The panoramic Seat that built a flourishing Empire

by Indika Weerasinghe
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They say that high elevations help to create great ideas seemingly at high vantage points. Lipton Seat proves that point beyond doubt. Thomas Lipton the great Scottish Baron of the late 19th Century came to Sri Lanka (then famously known as Ceylon) and with his already flourishing entrepreneurial skills, planned his strategy to build a Tea Empire based at Ceylon. The produce was exported worldwide even reaching the US as early as the turn of the 20th Century. Lipton was a self-made man with very humble beginnings who had crawled his way to success.

The pioneer of Ceylon Tea, however, is James Taylor who built his first tea estate in 1867, just at the outskirts of the hill capital Kandy. Taylor may not have had the infrastructure nor the entrepreneurial skills that Lipton possessed, so it was a very vital alliance that the two of them built just at the end of the 19th Century, to give a boost to this industry and ensure Ceylon Tea reached the furthest corners of the world.

Thomas Lipton started his first estate at Dambetenna where this majestic seat is located. Dambetenna is at the southern end of the tea country of Sri Lanka as opposed to Taylor’s first estate Loolecondera which is at the northern end (close to Kandy).

The epic view from Lipton Seat

Lipton’s Seat is a high observation point in the hills of Poonagala. This seat is where Thomas Lipton used the panorama of this vantage point to survey and plan out his plantations and thereby build his empire in a time long gone but not forgotten. A panoramic 360 degree view of the surrounding hills and valleys with sights such as Handapanagala Lake, Chandrika Lake, Udawalawe Lake, Wedihitikanda Mountains, and on a clearer day even the Hambanthota harbor from the Southern coast. When it is clear, one could observe 5 of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka and for this very reason Thomas Lipton chose this location as a survey point to construct his Tea empire and built his first Tea factory at Dambatenne just below the seat

Lipton’s Seat is a high vantage point in the hills of Poonagala. The Dambatenne Tea Factory is located at the foot of the hill. Lipton used the seat to survey his empire in a time long gone but not forgotten.

 
A panoramic 360 degree view of the surrounding hills and valleys with sights such as Handapanagala Lake, Chandrika Lake, Udawalawe Lake, Wedihitikanda Mountains, and even the Hambanthota harbor from the Southern coast which can be seen on a clear day. 5 of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka are visible from this location and for this very reason Lipton chose this location as a survey point to construct his Tea empire and built his first Tea factory at Dambatenne just below the seat.  

 

How to get to Lipton Seat

Getting to Lipton seat is a thrilling adventure and whoever wants to motor up to the top from the Dambatenna Tea factory route (if you are arriving from the Haputale side), must bear in mind that the road sometimes is limited to single traffic. The more adventurous visitors could hire a tuk-tuk from the Dambetenna factory environs and drive up to the top and take in the epic views and linger at the top close to an hour or so. However, the ride back to the factory would be ab adrenaline pumping ride as the tuk-tuk driver may get  the bright idea to cut  off the engine and drive on neutral in order to preserve gas. A ride fit for a Michael Schumacher.

If you are arriving from the Bandarawela side, you need to pass through Nayabedde Estate bearing the cost of a small toll fee for using the estate. On the way you will witness some stunning views of the valleys and hills towards the Bandarawela city in the far distance and the Namunukula range even further away. One such vantage point is named the “Catherine Seat” where these views can be well observed, and you could have rest if you have been trekking up the hill.

The last lap to the top is common to both routes and at this juncture an aura of surrealism can be experienced with the display of some distinct quotes by great personalities portrayed alongside the road just before reaching the Lipton Seat.

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