History of an old colonial house

Situated 4000 feet above sea level in the tea district of Uva, a region famous worldwide for its fragrant, delicately flavoured and aromatic tea, Viharagala Estate was established in 1861 by the British planting family of Sillery. Incorporating both Ormiston Estate and Viharagala Estate, it passed to Evan Ormiston in 1862, and thence to George Smythan Duff in 1896.

By the time the Duff Estate Company Limited purchased the property in 1897 (for the sum of £10,000), it had expanded to cover an area of well over a thousand acres. Built into the mountainside, and set among six meticulously maintained lawns, Viharagala Estate Bungalow, the estate’s spacious, 8 bedroomed plantation house, was originally built in 1876. A wide veranda that encircles the front of the house, commanding a panoramic view to the south and east of the Uda Walawe valley extending over fifty miles 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.

In 1963, Viharagala Estate was bought by Mr. K.P.A. Thangavel, and a little over ten years later, the main estate was fragmented under Sri Lanka’s Land Reform Commission in 1974. Purchased in 1996 by its present owner, elegantly furnished throughout, provided with 3-phase electricity, solar heating and a reliable year-round supply of pure and unpolluted water, the existing gardens supplemented with hundreds of trees and flowering shrubs, this magnificent property has entered a new phase of its history as a luxury tea plantation bungalow which will be rented out to guests and nature lovers.


Viharagala Estate, Nikapotha PO, via Haputale, Sri Lanka


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