Beragala and its surrounding areas, though not a traditional tourist destination, are emerging as tourist attractions. With little-known nature and adventure sites off the beaten track such as Lipton Seat, Pilkington Point, Tholangamuwa Forest Reserve and Kiriwanaganga waterfall to be explored, these areas are slowly coming into the picture.
An ideal point from which to mount these excursions is the newly renovated Viharagala colonial bungalow in Viharagala Estate off Beragala in Haputale, a five-hour drive from Colombo.
This century-old planter’s bungalow originally built in 1876, nestles in a 12-acre tea estate, some 3500 feet above sea level, overlooking the southern plains from the top of the Haputale range. Seclusion, tranquillity and the feeling of space are what one enjoys while staying here.
Built into the mountain-side, and set among six meticulously maintained lawns, the spacious Viharagala Estate Bungalow has five large bedrooms. The wide verandah that encircles the front of the house, commanding a panoramic view to the south and east of the Udawalawe valley extending over 60 km to the sea, was added in 1911. The present dining room and service pantry were further additions made in 1948 to render the house more functional without destroying its period character.
The same aim has inspired all later renovations: for example, the original fireplaces have been retained, and the original staff quarters still function today, linked to the main house by a covered stairway running along one side of a paved courtyard filled with flowers.
Visitors are encouraged to reserve the whole bungalow which is available at Rs. 30,000 a day. A well appointed kitchen and pantry is at the guests’ disposal and there is a staff of four to look into their needs.
The ‘Pemberley Study Centre’, which was maintained until recently as an education centre for students by Dr. Brendon Gooneratne and his wife Yasmin, has now been renovated and turned into a new unit close to the colonial building.
‘Pemberley’ has seven bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a vast dining room, a well-equipped pantry with a micro-wave oven and a washing machine among other amenities and could be rented for Rs. 25,000 per day.
“If you need, you can rent single rooms as well in the old bungalow or the new unit. The rate is 150 US $ on BB basis. But we always encourage travellers to go for the whole bungalow,” said Viharagala’s caretaker/ manager.
Here too the staff is well trained in the culinary arts, and visitors can enjoy a choice of western, Indian or traditional Sri Lankan food cooked with fresh vegetables. There’s also a ‘Jungle Bar- b- que’ in the small forest patch close to the bungalow which has proved very popular.
The cost per meal ranges from Rs 500 to 750 per head from breakfast to dinner.
Other attractions one can visit from the Viharagala bungalow include the centuries- old Soragune devale, Buduruwagala, the Bambarakande, Diyaluma and Rawana water falls, Adisham and Uda Walawe Park.
“We arrange excursions on request. Arugam Bay, Yala and Kataragama are just three hours away while the panoramic Horton Plains and World’s End are close by. The bungalow is also a honeymooners’ paradise with many surprises and free offers on different themes available to them,” the manager said.
For reservations and more details contact 0115522860 or 0727284171 or log onto firstname.lastname@example.org