SRI LANKA CLASSICAL TOUR
No wonder Marco Polo declared the atoll “the finest island of its size in the world;`Taprobane’ to the ancient Romans, `Serendib’ to the Arab traders,`Ceilao’ as christened by the Portuguese, `Ceylan’ by the Dutch followed by `Ceylon’ by the British and finally Sri Lanka to the Sinhalese.
The teardrop shaped southernmost point of mainland Asia became an indispensable port of call to the earliest travelers awaiting favorable trade winds for onward journeys. This Great; Emporium became a principal center of exchange and commerce between the Mediterranean trade of the Roman empire and the wealth of imperial China. The Portuguese came with sword and cross, the Dutch with ledger and law book and the British with roads and railways.
When Buddhism declined in the country of its birth, India, it took root in Ceylon; and here, so its adherents claim, it is still to be found in its purest form.
On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, meet your tour representative and your English-speaking chauffer guide / Guide before you head towards Jetwing Lagoon for the first night.
Transfer Time – 30 mins.
Designed in an inimitable style to blend in modern luxuries and space, Jetwing Lagoon is historically significant for being the first resort designed by the legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa. Graceful hues of white and brown adorn our living spaces, granting a sense of serene opulence and freedom. Our expansive swimming-g pool, the longest of its kin d in the area, is nestled in the middle of the property and complements the overall sensation of pure relaxation.
Overnight stay at Jetwing Lagoon.
After a relaxed morning, checkout and depart for our eventual destination Dambulla, in the heart of what is referred to as the Cultural Zone featuring Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdoms.
Transfer Time – 3 hours.
A little more than two hour’s drive into the journey brings us to Pinnawela, noted for its elephant orphanage center. We are invited to the private estate of the Samarasinghe’s, a distinguished family who have shared a passion for elephants over generations, creating a small private museum and a sustainability project manufacturing a variety of paper made from elephant dung. Within their private estate are 5 resident elephants which we can ride and accompany down to the river, observing daily bathing routines. Mrs. Carmani Samarasinghe hosts a delicious lunch of old family recipes in their mansion.
Our onward journey to Dambulla lasts around two and a half hours and our stay here is at the showpiece “Amaya Lake Dambulla”, an attractive estate set on the banks of the tranquil and majestic Kandalama Lake, capturing the essence of Sri Lanka design, culture and tradition.
Overnight stay at Amaya Lake.
The Amaya estate gardens are a bird’s paradise. Morning or evening walks along with a naturalist is when you see an abundance of species such as the Golden Oriole, White Egret, Emerald Alexandrine Parrot, Blue Flycatcher, Scarlett Flame Back, Stork billed Kingfishers and Blue Indian Roller.
Soon after breakfast, we take a pleasant drive through a forest reserve to the medieval city of Polonnaruwa.
Transfer Time – 1.5 hours.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, which rose to fame as a capital between the 10th to 12th century AD. A resemblance of Angkor Wat, the royal palace and audience hall, the quadrangle and spectacular gal vihare complex give clear evidence of Sri Lanka’s past glory.
This afternoon, visit the World Heritage giant rock fortress of Sigiriya, built in the 5th century as a bastion and palace of king Kasyapa. The most impressive facets of the unique complex are the geometrically laid water gardens, the frescoes of beautiful maidens, and the mirror wall with ancient graffiti. The lion platform and the summit of 1.6 hectares, was surrounded by buildings during the period of Sigiriya’s glory.
Transfer Time – 1 hour.
Return back to hotel for the overnight.
Overnight stay at Amaya Lake.
On this day we will take you on a unique excursion which is exclusive only to you. At approximately 0800 hrs transfer to Ritigala
Transfer time - 1 Hour
Ritigala - the monastic complex on the lower slopes of Ritigalakanda (Ritigala Mountain) has some of the most distinctive ruins in Sri Lanka. When Buddhism became established on the island, Ritigala was selected as a suitable spot for the construction of Vihares, or temples and the first, the “Lanka Vihare”, was founded in the second century BC. A peculiarity of Ritigala is that though it is located in the Dry Zone, many temperate wet Zone plants grow on the summit. It is also one of the most known habitats for a variety of herbs, roots, stems and flowers used in Ayurveda. Today, this forest hermitage is the abo de of several monks who use hollowed out caves and rough types of habitation as a retreat for meditation. The upper reaches and summit of the 766m rock is a Strict Nature Reserve but the monastic complex and caves can be visited.
