Situated about 12 kms from the Grand Hotel, the Hakgala Botanical Gardens was established in 1861 for the purpose of experimentation and promotion of Cinchona cultivation in Sri Lanka. Today it stands as a fine masterpiece of natural landscape with many features providing educational opportunities, especially on hill country landscape gardening, floriculture and montane flora.
The garden consists of 28 ha and lies at an elevation of about 1745 meters above sea level, in several terraces upon the lower slopes of the Hakgala Rock (elephants jaw rock), covered by the Hakgala strict nature reserve in the Nuwara Eliya district. The massive Hakgala rock towers to a height of about 2200 m behind the gardens and surrounding the forest reserve like a solitary giant.
The best time to visit the garden is during the month of April when it is the festive season in Nuwara Eliya trailing off to August when the gardens put up their best display of temperate annual flowers, Roses and Foliage. Although not many flowers are seen during October to December one can enjoy the serenity of subtropical mist covered woodland flora with other vegetation. The flora of the garden is specifically subtropical and consists of indigenous montane vegetation intermingled with introduced subtropical flora from various countries and includes about 1000 plant species. The Gardens is situated on the Kandy Chenkaladi Main Road and is opened from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily.