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Don Diogu

Wellawaya

Overview

This 1870's ancestral home of  Mervyn and Doris Wijesinghe is named after his Grandfather, and Wellawaya is steeped in 16th century Portuguese history. 

 

The surrounding 300 acres now supporting paddy and coconut plantations were once a  battle-ground to hundreds of soldiers fighting for the Kandyan King.  The Portuguese Governor Dom Constantine De Saa marched to Badulla with an army of 7,000, destroying centuries-old Buddhist temples and villages.  The forces of the Kandyan Maha Asthana Prince (crown Prince) retaliated, forcing the Portugese to retreat and suffer death by sword.  De Saa and the Portuguese army were decimated at this battleground.

 

Many village names stem from translations of "soldiers camp-out", "dead bodies in paddy fields", and serve as historic monuments in the district.  Wellawaya is steeped in history dating back to the 3rd century BC.

 

Having retired from Colombo, the Wijesinghes have returned to Sri Lanka's largest province of UVA and now host guests interested in exploring the Hill Country and enjoying a taste of  Sri Lankan life.  This is a working plantation of two of the most commercially viable products in Sri Lanka - Rice paddy and Coconut, and home to many fruits and spices.  The wild gardens of pepper, jack and breadfruit, mahogany, teak, olives, oranges (to name a few), lead down to a private rocky river. There are huge beautiful Kumbuk  trees on the river banks and rocks in the middle of the river on which to sit and cool your toes.

 

Enjoy spring-water swimming or boat down-stream admiring the vibrant bird life.  Watch- huts and benches lie next to the river and 58 species of bird have been identified, including Kingfishers, Barbets and the Ceylon Flycatcher.  Explore the Poonagala Mountain Range and the surrounding jungle by foot or mountain bikes.  You'll meet wild elephants, elk and wild boar enroute.  Waterfalls cascade all around and frequently provide excellent dipping pools.

 

Mervyn can fill in the "gaps' whilst Doris and her loyal cooks prepare traditional Sri Lankan meals in the original stone kitchen.

 

Real Sri Lankan living, history and active expeditions fill your days, but that is not all.  In the evening  you can recline in easy chairs on the spacious roof terrace and enjoy a night sky unpolluted by city lights.  Ideal for families, retired couples and birdies who don't want chintz but wish to see a bit of the "real Sri lanka"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Highs
 

Lows

  • Mountain biking in exciting terrain and cooling off with the locals in natural spring waterfalls.
     
  • Pittu, coconut and sugar breakfasts
  • Bijou and old colonial bathrooms with noWestern luxuries
     
  • Simple bedrooms but enchanting environment

 GALLERY

     

   Child Friendly
   Groups Welcomed
   Bird Watching

Rooms

The large bungalow is planned around an open courtyard and contemplation pool.  Simply and sparsely furnished with 70's furniture and colonial antiques, it features hunting memorabilia on the walls as in a country retreat.  The open sitting room is rather formal  so guests may prefer to relax on the garden benches.

 

Away from the family living area, there are five large and simple bedrooms, with king-size beds, two of which accommodate a further single bed.  The beds have the traditional, rather thin Sri Lankan mattresses which are sometimes rather hard to European tastes.

 

The rooms are very basic with old furnishings of the home. Pretty bed linen, flowers and gothic style lights soften the look and each room has its own character, but the frosted windows screen out views of the garden.  Equipped with simple storage/hanging space, mosquito nets and fans.

Each bedroom has its own en suite bathroom, three of them with solar heated hot water showers.

 Two chalets have been added recently which face the Kirindi Oya (river). They are built in the style of village houses with mud walls and thatched roofs, and have triple beds, en suite bathrooms, large verandahs and solar lighting. Perfect for watching the river birdlife.

 

  

The silence is restful and only the birds will awake you each morning.

 

 

     
     
     

Dining

The dining room is quite casual and the Wijesinghes try to fit meal times around guests' plans.

 

The large table will accommodate up to 20 when the bungalow is full.  Sri Lankan menus dominate but flavours are varied.  Western and Chinese dishes are also served for long stayers.

 

I enjoyed pumpkin soup followed by rice and curry.  The meat and fish quality is not so reliable in the mid country.  However, wild boar sometimes makes it to the table and is rich and tender.

 

Lunch time meals are usually more rice and curry for the family but lighter snacks of sandwiches or a packed lunch can be prepared.

 

Breakfast began with a herbal porridge which has nutritional value and detoxifying properties - definitely an acquired taste!  Fruit, curries and pittu were served up.  I followed tradition and sprinkled brown sugar and coconut milk over my pittu (steamed rice), which was surprisingly delicious.


Guests are accepted on a half or full board basis as there are no restaurants within easy distance.

 

Wines and spirits are stocked up regularly and offered at a reasonable price.

 

     

Things to do & local tips

  • Mervyn or a local guide will take you on an  historic or adventurous trail. For the fit and eager there are exciting and arduous mountain trailswaiting to be explored.
     
  • Adventurists and climbers will aspire to climbing to the Poonagala  summit, Millenium Point and  Pilkington Point from where you have a panoramic view of the plains stretching from the south west to the south east and the glistening waterfalls.
     
  • Ella Adventure Park offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from rock climbing to para-gliding.  Don Diogu property has one of the landing pads for gliders.  The Ella Waterfall is the reward at the end of a 4km walk from the villa, through jungle footpaths. 
  • Adult & child mountain bikes are available for a nominal charge ($5/each for 6 hours).
     
  • Birdwatchers are advised to bring their own binoculars.
     
  • Uda Walawe National Park (45 minutes away) is a haven for bird life and elephants.  Yala National Park is one and a half hours away.
     
  • Rawana Falls in Ella and the surrounding caves are awe-inspiring, especially after the monsoons in October and May.
     
  • Admire the original and unique style of Buduruwagala Rock Carvings, the tallest in Asia after the Bahmien Statues in Afghanistan were destroyed.
     
  • Evening or morning paddles in the private river are calm and serene.  Beware of mosquitoes.
     
  • The Poonagala herd of wild elephants is now resident around the abandoned and remote Galbokka village, about 6km from Don Diogu, an unusual case of victory of nature over man.  The initial 4kms can be covered by 4 wheel drive then a walk for another km to the observation point.  

 

 

 

For recommendations on places of interest, activities and local transport in the UVA Province, click here.