The “Explore Sri Lanka” is a trip designed and catered to a very specific group of individual. They are those who’d appreciate the beauty of the hills and the valleys in between. They are the ones who would appreciate the coolness of the mountain air as well as the warm sandy beaches. Taking in every waterfall, stream and boulder they come by with an artistic eye.
Enjoy a casual walk through the thousands of tea bushes along the way. Tread on the golden sands of the coast. Have a truly Sri Lankan experience curled up under a blanket sipping steaming hot Ceylon Tea. This tour will take you on an adventure throughout the island. So make sure you buckle up for the ride.
No of Nights -
10 | Meal Plan - Half Borad
Arrival-Pick up | Anuradhapura
After landing in Sri Lanka, our representatives will meet you at the gate. Your party would be escorted in one of our luxurious vehicles to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. After checking-in, the rest of the day is yours to laze around and gather your strength.
Anuradhapura | Jaffna
Our tour takes us on this day to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, where our knowledgeable guides will provide you much of the facts and history about this great city. After the city tour, your party will check into the hotel in Jaffna, for rest and relaxation, followed by dinner.
The ancient city of Anuradhapura, known once for being one of the most famous cities of kings, will be thoroughly explored today. It is said that it was King Pandukabhya who first set his eyes on this landscape, and he did a fine job transforming it to the one of the most famous cities of old, to be known in Sri Lanka and even throughout the world. His descendants kept the throne from the 5th Century B.C to the end of the 10th Century A.D. The most valued of all architecture in Anuradhapura are the many hemispherical brick constructions known as dagobas. The most notable being the “Ruwanveliseya” a mammoth of a dagoba. Standing over 330 feet and having a circumference of over 950 feet, this ancient monument dates back to the 2nd century B.C. Anuradhapura was even declared a world heritage site in 1982. It is rich in many treasures and relics from the ancient days. It is even the city in which the southern branch of the“Bo” tree which sheltered the Buddha as he reached enlightenment is planted.
Jaffna | Jaffna
After breakfast, our first location on our list is the island of Nainathiv. After exploring the island thoroughly, it’s back to the hotel for some relaxation. The tour takes us towards the city of Jaffna in the evening, where a tour of the city would be arranged. As night falls, everyone would be taken to the hotel to check-in and relax.
The island of Nainathiv is home to the Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya, one of the most sacred places of worship of all Buddhists throughout the island of Sri Lanka. It is documented that the earliest pilgrimages lead to this sacred place is from the 1st century B.C. The Mahavamsa (A great book of historical records) reveals that the island of Nainathiv is a place that even the Buddha himself had visited. The records further say that this holy visitation was brought on by a dispute among two “Naga” kings over a gem studded throne. The kings, Chulodara and Mahodara gifted the throne to Lord Buddha, who had promptly refused them. The throne was later enshrined and the rest is history as they say.
The great city of Jaffna is the capital of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka and is the administrative headquarters of the entire district named after the city itself. Known for its rich culture and heritage, Jaffna is home to over 88,000 people. Jaffna had also been a medieval kingdom that stood for over 4 centuries. It was also one of the main strategic strongholds in the recent civil war that ended in 2009.
Jaffna | Dambulla
A quick trip in our van and you end up at the foot of the Dambulla Cave Temple. Towering over the city of Dambulla, this chunk of rock is about 500 feet high and the base has a circumference of over 1 mile. History records show that the famous king Walagamba of Anuradhapura was exiled to this part of the island. In his loneliness he came upon and found shelter in the caves of Dambulla. After regaining his seat of power, the grateful king constructed a monument of gratitude which is known today as the Rock Temple of Dambulla. They are the most famous among all rock temples within the country, dating back to the 1st century B.C.
Dambulla | Dambulla
After having a hearty breakfast, it’s off to see the Lion’s rock, also known as Sigiriya. After a guided climb to the top, it’s off to Polonnaruwa, another ancient city. After a tour of Polonnaruwa, its back to the hotel for some rest and dinner.
It is said that King Kassapa, a fugitive king fled to this part of the island in the 5th century A.D. The king decided to make the rock his citadel. This mammoth of a rock is not only a natural marvel, but also contains amazing architecture and ingenuity that was rare to be seen during its glory days. The famous Sigiriya frescoes are another visually and artistically magnificent piece present on the side of the vast rock. The bejeweled maidens depicted in the frescoes, are often theorized to be the concubines of the king. To really understand this marvel, it is best to hire a local tour guide, who’d faithfully follow you right to the top of the rock, offering interesting tidbits of history, mixed with their story telling skills. If you are brave enough to reach the top, a handsome reward awaits. The reward being, the view of the remains of the once glorious throne room and the royal seat of the king. Though these artifacts are but a shell of their former magnificent self, they still stand there centuries later showing everyone the architectural excellence of the ancient kings.
