Bandarawela, Sri Lanka
Bandarawela is the second largest town in Badulla District which is 28 km away from Badulla city. Due to a higher altitude, Bandarawela has a cooler climate throughout the year. Bandarawela is 210 km away from Colombo and about 150 km away from Kandy, Colombo and Kandy being two major cities in Sri Lanka. Both roads and railway transportation are available to reach the area. 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 city 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 evidences can be seen there belongs to that colonial period. There is few buildings remaining which were 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 India under British colonial times. Those Tamil community had been got their full citizenship during the UNP Government period in 1978 to 1988 by Affidavit Act no 39 of 1988. The records of the other ethnic groups in this area are negligible.
Bandarawela famous as having been 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.
The town is ruled by an urban council headed by a mayor. The council is elected by popular vote and has 9 seats. There were 4,147 registered voters in the 2006 local authorities elections. The urban council has been governed by the United National Party one of the largest political parties in Sri Lanka.
Out side the urban area is governed by the "Pradeshiya" saba which is also similar to the urban council. The pradeshiya saba is elected by popular vote as well and it has 10 seats. In the 2006 local authorities election, 37,972 voters were registered for the election.
The main heritage sites in and around Bandarawela are ancient Dhowa Buddhist rock temple, the Roman Catholic Church- St. Anthony's Church and Methodist church. Ancient dhowa rock temple was founded by the King Walagamba in the first century BC which is located 6 km away from the Bandarawela city. It has a 38 ft 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 1300 m, the annual average rainfall is between 1100 and 1400 mm and the monthly average temperature are between 15 °C (in February) 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 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.
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 to improve the education background of the people in Bandarawela. It consists of many popular schools in the Badulla district with better facilities for primary and secondary education. Some of schools in the area include Bandarawela Central college, Visakha Vidyalaya, Little Flower Convent and St. Joseph college Bandarawela. These schools are governed by the central government of Sri Lanka. There are also two private schools which are popular in island wide. They are S. Thomas' College Bandarawela and S. Thomas' College,Guruthalawa.