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Perched at the southern edge of the Hill Country, the largely Tamil town of Haputale clings to a long, narrow mountain ridge with the land falling away steeply on both sides. On a clear day you can view the south coast from this ridge, and at night the Hambantota lighthouse pulses in the distance. On a not-so-clear day, great swaths of mist cling magnetically to the hillsides. Either way, it’s a spectacular part of the country.

The scruffy town center is a dusty ribbon of traffic, three-wheelers and small-scale commerce. But take a short walk and you’ll be rewarded with extraordinary views. The railway hugs one side of the ridge in a minor victory for 19th-century engineering.

Haputale is a useful base for trips to Horton Plains; guesthouses arrange vans for Rs 4500 per person.

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