Up here, in the hills rolling down into Bogawantalawa Valley, where each plantation spawns a factory and every factory breeds a village, you gain a glimpse of old Ceylon: gracious and quiet, industrious and efficient. Steep fields of green dotted with sari-wearing women plucking the tea leaves that will go on to become the daily ritual of millions the world over. At the heart of the valley is Castlereagh Lake, home to four elegant bungalows known as the Ceylon Tea Trails. The historical bungalows, built early last century to house the plantation managers, hark back to an elegant era of endless gin and tonics and thoughtful contemplation; deep baths drawn by the house butlers; four-poster beds with mosquito nets; manicured gardens just begging you to take a turn. Particularly charismatic is the Castlereagh Bungalow, where the mood is country-house-party meets colonial outpost, and the staff are only too happy to bring you a pot of tea in bed or set up a croquet game on the lawns.
Those revived by some rest, relaxation and endless cuppas might feel ready to brave the nearby holy mountain of Adam’s Peak. Its rocky summit is thought to resemble a footprint, which, depending on your religious persuasion, belongs to either Buddha, Shiva, Adam or Saint Thomas the Apostle. But irrespective of your ideology, making the ascent for sunrise is an energetic Sri Lankan essential, if only to hear the bells chime out across a silent pre-dawn valley. Read More: HarpersBazaarJan-Feb2012travel_srilanka