Hatton is a charming Town in central Sri Lanka that offers a range of experiences for travelers. Primarily known for its tea plantations, the town has much more to explore. With its scenic landscapes, history, and culture, Hatton is not just a single-experience destination but a place that caters to various interests. Join us as we explore this charming highland town and take a closer look at all that it has to offer.
History and Significance of Hatton
Hatton was founded during the 19th century, in the era of British colonial rule in Sri Lanka. The town gained prominence primarily due to its ideal conditions for tea cultivation. British planters identified the region's potential and established large tea estates. This period was transformative for Hatton, as it evolved from a modest settlement into a crucial hub for the burgeoning tea industry.
During this time, infrastructure such as roads and railways were also developed to facilitate the transportation of tea to ports for export. The town became an essential part of the Ceylon Tea story, with its tea gaining international recognition for quality. Many of the tea estates operating today in and around Hatton can trace their origins back to these early plantations established by British entrepreneurs.
Another important aspect of Hatton’s history is its role as a gateway to Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada. This mountain is a revered site for Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims alike. For centuries, pilgrims have passed through Hatton to undertake the journey to the summit of Adam's Peak. This pilgrimage activity has further contributed to Hatton's significance, making a point of cultural and spiritual convergence.
The blend of historical influences, ranging from colonial economic ventures to ancient pilgrimage routes, makes Hatton a location of great significance. The town serves as a living reminder of Sri Lanka's complex past, where traditions of trade, agriculture, and spirituality have intersected and evolved over time.
The economy of Hatton is predominantly driven by its tea industry, which forms the cornerstone of the town's financial stability and growth. It is not just the tea estates and factories that contribute to the economy, but also a wide range of associated activities like packaging, transportation, and marketing of tea. These ancillary businesses offer employment opportunities and sustain the local economy.
In addition to tea, Hatton serves as a trading and collection center for other agricultural commodities produced in the region. Vegetables such as carrots, leeks, and cabbages are commonly grown in the surrounding areas and brought to Hatton for distribution. The town's markets also feature a range of tropical fruits, including papayas, bananas, and mangoes. The agricultural trading further adds a layer of economic complexity to the town.
Another important economic driver is tourism. Hatton's location makes it an ideal starting point for various trekking and hiking activities, most notably the journey to Adam's Peak. The tourism sector has seen a steady increase in recent years, with local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and tour operators benefiting from this trend.
Moreover, Hatton's strategic location as a transportation hub adds to its economic significance. The town lies on the main road connecting Colombo to the central and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The railway station in Hatton is also an important stop for trains going to other scenic towns like Nuwara Eliya and Ella. This connectivity further boosts Hatton's role as a commercial and transit point, not just for people but also for goods and services.
Attractions and Things to Do
Adam's Peak, or Sri Pada, is more than just a mountain. For many, it's a spiritual journey, as this peak is significant to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike. The trail leading to the summit is well-maintained and lit, especially during the pilgrimage season from December to May. Starting your hike at night is common, allowing you to reach the top in time to witness an unforgettable sunrise. Along the trail, you will find small shops offering refreshments and resting spots, making the climb manageable even for less experienced hikers.
Tea Plantations and Factory Visits
Hatton is synonymous with tea production, and a visit to the tea plantations here is a must. Many estates offer guided tours where you'll learn the entire tea-making process, from leaf plucking to packaging. Some tours are hands-on, giving you a chance to pick tea leaves yourself, guided by skilled workers. Your experience usually includes a factory visit, where you can see the transformation of fresh leaves into the finished product of Ceylon tea. It's an educational and enlightening experience that also provides photo opportunities amid rows of tea plants.
Devon Falls is one of Sri Lanka's most beautiful waterfalls, plunging down from a height of 97 meters. It can be viewed from a special observation point located along the main road. The falls provide a majestic backdrop for photographs, and the surrounding area is suitable for a picnic. The roar of the falls and the misty air create an invigorating atmosphere.