Thereafter transfer to Ritigala Elephant transit home. This is an orphanage which cares for the orphan baby elephants which are lost on the jungles , brought to this " transit Home" & cared for with minimum human contact & in 5 years’ time when they are fit enough to survive on their own is released to the wild. Currently there are 07 baby elephants.
15 minutes transfer time
After this visit you will visit the "Patikara Maduwa" ancient rural village & meet with Master Sumedha. Master profess an ancient form of martial arts know locally as "Angam" which was a dying form of arts & the master took the responsibility to keep the sprit alive by dedicating his life to protect & foster the " Angam Techniques " for future generations.
01 hour transfer time
In the late afternoon, take a 4 wheel drive into Minneriya National Park
Transfer Time – 1.5 hours.
Home to large herds of wild elephants. Minneriya has been a sanctuary since 1938 and features King Mahasena’s magnificent Minneriya tank of the fourth century covering 3000 hectors. This important wetland supports paddy fields and many aquatic birds such as painted stocks and spot billed pelicans. Other inhabitants include the purple faced leaf monkey, sambar, chital, leopard and sloth bear. Mugger crocodiles and water monitors can also be seen.
(Depending on the period of the year / weather and favorable conditions we will provide the safari at different national parks with prior notice, Kaudulla National park or Eco Park which are located within the same region).
Prior to dinner, we may wish to spend some time with the chef on the application of Sri Lanka’s various spices into its cuisine.
Overnight stay at Amaya Lake.
Checkout this morning and drive to Kandy. Along the way, visit World Heritage Dambulla, Known for its richly painted cave temples.
Transfer Time – 2 hours.
Like Sigiriya, Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that king Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century B.C., later turning the caves into a rock temple. Some of its frescoes are over 2000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long. The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history.
Our next stop is in Matale at the impressive home of Mrs. Ena De Silva, artist, social activist and prominent Sri Lankan who hosts a delicious lunch for us. Ena, whose father Sir Richard Aluvihara was the first Inspector General of Police in post independent Ceylon, runs the noted Matale Heritage Center.
Kandy was the last bastion of Buddhist political power against colonial invasion. This hill station is remarkable for the natural beauty of its setting in a peaceful wooded valley overlooking a vast artificial lake. The palace, shrines and British period buildings give it a special character, while the Buddha’s tooth relic lends a religious importance to the historic highland capital.
We arrive in Kandy in the afternoon and stay at Amaya Hills, Nestled in the picturesque hill tops of Kandy, Amaya Hills offers guests a breathtaking retreat that peers into the verdant mountains of Hanthana. Built along the lines of a Kandyan Palace, a Maligawa as locals would call it, this four-star hotel is a tasteful mingling of Kandyan culture p aired with the trimmings of contemporary luxury.
Overnight stay at Amaya Hills.
Spend the day exploring Kandy at leisure, via the upper lake drive, stopping at the market square featuring the famous Batik and Gem stores, the Anglican Cathedral and the Temple of the Tooth. The sacred tooth relic of Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka during the reign of king Meghavarna (301-328).
The Royal Botanical Gardens, formerly the pleasure gardens of Kandyan kings is very impressive as is the 18 hole Victoria golf course, voted the most attractive in the subcontinent and amongst the hundred most beautiful anywhere. A round of golf can be arranged on this splendid undulating terrain, over which the holes are routed, combined with the backdrop of hills and lakes.Overnight stay at Amaya Hills.
We leave Kandy this morning and take a three hours’ drive to Colombo.
‘In the afternoon, we drive around the capital and its impressive Parliament House, designed by celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa. Colombo is fascinating, with a cosy mixture of past and present and is the commercial centre of the country. The original trading settlers - the Portuguese, Dutch and British have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages, which have been absorbed into the speech of Sri Lankans.
We stop for Evening Tea at the Old Dutch Hospital, which has been impressively restored and now holds eateries, bars, boutique stores and spas. Constructed all of four centuries ago, the building is a resounding example of eastern Dutch architecture with high ceilings, thick walls, large wide windows and terracotta tiled floors.
For our final night, we recommend dinner at “Gallery Café”, once the office of Geoffrey Bawa. The open air cafe overlooking a pebbled courtyard has inspiring Sri Lankan and European cuisine.
Overnight stay at The Kingsbury, Colombo.
The morning is at leisure with transport and guide available to pursue some of Sri Lanka’s fine shopping….such as the `Paradise Road’ and `Barefoot’ stores.
Then later, transfer to Colombo airport in conjunction with the departure flight time. Assistance with check-in, priority immigration and other formalities…..Transfer Time – 1.5 hours.