one with nature, the Hakgala Gardens are a must-visit.

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Entry fees

The entry fees for the Hakgala Botanical Gardens for foreigners is LKR 1500 for adults and LKR 750 for children. For the locals, the price is LKR 60.

Timings

The Gardens remain open from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The nursery, however, is accessible only until 3:00 PM.

Folklore

Following the Hindu epic, 'The 'Ramayana', Ravana - the king of Lanka - had captured Sita Devi and held her as a prisoner in Lanka. He gave her access to a pleasure garden called 'Ashok Vatika'', during her period of captivity. It is said that modern-day Hakgala garden was called Ashok Vatika. This area was then named Seetha Eliya, and the Seetha Amman Temple, where Sita Devi was believed to have prayed for Lord Rama to come to rescue her, was built here.

History

The Hakgala Botanical Garden went through many experiments before being converted into a tourist attraction that we know about today. It was established by Dr  George Henry Kendrick Thwaites (an English botanist and entomologist) in the year 1861 when he wanted to cultivate Cinchona - a medicinal plant used to obtain quinine for the treatment of Malaria - as an experiment. Later on, the area was converted into a tea plantation, to experiment with the growth of tea in that land. Finally in 1884, the British turned the tea plantation into a botanical garden, with well-curated shrubs and various kinds of flora.

Flora

There is a Rose Garden with more than 100 varieties of roses like Saintpaulia, Primula, Begonia, etc. There is a Spice Garden that has different kinds of trees bearing Spices like Cinnamon, Nutmeg, etc. Then there is an Orchid house that grows all the rare and pretty flowers like Arachnis, Cattleya, and the largest orchid in the world - Grammatophyllum. The Botanical Garden also has a Cactus house with different types of cacti and a Fernery with a wide variety of ferns and old tea bushes that are grown for experimental purposes. There is a Rock Garden that houses many herbaceous plants, an Arboretum, and a Bulb garden that has bulbous plants like Watsonia, Amaryllis, etc. Apart from all of these separate sections, the garden also has sturdy wood providing trees like Eucalyptus, Pines, etc.

Fauna

The Hakgala Gardens may mainly focus on various kinds of plants and shrubs grown over there, but it also houses some rare and exotic species of birds and animals. The most popular ones being the Sloth bear, the Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys, the Sambhur, etc. Some other species of birds are the Ceylon Jungle Fowl, the Black-Winged Kite, the Brown Shrike, etc. These birds also include migratory birds that visit the gardens during the North-east monsoon.

Best Time To Visit

Since the garden is at an elevation of 5400 ft, the atmosphere around it is serene. Therefore, the annual average temperature ranges from 16°C to 30°C. In this area, the cold season begins in December and goes on till February. Whereas, the warm season begins in April and goes on until August.

Location

The Hakgala Botanical Garden is located approximately 16 kilometres from the central city of Nuwara Eliya. It is on the Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Highway.

How To Reach Hakgala Gardens

The Botanical Gardens are about 5 kilometres from the central city of Nuwara Eliya. So you can opt for a tuk-tuk from the town.

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