St. Clair's Falls
Known as the "Little Niagara of Sri Lanka," St. Clair's Falls consists of two separate falls and is 80 meters in height. The falls are located in a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and valleys. Like Devon Falls, St. Clair's also has a designated viewing area. The waterfall is a popular spot for picnicking and taking photos, and its majestic beauty captures the essence of Sri Lanka's natural wonders.
Hatton is home to a mix of ethnic groups, including Sinhalese, Tamils, and Moors. The culture is a blend of traditions primarily influenced by the tea plantation community. Temples, churches, and mosques can be found in and around the town.
Hatton is not a major shopping destination, but it has basic amenities. You can buy Ceylon tea from local stores. The town also has small shops selling handicrafts and textiles.
Hatton offers a range of accommodation options. There are budget guesthouses for those looking for a basic stay. For a more luxurious experience, some tea estates offer boutique bungalows.
Food and Dining
The food in Hatton reflects its cultural diversity. You can find traditional Sri Lankan food as well as Indian and Western cuisines. Local eateries and street vendors offer dishes like rice and curry, hoppers, and string hoppers. High-end restaurants can be found in the larger hotels and resorts.
Location and How to Get There
Hatton is approximately 132 km from Colombo. The most convenient way to reach Hatton is by train. Buses and taxis are also available but may take longer due to road conditions. The train journey offers scenic views and takes about 4 hours. You can also choose to go in a personal vehicle or a rental. This will also take about 4 hours.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Hatton is from December to April. This period experiences less rainfall and is ideal for outdoor activities. If you plan to hike Adam's Peak, the pilgrimage season from December to May is recommended.
Tips and Advice
- Transportation: Public buses and tuk-tuks are the most common forms of transport. Negotiate fares beforehand to avoid overcharging with tuk-tuks.
- Weather Preparedness: The weather can be quite variable. Carry an umbrella or raincoat if you're visiting during the monsoon season, and sunblock for sunny days.
- Footwear for Trekking: If you plan to climb Adam's Peak or explore the tea plantations, invest in good-quality trekking shoes for better grip and comfort.
- Tea Plantation Visits: If you're planning to visit a tea plantation, confirm tour availability in advance and be aware that some may require a small entrance fee.
- Food and Water: Stick to bottled or boiled water to avoid any health issues. If you want to try street food, go for vendors that look clean and are popular with locals.
- Currency: While some places accept credit cards, having cash on hand is essential for small vendors and public transportation.
- Language Barrier: English is not widely spoken by everyone. Basic Sinhala phrases could be useful, and a translation app might come in handy.
- Medical Supplies: Although Hatton has pharmacies, it's a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit and any prescribed medications.
- Nuwara Eliya: Just an hour's drive from Hatton, Nuwara Eliya is known as "Little England" due to its cool climate and colonial architecture. It's a great place for scenic walks, boating in Lake Gregory, and enjoying high tea at one of its historic hotels.
- Kandy: About two hours away by car, Kandy, Sri Lanka's second-largest city, is renowned for the Temple of the Tooth Relic and its scenic lake. The city also offers cultural shows, shopping for handicrafts, and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya.
- Ella: Known for its scenic beauty and cooler climate, Ella is approximately three hours from Hatton. The area is popular for hiking, with trails leading to Ella Rock and Little Adam's Peak, both offering stunning views.
- Ambewela Farms: Located around an hour from Hatton, Ambewela Farms is often referred to as "Sri Lanka's New Zealand." The farm also offers tours where you can learn about dairy farming and even pet the animals.
- Horton Plains National Park: About a two-hour drive from Hatton, this national park is famous for its high-altitude grasslands, rich biodiversity, and the viewpoint known as World’s End. It's an ideal spot for nature lovers interested in hiking and bird-watching.
Hatton is a town that offers more than just scenic beauty. Its rich history, cultural diversity, and numerous attractions make it a rewarding destination. From tea plantations to natural wonders and spiritual experiences, Hatton caters to a variety of travel interests. Whether you are in search of adventure, eager to delve into history, or simply wish to unwind, Hatton is a place not to be missed.