Hakgala Botanical Garden
Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya town

Hakgala Botanical Garden, one of the largest and oldest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka, is located 16 km from the center of Nuwara Eliya, in a mountainous area, at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. The garden covers an area of 25 hectares, on which, thanks to a unique high-mountain microclimate, plants that are not found in other parts of Sri Lanka or in other botanical gardens of the Asian region were able to take root. The Hakgala Botanical Garden was founded in 1860 by the English botanist, Dr. Twights, who at that time was the director of the Royal Botanic Garden near the city of Kandy. Hakgala was originally conceived as an experimental site for the cultivation of the quinine tree (chinchona), from the bark of which raw materials were extracted for the production of quinine. The experiment was so successful that by 1880, Great Britain controlled more than 50% of the world market for the production of quinine. However, due to the high humidity, the chinchona began to suffer root rot, and the hindu trees died. In the Botanical Garden, they tried to grow coffee trees, but they did not take root. Then the territory of the garden was turned into a tea plantation, for which huge areas of wild forest were cut down and destroyed. In 1882, with the advent of the new director, William Knock, various types of plants from around the world began to be planted in the garden, and Hakgala began to acquire the features of a botanical garden. On the territory of the Hakgala Botanical Garden there are sections of pristine rainforest and landscape gardens created by professional designers. Straight alleys and stone gardens with moss-covered boulders, shady grottoes, ponds and streams, traditional wooden bridges, cozy gazebos, well-kept flowerbeds and rose gardens are perfectly combined with thickets of tropical plants. More than 10,000 species of plants grow in Hakgal, here you can find cedars from Australia, Japan and Bermuda, cypresses from the Himalayas and China, giant ficus and crypotomerism, English oak and pine from New Caledonia, camphor tree, ferns and many other exotic plants. In the Rose Garden, hundreds of species of the “flower queen” from different parts of the world are planted. The Orchid Garden is striking in the variety of mountain orchids, many of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. In the garden, cacti and daisies, sansevier and forget-me-nots, calatheas and poinsettias grow equally "magnificent". Local residents have their own explanation for this coexistence in one place of plants "incompatible" in nature. In ancient times, the insidious demon Ravana ruled in Ceylon, who stole a bride, the beautiful Sita, from the ancient Indian king Rama. It was in these places that Ravana hid the girl, for her he created a magnificent magical garden, using his demonic power. Until now, the Hakgala Botanical Garden has been called by locals Sitia (the name comes from Sita). Hakgala Garden is one of the main attractions of the island of Sri Lanka, annually it is visited by about 500,000 people.