Maskelia – the breath of the fresh wind of Sri Lanka
Not many people know the name of the small Sri Lankan town of Maskelia, but every year thousands of tourists pass through it on their way from Hutton to Adam’s Peak. The peak of Adam is a mountain with a height of 2,223 meters above sea level, which the four main religions of Sri Lanka recognize as sacred. The season of climbing the mountain, when visibility is the best, and the breathtaking sunset is visible from the top of the mountain in all its glory, lasts from December to April. However, at any other time of the year Maskelia also attracts with its interweaving of ancient and modern cultures.
A reminder of the colonial past and the plantation owners who lived on this land is the Warleigh Church built by them, gazing from high on the incredibly beautiful Lake Castlereagh. The church, built of massive granite blocks in 1878, adjoins a cemetery, in which many planters rest and never returned to their homeland in England. As a rule, the church is closed to visitors, and the guard unlocks it upon request, but every first and third Sunday of the month a service is held in English. Looking inside you can get an idea of how seriously planters who laid down their lives on the development of the tea industry, belonged to their religious traditions. The church has a real organ, dusty, but no less valuable stained-glass windows, preserved from the 19th century, the Bible of 1879 and wooden benches battered by time. On the bulletin board hangs a list of 15 parishioners still attending this church.
Sri LankaMaskelia’s close connection with tea growing is immediately noticeable – the hills are densely planted with tea bushes in the neighborhood. Tea pickers in bright capes gently collect leaves, which are then sent to one of the nearest processing factories. The road to Maskeliya goes along Castlereagh Lake, and you can catch the brilliance of its water through bamboo thickets and massive eucalyptus tree trunks. Sometimes on the side of the road you can see milk cans left by residents for farmers to fill them with fresh milk. At the entrance to the city you will see the public library and the branch of the Bank of Ceylon. This combination is consistent with the spirit of this town.
Maskelia is also interesting with its old shops. They can buy fish caught in the same morning, fried with spices according to traditional recipes, and warm and crispy lentil cookies. Here, too, warehouses, workshops, pawnshops, haberdashery shops, and greengrocers shops. The tall and bright boxes of houses on Main Street would fit perfectly into the picture in the style of cubism – they stand out like bright, messy brushstrokes against the background of dark greenery among silver waterfalls shrouded in mist.
Visiting Maskeliya, you will see how the past and present can harmoniously exist together. At any time of the year, a visit to Miskeliya will give you pleasure: the shopkeepers, eager for talk, greet visitors with special joy, the air from the green hills is clean and fresh, and the view of the tea valleys, forests, the glow of the lake in the distance and the majestic silhouette of Adam’s Peak will delight your gaze.