Botanical Gardens Hakgala is situated on the Nuwara Eliya-Badulla main road, 16 km from Nuwara Eliya. It was established in 1861 for the purpose of experimentation and promotion of Cinchona cultivation in Sri Lanka. Once after the Tea replace the Cinchona, it was turned into an experimental Tea cultivation. In 1884 it transformed to a garden since then many sub tropical and some temperate plants were planted in the gardens. Now the garden is famous for number of species of Orchids and Roses.
Climate and Location at the Hakgala Botanical Garden
The garden has a cool temperate climate because of altitude is 5,400 feet above the sea level. The temperature ranges from 3°C to 15° C. While the lowest recorded was 3° C. The gardens receive rainfall from two monsoons. The South West from May to August and the North East from October to December, the annual average rainfall being about 2300 mm. The best time to see the gardens is probably from about mid March to the end of April, popularly known as the Nuwara Eliya seasons. The gardens put up their best display of temperate annual flowers, Roses and Orchids during this period.
The flora of the gardens is distinctly sub tropical and consists of representatives of the indigenous, montane flora intermingled with those introduced from other subtropical countries, systematically planted in various sections of the gardens.
Hakgala Botanical Garden, about 28 hectares in extent, lie under the shadow of the Hakgala Rock (meaning “Elephant’s jaw rock”).This massive rock towers to a height of about 2,200m behind the gardens and the surrounding forest reserve like a solitary giant. The gardens take the shape of several terraces upon the lower slopes of the rock and face the Uva Valley, across which some magnificent views of the Madulsima and the Namunukula range of mountains are seen in the distant landscape.
Folk lore of the Hakgala Botanical Garden
In the folklores, it says Sri Lankan demon King Ravana after abducting Sita, kept her hidden in this area and area was offered to Sita as a pleasure garden, the place finds mention in the Ramayana as Ashok Vatika. The area was named as “Sita Eliya” and “Sita Amman Temple” was built on the site.