Saturday, January 8, 2011

--- Lipton’s Seat ---

The look-out point of true panoramic Beauty of Srilankan Highlands.

“Hey machan wake up..!! "

Friendly word and a tap from my friend woke me up from the deep sleep of  9 hours train journey.
I wiped the mist off the windows and looked around, its almost early morning, and I’m at Haputale railway station. We have traveled 195km through the highlands of Srilanka, from Colombo Fort railways station.

It was a long before plan to go to Haputale, one of the most spectacular towns in Srilanka.
It was a 2 days trip and our first plan is to go the Lipton seat, it is the highest point of the mountain ranges out there, which is named after the famous Tea planter of Ceylon, Sir Thomas Lipton, who used it as a look-out point when surveying the surrounding region of his tea plantations at Dambatenna Estate.

Soon after we get out of the station it is the haputale Town, quite a large town where you can buy anything. After the breakfast from a decent bakery, we a group of 6 hired a van at the nearby bus depot to go to Lipton seat.

We traveled almost like a snake ,hills after hills, turns after turns, and it is  not an easily forgettable  journey, we are completely surrounded by the misty mountain ranges, cool breeze, sounds of tall trees, lines of local tea plucking women carrying the basket on their shoulders, small groups of school children waving at us, sounds of birds, and the noise of the old vans engine. We didn’t talk with each other, cause we were busy admiring the true beauty of Haputale.We were lucky enough to get few local boys with us as guides along the journey who were explaining about the places we were passing.

30 minutes journey brought us to a small busy village which is entirely surrounded by the green mountain ranges and tea estates, which is situated just away from the main tea factory. The people are mostly Tamils and there are few Sinhalese also, and we could be able to see few tourists as well. Another 30 minutes travel along the hills and the gravel roads brought us straight to the Lipton’s seat, a world’s end point.

All we saw is hills after hills, around us. It is said that we can see the entire southern Srilanka which is until the coastal edge. But we could be able to see only a few stretches of lands as the place was covered fully by mist, the locals advised us to reach the place before 7 am, as after 8am the mist will really mess the clear view of the coastal line.

It is 11.30 am, “shall we cook machan?”, said one of our friends. The small morning breakfast didn’t satisfy our stomach. We quickly began preparing our lunch at a corner near the Lipton’s seat, finding water is almost impossible, so we had to go to nearby part of village to bring water where the people are very helpful and even let us charge our phones and use their toilets.
As I was the only one with a camera, i had the privilege of skipping the cooking part and documenting the trip, but i couldn’t resist the urge to go around the hills of Lipton’s seat and photograph the magnificent views which i have never seen in my life.
Time was ideal when i returned after a hour long shooting and my friends started to serve the food. Having a lunch prepared by us at one of the beautiful places in Srilanka and eating it enjoying the scenic beauty and cool breeze of the place is simply cannot be expressed by words. You have to go there and feel it by yourself.
The mist is all over even at the evening, the light slowly started to fade away. We began to setup our camps, out there but it was merely impossible to do so as it was extremely windy and the temperature went down so badly. We didn’t expect this sudden change which is usual at this place after around 5 pm.we decided to get back to a lower level, so we started to climb down the hills from Lipton seat along the gravel road which is almost completely covered by the mist, where it’s very difficult to see what is in front,it is a perfect example which every vehicle drivers should take care of. 
We started to walk down, and a 15 mints walk through the windy mist brought us to a small building which is used by the locals to rest, and we decided to spend our night out there. Two kind locals also stayed with us throughout the night for a support in an unknown place, and we felt sorry that we didn’t bring our sweaters. What more, the night went down with a delicious BBQ, camp fire, songs, and friendly chat. Everyone was enjoying every bit of minutes out there, the Lipton’s place and the nature of haputale made us so.
 Next day morning I’m the first to wake up, it was around 6.30 am, i don’t want the mist to disturb the view at Lipton seat as it did the last day. By the time we grab our bags and run through the bypass roads back to the lepton seat its almost 7.45 am, and the southern coastal line is already faded away, but we could be able to see more and more hills and river systems, roads and towns which we missed last day, I felt why the Great Sir Lipton choose this area as a lookout point,im pretty sure it’s not entirely the survey he did out there, but also he must have  admired & enjoyed the panoramic view the place providing.
I would simply say, being out there in the middle of Heaven of Nature, is truly relaxing, a MEDITATION!..

The sun was bright that day. We spent few hours out there taking group snaps, and got ready to get down to haputale town. I really didn’t want to leave the place. It is truly a paradise for any nature lovers and Photographers. And it is a very romantic place as well.
The decent was not quite good, the mist is low, and the sun is up sky. And we got 7km to get down along the road and bypassing shortcut roads. Every bit lands we passed made us craving to visit the place again, we are almost halfway down, until we find a truck loaded with fresh vegetables grown in the nearby villages, and in few minutes it got loaded with us as well. In an hour we are in the bus to Bandarawela which is a large hill country town, where we can get a bus back to Colombo.
I didn’t stop with that. I have traveled few more different trips to different places after that. But I’m yet to find an equally interesting, mesmerizing, and unforgettable, lifetime journey like i had in Haputale.

  •  You can go to haputale by train or bus, but going by train will give you the chance to see the scenic view of Srilankan highlands. Go to  to view the train schedule.
  • You can always hire a private vehicle to the Lipton seat at the Haputale bus depot for a really good fare.Or you can take bus from Haputale (town) up to Dambetenna (Tea Factory) and  walk from there, which will be around 7km to the Lipton’s seat.
  • Get the help of a professional guide or a local to go around the place, you also can ask from the tea factory for the instructions.
  • Bring enough food and water, don’t rely on the water found in the local villages, at unavoidable circumstances BOIL the water!
  • Bring umbrella or raincoat, the rain suddenly pours from nowhere!
  • Locals are very friendly and helpful, if necessary don’t hesitate to get some help from them.
  • If you want to see the complete panoramic view of the south coastal line from the Lipton’s seat, then be at the place before 7.30 AM.
  • Avoid being there after 5-6pm,as the temperature drops very rapidly, there will be so much of wind, and more than all the mist will merely hide the road from the view, which is very dangerous to the vehicles.
  •  Haputale is not only about Lipton’s seat, you can also visit St. Catherine’s Seat, another look-out point, and few waterfalls nearby.
  • Don’t forget to admire the beauty of Tea estates, activities, local villages, and the tea factory itself.