The British Touch in Sri Lanka

Tamil tea pickerCity parkSri Lanka - tea plantation 02

Whatever historical conclusions can be drawn about the colonial period (1815-1948), there is no doubt that Britain 's connection with Sri Lanka has been special. The British influence of that period can be seen all around Sri Lanka today. The city of Colombo is full of Old World charm in the sense that it is dotted with colonial buildings and parks. Some of the finest buildings arose at the turn of the century and the Lighthouse, the General Post Office, the old Senate building, deserve a special mention.

Talking about sport, there is no doubt that cricket is almost a religion in Sri Lanka and is played with a passion that far outstrips the way it is played in the Country that first introduced the Gentlemen's game to this island - Britain! Rugby is also a very popular sport and this originated on the playing fields of a certain British Public School ! There is also golf in the most picturesque settings.

Experience the Royal Colombo Golf Club or the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club at an elevation of 6800 feet (1 600 meters) or for that matter, the Victoria Golf Club in Kandy, which to date has maintained its exclusive colonial charm and ambience. The world's most sought-after health drink - tea - was introduced by the British and now well known as Ceylon Tea.

The development of the rail and road networks opening this island destination to the world took place during the British period. Sri Lanka 's strong and democratic political and judiciary systems are generally admired for their fairness - some British influences can naturally be found here. The English language is spoken widely in Sri Lanka with Sinhala and Tamil the main languages of the island.

Go down history with a stroll in the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens in Kandy , the onetime South East Asian Headquarters of Lord Louis Mountbatton during World War II. The most picturesque sites all along the road network were identified by the British as the ideal locations to take a break! ... and rest houses were built. These charming small hotels relive the bygone era.

The British touch continues to this modem day, with the recreation of the "Water wheels". Deep in the beautiful elevated valleys of Sri Lanka, near Kitulgala (the exotic site where the film "the Bridge on the river Kwai" was actually filmed) and Yatiyantota, you may meet a strange sight, that of an apparently ancient water wheel turning gracefully beside a tropical river or stream. These wheels are not grinding corn - their traditional role for a thousand years in distant Europe - but are the driving force behind a new electricity generating system developed to serve isolated villages, where a national grid electricity connection is simply not available. A partnership initiated by a UK charitable trust, the wheels are being locally manufactured and installed by the villagers themselves in a novel self-help programme, whereby whole communities can enjoy the benefit of their own AC, lighting, communications, improved health, education and initiating some local cottage industry. Villagers will be happy to demonstrate how one of man's oldest inventions - dating back over two thousand five hundred years - controlled by locally manufactured electronics, is improving their quality of life and opportunities, all in an environmentally friendly manner, with the British touch!


Playing golf in Sri Lanka golf courses

A legacy from British colonial rule in the 19th century, the game has many nostalgic links to this period. Visitors to Sri Lanka have a choice of three excellent, well-frequented courses, which still retain the colonial facade of the era that founded them.

ROYAL COLOMBO GOLF CLUB - The Royal Colombo Golf Club is one of the island's oldest golf clubs in the world, measuring 5776 meters, 71 par and course rating of 70 length, and has hosted a number of local and regional championship events in the past. The grass on the greens is blue mixture and there are many water holes. The most dramatic hole is hole no. 5, which is beside a picturesque Railway Line, 280 yards & has a dog leg to the left. The railway line is out of bounds with a pond running beside it up to 350 yards from the Tee.

It has a large Club House with facilities for dining, a well equipped golf shop and well-maintained dressing rooms with hot and cold water. The course is situated approx. 8 kms from the Colombo metropolis and about 35 kms from the international airport.

VICTORIA GOLF CLUB - KANDY - The newest addition to Sri Lanka 's golfing assets is the Victoria Golf Course, overlooking the sweeping panorama of the Victoria Reservoir, with only the heavy sounds of rushing water intruding on the silence of a golfing paradise.

The course is set on a large 517 acre site with its extensive 8 kilometers water frontage, surrounded by hills of the Knuckles Range . Superbly landscaped, majestic forest trees interspersed with shrubs are skillfully blended to create a natural terrain through which the course is routed.

Designed by Donald Steel and Company, a renowned firm of British architects and built to the specifications of the United States Golf Association, the landscape had taken full advantage of an extremely picturesque site.

NUWARA ELIYA GOLF CLUB - However for sheer scenic beauty, visitors journey to the hills where the 18-hole Nuwara Eliya Golf Course lies at a chilling elevation of over 2000m. Laid out by the Gordon Highlanders stationed in Nuwara Eliya in 1889, the course is acknowledged to be one of Asia 's best, irresistibly fringed by forest cover and gifted with a stunning view.

Its length at 5,528 meters (par 70) and its narrow fairways make it extremely challenging and provide ample reward to the straight driver. Providing a delightful environmental green belt to the town, the course is basically divided into three parts:

1. The "Brocas Meads' Holes - the area was once a swamp and now consists of the holes in front of the Club House viz, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 16th, 17th, 18th to which may be added the 15th hole which lies over the road on the side of the Club House.

2. The River Holes - in the playing of which a stream has to be crossed no less than 10 times through inaccuracy may lead to further encounters. These are the 4th - 11th holes.

3. " Switzerland " - the 3 hilly testing holes 12th, 13th, 14th - coming as they do at a critical stage in a round make or more often mar a card.


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