Bandarawela is a big town, situated in Badulla District, Uva Province, Sri Lanka, which is 28 km away from Badulla. Due to higher altitude, Bandarawela has a mild weather condition throughout the year hence, it is popular among the citizens to spend the vacations with their family members. Bandarawela is 200 km away from Colombo and about 125 km away from Kandy, Colombo and Kandy being two capital cities in Sri Lanka. Both roads and railway transportation facilities are available to reach the area within a few hours. Bandarawela town, tinted with a colonial past resting among lush forestation has found its niche among its visitors as a base for eco-tourism.
History of the Bandarawela area is coming from the time of great Sinhalese King Valagamba who fell back and regrouped in the Dhowa region to fight against Chola invaders.
During the period of British colonial era, the town occurred rapid development of the infrastructures and human resources due to tea plantations and migration of the British and local people to the area. A lot of past evidence belongs to that period. Buildings remaining built in the British colonial period with British architectural influences such as the Bandarawela Hotel, the Cargilles building, the Tennis club, etc.
Bandarawela is one of the Sinhalese majority territories in Sri Lanka before the establishment of tea plantations under British administration. Nowadays there is a mix culture due to the migration of Tamils to the tea plantation sector as laborers from Indiaunder British colonial times. This Tamil communityhve been granted full citizenship during the UNP Government period in 1978 to 1988. The records of the other ethnic groups in this area include Boers from Persia, Chinese families and Malayalies.
Bandarawela is famous as the camp in Ceylon of the Boer prisoners of war and some of the buildings erected for the temporary accommodation of the captives are now used in connection with the permanent camp health recuperation established here for the Navy, military and volunteers.
Ancient Dhowa Buddhist rock temple is one of the well known heritage sites in this region and the Roman Catholic Church, St. Anthony's Church and Methodist church are some other historic places to visit. Ancient dhowa rock temple was founded by King Walagamba in the first century BC and is located beside Badulla- Bandarawela high way, 6 km away from Bandarawela city. It has a 38 ft (12 m) Buddha image sculptured from a rock and some paintings belonging to the Kandyan era, depicting various Jataka stories.
Geography and Climate
During colonial times, the picturesque town of Bandarawela was once hailed as possessing one of the healthiest climates in the world, & nothing much has happened here to change that. Therein this was the most favourable climate in the island. Geographically, the Bandarawela area is hilly and surrounded by the large number of mountains in Uva and Central Province.
According to the local climatic zone classifications, Bandarawela is classified under Up Country Intermediate Zone (UCIZ) which is spread over the Badulla and Moneragala Districts.
The elevation above the sea level at Bandarawela is 4000 ft, the annual average rainfall is between 1100 and 1400 mm and the monthly average temperature are between 12 °C (in December) and 27 °C (in May and June). The Bandarawela area consists mainly at Red Yellow Podzolic soil which is strongly acidic and favorable for the tea plantation.
Bandarawela is a Sinhala majority town, there are sizeable communities belonging to other ethnic groups, such as Indian Tamils, Sri Lanka Moors and Sri Lanka Tamils.
Bandarawela area has multi religious population. Buddhism and Hinduism constitute majority of the religious faith. There is also a minority of Islams and Catholics. Pushparama Buddhist temple, Sri Sivasubramania Swamy Kovil and Masjid Mohideen Muslim mosque are the main religious places situated in and around Bandarawela Urban area. There is also three catholic churches which has long historical background with colonial periods situated very close to the city.
The main livelihood of the people living in this area is agriculture farming and tea plantation. Majority of the people are directly involved in vegetable cultivation and some are working as laborers in tea estates. There are large number of tea plantations which are managed by both private and government sectors and produce good quality tea for the world tea market.
Although vegetable gardens also used to be a common sight around the town. A lot of temperate vegetables are grown in this area throughout the year such as leek, carrot, beet root, cauliflower, cabbage and more. About one tenth of the population works for government, private establishments and run their own businesses. So the majority of the people in this area fall in the low and middle income groups.
Tourism is another income generation way in the Bandarawela area. Many of holiday resorts, cottages and hotels can be found in this area with better facilities.
During World War II, many families moved to Bandarawela as leading schools in Colombo such as Royal College, St. Thomas' College and Visakha Vidyalaya, completely shifted to Bandarawela due to the fear caused by the Japanese bombs. This caused an improvement in the education of the people in Bandarawela.