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Tea Growing Regions

The tea-growing regions of Sri Lanka are clustered mostly among the mountains of the island’s central massif and its southern foothils. Once thickly forested and largely inaccessible to humans, the central mountains were known to the ancient Sinhalese as Mayarata, the Country of Illusions.

 

Tea-Growing Regions

The tea-growing regions of Sri Lanka are clustered mostly among the mountains of the island’s central massif and its southern foothils. Once thickly forested and largely inaccessible to humans, the central mountains were known to the ancient Sinhalese as Mayarata, the Country of Illusions. It was said to be haunted by demons and spirits. This fearsome reputation, together with more tangible threats posed by wild beasts, venomous snakes, landslides, rockfalls and the ever-present danger of simply losing one’s way in the forest, kept most people away from the high hills. Settlement was almost nonexistent except in the valleys and around the city of Kandy. Only foresters, hermits and fugitives had any reason to enter the Mayarata.
Thus it was that after the annexation of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815, the British found themselves in possession of vast tracts of virgin montaine forest. Imperial enterprise soon found a way of putting the acquisition to good use. By 1840, there were already about two hundred coffee-estates dotted about the hills; then came a boom in coffee on the London market, fuelling a land-rush. Down came the high forests, acre after acre, to be replaced by endless, regimented rows of coffee-bushes. At the peak of the coffee enterprise in 1878, no less than 113,000 ha. (278,000 acres) were under cultivation.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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