12th December 1999

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Haven in the hills

Tucked amidst the tea, Devon bungalow transports you back in time

By Laila Nasry and Ruhanie Perera.

Devon: manicured lawns and stone facadeSometimes everyone needs to get away from the harsh realities of the world. For those who need peace and tranquility, the Devon bungalow offers a haven amidst the tea.

Situated on the Hatton - Nuwara-Eliya road in close proximity to Kotagala town, the bungalow cannot be missed as it sits right next to the famous Mlesna Tea Centre, which is a popular stop for holiday-makers. The bungalow is accessible even by train and is a ten minute drive from the Talawakelle station.

This bungalow was part of the original Devon Tea Estate and was built in 1923 by the British. During the post colonial era it changed hands, coming under the ownership and management of the late Minister S. Thondaman. The bungalow then served as the official residence of the Senior Superintendent and the present tea centre was his office. An earthslip that occurred sometime later, cost the estate acres of tea plantation and resulted in Devon being reduced to a comparatively small estate. The 1978/79 takeover of the plantation sector by the State Plantation Corporation saw Devon Estate being made into a division and amalgamated with the adjoining St .Clair Estate. The bungalow was then used as a chummery and accommodated the government auditors who came upcountry. Presently however it is fully privatised and is managed by Maskeliya Plantations Pvt Ltd.

Devon is the perfect holiday bungalow. It is big and spacious but still manages to retain that cosy air. Walking in, one feels like one is stepping into a quaint English country home. From the wooden floors to the lace frilled windows, it exudes an old-world charm. The Victorian style interior transports you back in time and you can almost hear the thud of the British planter's boots and the swish of his lady's skirt.

The bungalow has a sprawling living room, furnished with the most comfortable 'sink-in' sofas, complete with fireplace. There is also an extended sitting area where visitors can exult in the view. To one's right, is the St. Clair waterfall and to the left the Devon Falls. The mountain range that spreads before you is dotted with factories and houses and one can even spot the train pulling into the Talawakelle station.

The adjoining verandah which opens into the side garden too shares this view. A BBQ grill has been conveniently placed for all who wish to eat under the stars. For the less adventurous there is a large dining room that seats 10 people, which overlooks the front lawn. The bungalow can host a large party the maximum being ten, for it has five large, well furnished bedrooms and five toilets.

Every room has been provided with a heater and the toilets have both hot and cold water. Linen, crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, gas cooker , refrigerator and deep freezer have been provided and all that needs to be brought along (besides oneself) are the provisions. There is an expert cook on hand too.

The rates for the bungalow is Rs. 4000/- a day for week-ends and 2500/- per day for weekdays. The bungalow could be booked through Maskeliya Plantations at 320/1 Union Place Colombo- 2. Contact A.D.G William on 339225, 300695-6.

Win a great weekend

Maskeliya Plantations are now offering The Sunday Times readers a chance to experience the old world charm of Devon bungalow . You can win a super weekend by simply answering the question on the coupon and mailing it into: The Devon bungalow Quiz, c/o The Features Editor, The Sunday Times, P.O Box 1136, Colombo. Entries should reach us before December 22 and the winner will be announced on December 26.

So rush those entries in and who knows you may be off for a cool but cosy vacation, with your family and friends.

The winner is entitled to a weekend at Devon bungalow which can accommodate upto ten persons.

Q: Name the two waterfalls that are located close to the bungalow?




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