Adisham Bungalow is one of the most famous attractions in Sri Lanka's central highlands. As a well-preserved country house built in the style of Tudor and Jacobean architecture, it offers visitors a glimpse into a bygone era. With its historical significance, striking architectural details, and beautifully landscaped gardens, this site has become a must-visit for tourists and history enthusiasts alike.
Adisham Bungalow is located near the town of Haputale, in the Badulla District of Sri Lanka's Uva Province. The bungalow enjoys a relatively cool climate due to its elevation of approximately 1,500 meters above sea level. The area provides a breathtaking view of Sri Lanka's central highlands, creating a backdrop that beautifully complements the building's own architectural beauty.
Adisham Bungalow has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. It was built in 1931 by Sir Thomas Villiers, a British planter who was a significant figure in Sri Lanka during its colonial period. Sir Thomas Villiers was not only a tea planter but also a philanthropist who contributed to the local community. After his time, the bungalow was eventually handed over to the Sylvestro-Benedictine monks and converted into a monastery known as St. Benedict's Monastery. The monks have maintained the property and its gardens while also offering religious services and educational programs. The bungalow itself has been largely preserved in its original state, allowing visitors to experience the historic charm that has been retained over the decades.
Adisham Bungalow is a true marvel when it comes to architecture. Its design combines elements of Tudor and Jacobean styles, creating a striking visual impression. The structure is primarily built of stone, which was sourced locally, and wood. The roof is made of imported slate, adding another layer of authenticity to the building's colonial-era aesthetics. Among the most eye-catching features are the intricate carvings that decorate the wooden panels and stonework. Elaborate fireplaces can be found in most rooms, each with its own unique design. The stained glass windows add a touch of elegance, and the tall chimney stacks are not just functional but serve as architectural accents that punctuate the skyline.
The gardens at Adisham Bungalow offer an equally captivating experience. Covering several acres, the outdoor space has been thoughtfully designed in a terraced layout that complements the area's natural landscapes. This makes for an interesting walk as you explore the different levels and areas of the garden. The garden boasts a mix of indigenous and exotic plants, including flowering shrubs, medicinal herbs, and many fruit trees, such as apples, plums, and peaches. Visitors can often be seen leisurely strolling through the paths, taking in the vibrant colors and sweet fragrances that fill the air. It's also a popular spot for bird watchers, as the garden is home to various species of local birds.
Inside the Bungalow
The interior of Adisham Bungalow is as fascinating as its exterior. Each room has been maintained to reflect its original character, filled with period-appropriate furnishings that include antique tables, elaborate chairs, and four-poster beds. Notable among these rooms is the library, which houses a collection of historical books, rare manuscripts, and even antique globes and maps. There's also a music room complete with an antique piano that adds to the nostalgic atmosphere. The chapel is another highlight and remains an active space for prayer and meditation. It features a wooden altar and rows of wooden benches, all lit by the gentle light filtering through the stained glass windows.
Visiting Hours and Entry Fees
The bungalow is open to visitors, mainly during the weekends and public holidays. The visiting hours are generally from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entry fees vary based on age and nationality, with different rates for local and foreign visitors. It's advisable to check the latest information before planning your visit, as hours and fees are subject to change.
How to Get There
Reaching Adisham Bungalow is easy and straightforward. The bungalow is situated about 5 kilometers from the town of Haputale. If you prefer public transportation, buses run regularly from Haputale, dropping passengers close to the bungalow. Alternatively, taxis and tuk-tuks can be hired for a more personalized journey. These options offer flexibility and can be easily arranged through local transport services or hotels in Haputale.
For visitors who choose to drive, the roads leading to Adisham Bungalow are well-maintained, ensuring a smooth ride. Once you arrive, you'll find ample parking spaces available near the property, making it convenient for those traveling with their own vehicles.
Tips for Visitors
- Advance Booking and Local Holidays: The bungalow tends to attract visitors, especially during weekends and public holidays. It's a good idea to book your visit in advance and also check if any Sri Lankan public holidays or religious days might affect the bungalow's operating hours.
- Arrive Early: The early morning is less crowded and offers better natural lighting for photography. Consider arriving right when the bungalow opens to maximize your experience.
- Cash Essentials: While some services may accept cards, it's prudent to carry enough cash for entry fees, snacks, and other possible expenses during your visit.
- Weather Preparations: The climate at the bungalow can be chilly and misty, especially in the mornings and evenings. Carrying a light sweater or jacket is recommended.
- Travel Essentials: Given the rural setting of the bungalow, it's a good idea to carry basic first-aid supplies, bottled water, and some snacks for your comfort and convenience.
- Monastery Etiquette: The bungalow is also a functioning monastery, and certain areas may require specific behavior, such as silence or removal of footwear. Always observe signs and follow any instructions given by monks or staff.
Haputale: The Haputale town itself is an attraction, offering a combination of natural beauty and cultural experiences. The town is known for its dramatic landscapes, which include rolling hills covered in tea plantations and stunning mountain ranges.
Diyaluma Falls: With a height of 220 meters, this majestic waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in the island. Located approximately 35 kilometers from Haputale, the waterfall is a spectacular sight to behold.
Lipton's Seat: Lipton's Seat is one of the most popular viewpoints in the country and is located at the top of Poonagala Hill near Haputale. Visitors to Lipton's Seat are rewarded with mesmerizing views of Sri Lanka's Central Highlands.
Dambatenna Tea Factory: Located near Lipton's seat, the Dambatenna Tea Factory is one of the oldest tea production facilities in Sri Lanka. The factory offers guided tours that detail the journey of tea leaves from the plantation to your cup. This historical factory also features a tea lounge where visitors can sample and buy a wide range of teas.
Adisham Bungalow stands as an exceptional example of historical architecture and offers an enriching experience with its gardens, interiors, and surrounding natural beauty. Its serene atmosphere also makes it a perfect spot for those looking to escape the everyday routine and delve into a tranquil, scenic setting. By providing both historical and natural experiences, Adisham Bungalow unquestionably earns its place on any Sri Lankan travel itinerary.