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is one of the oldest known capitals of Sri Lanka. The Lankatilake and Thuparamaya are some of the largest image houses depicting frescoes of the Polonnaruwa era. Rankoth Vehera and Kirivehera are two large dome-shaped monuments adorned with a jewel at its pinnacle. Both of these “Sthupas” are testaments to the genius and the ingenuity of the builders and architects of the time. The Parakrama Samudraya or “Sea of Parakrama” is a man-made reservoir duly named after the king who ordered its construction. It is named so because of its magnitude alone. Men who had not seen a sea, assumed it would be as big as this man-made one.
Dambulla | Kandy
The tour leads us uphill the next day. The first stop on the list is Giritale. After appreciating the beautiful carvings, it’s off to the spice gardens of Matale. Further uphill, we meet the great city of Kandy and our final destination of the day is Nuwaraeliya.
In Giritale, lies the famous Avukana Buddha statue. The statue stands about 12m of the ground. Carved from a large chunk of pure granite, this statue has really stood the test of time. The standing Buddha depicted in this carving displays a variation of a hand gesture known as the “Abhaya Mudra”. It is translated to being the sign of fearlessness. Even the granite robes carved on the body has a lot of subtle details that give it a more life-like appearance. The tale about the statue says that the statue construction was a result of a competition between a master carver and his young pupil. The statue is recorded to be one of the best examples of a standing statue created in all of ancient Sri Lanka.
The next stop for the day is the Spice gardens in Matale. Here you can see all the various spices Sri Lanka is famous for. Everyone has a chance to appreciate how they are grown and later processed.
Kandy would be the next destination. The ancient Kandyan Kingdom was the last known major kingdom of the island of Sri Lanka and Kandy was the last capital. The city which is now considered a World Heritage site was one a self-sufficient, resourceful capital. The proud people of Kandy still pass down and carry on many traditions and stories that have been in existence for countless generations. After a quick drive around the Kandy Lake, it’s off to Nuwaraeliya to check-in for the night. The beautiful mountain ranges, the greenery all around and the gush of waterfalls are some of the reasons that it attracts scores of tourists all year long. The chilly weather with occasional mist and rain provide ideal weather for long hikes and nature exploring. Nuwaraeliya is also responsible for a significant share of the world’s tea supply. The thousands and thousands of tea bushes grow very well in this environment. Nuwaraeliya is also home to a vast mountain range. Among them, standing 8282 feet above sea level is Pidurutalagala, the tallest among the rest. Gregory Lake is another important landmark one passes by in Nuwaraeliya. Built under the British Governor Sir William Gregory in 1873, it was used for water sports and recreational activities even during the colonial times.
Kandy | Adam’s Peak
Though the day begins in its usual fashion, and you are taken on a tour throughout Nuwaraeliya. Our guide will escort your party to a hotel close to Adam’s peak. The climb to the top of Adam’s peak commences in the night.
The climb to Adam’s Peak, which is a 7359 foot mountain, begins after dark. The mountain also referred to as Sri Pada or “Sacred foot” is conical in shape. There is a rock formation at the summit that has an imprint of a foot. This formation is widely believed to be the foot of the Buddha by Buddhists, the foot of Lord Shiva by Hindus and the foot of Adam by Catholics. Many pilgrimages are lead to this very spot to show respect to this place. Also since the climb will take all night, everyone gets to see the sun rise as well.
Adam’s Peak | Tissamaharama
After the downwards climb from Adam’s peak, it’s off to Badulla for more sightseeing. After spending the day touring, our final stop for the day is Tissamarama for the night.
Badulla, which is a part of the Uva province is also a very ancient city of Sri Lanka. Here you can visit the Muthiyanganaya Rajama Viharaya. Thiss temple complex is situated in the middle of the busy city of Badulla. The Temple’s history dates back to the time of the Buddha and the city of Badulla and the Uva province is found in early sacred records from the 19-18th centuries B.C. The records talk about a powerful king called Ravana who used Badulla as his capital city. The epic tale of Rama and Ravan is said to be from this time period as well. Many places described in this tale are real places that stand tall even to this day in Badulla. Ravana Ella, Seetha Kotuwa and Seetha Eliya are such places.
It is believed that after Ravana lost the war, the victor made Kelaniya the new capital, and Uva fell into the shadows of history.
The first site of the day would be the ancient city of Karagama. After touring it to everyone’s heart’s content, it’s time to head south. We will check you in at the hotel in Galle. In the evening, we will visit other places of importance around Galle and head back for a night of entertainment and relaxation.
The city of Kacharagama, known as Kataragama now is known for the many pilgrimage parties that head that way. This sacred place is special to both Buddhists and Hindus alike. The aboriginal community of Sri Lanka known as the Vedda, also find this place very sacred. People from all over the island, flock to this city to worship various deities. Many a traveller from south India too, visits this ancient city.
The Ruhunu Maha Kataragama shrine dedicated to the deity Skandaa-Murukan,better known as Kataragama deviyo, is the city’s main attraction. Although Kataragama was once a budding town in the Uva province during the medieval times, it has lately become a developing and thriving hub. The city is also the home of the ancient Kiri Vehera stupa. There are many ancient and historical records about Kataragama which date back to the 1st Century B.C. This city was once the stronghold and capital of many Sinhalese kings in the time of the Rohana Kingdom.
In the evening, it’s off to visit the Avalokitheshwara Buddha statue. The statue which is carved out of solid rock is considered one of the best carved statues that really portray the likeness of the Buddha. Its sheer size and attention to detail and exquisite workmanship make this statue one of the best in the Mahanayist Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is believed that the statue belongs to the period between the 7th and 9th centuries. Also there are many theories and folklore built around the actual construction of this great statue, but none can confirm the real story behind it.
We will be heading back to Colombo today. The long road back, leads us through Balapitiya and Bentota to mainly visit the Kosgoda turtle hatchery. While the rest of the trip back to Colombo might be uneventful, we will have a tour of the city of Kelaniya in the evening.
A quick detour at Balapitiya will give your team a chance to take a long boat ride along the Madu River. Its location is in the District of Galle in the Southers Province. The river banks into a beautiful lagoon, which as the name suggests, is the Madu lagoon. The lagoon further opens directly into the Indian Ocean. The Madu lagoon is very scenic and one of the most beautiful in the island. The city of Bentota, located on the coastal belt of the island is approximately 65Km from Colombo, our destination.
The village is said to have got its name from an ancient demon called “Bem”. The story goes to say that he used to rule the river banks of the village, which in Sinhala is “Thota”.
Our journey will also take us to the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. There are 5 main species of turtles seen at this hatchery, they are, The Green Turtle , The Leatherback Turtle , The Hawksbill Turtle, The Loggerhead Turtle, and The Olive Ridley Turtle. The eggs collected by the local fisherman and villagers are purchased by the hatchery and are incubated in sand pens until the babies are ready to dig themselves out of the sand. The hatchlings are carefully transferred to seawater tanks and they are later sent back to the ocean in the night. The Hatchery is responsible for the release of more than 1.75 million young turtles into their natural habitat. This hatchery was established by an endowment by the Hasselblad Estate
The great temple of Kelaniya, the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya is what you will be seeing in the evening. The trip is about 7 miles from the hotel. The chief priest of the ancient temple is Ven. Prof. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkhitha Thero. It is recorded and widely believed that this temple was graced by the presence of the Buddha himself, during his third and final visit to the island. This was said to be 8 years after attaining enlightenment. Thus the history of the Kelaniya temple dates back to 500 B.C. The Mahavansa which is a historical text records that at the inception of the temple, the Buddha had sat on a gem studded throne and preached to his faithful followers. The beautiful paintings on the walls of the temple depict many linear stories of many events. The stories are drawn linearly and they move in one direction to keep its viewers in complete interest.
Colombo | Negombo | Depature
On the final day, our team will lead you through the busy streets of Colombo and many sites of interest to do some shopping and learn some history. After spending the whole day at these places, it’s off to the airport to say our final goodbyes and depart tired, but happily.
Our tour leads us through the busy streets of Colombo. There are many places to shop and learn some history from. The fast changing Colombo sky line is a testament to the high rate of development within the city. There are massive buildings that get constructed over night from places where old ones stood. The authorities also have managed to preserve some of the old architecture especially from colonial times. The Pettah Bazar, a shopping paradise, will be one of our stops. The sellers are usually very friendly and love to bargain. But it’s always better to be careful and stick together as a crowd when travelling through the little streets among a sea of heads. There is many a temple and kovil in and around Colombo. The National Museum also will be an interesting place to visit during the day. After visiting and shopping, it’s time to pack our bags and head to the airport. After a final good bye, it’s time to depart with the beautiful memories and tons of photographs and a Explore of Sri Lanka.