Grand Sri Lanka Round Trip No. 300 J
Day 1 Hendala - Colombo - Hendala
Our driver will cantact you in the late morning at the Hotel Pegasus Reef, Hendala. Afternoon city tour of Colombo. Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka with a population of 1,5 million. The Fort, in the very centre of the city, is where most of the colonial remnants, mainly from the British era are still to be found. Nearby Pettah is Colombo's busiest and most traditional bazaar, a mosaic of human activities and architectural memories. Cinnamon Gardens is the most prestigious residential area. Overnight at the Pegasus Reef Hotel, Hendala.
Day 2 Hendala - Negombo - Puttalam - Anuradhapura
You will leave your hotel after breakfast and drive long the costal road and the original canals built by the Dutch in the 17th century mainly for the transport of spices to the Colombo port. In Negombo, short visit of the fishery harbour. From Negombo you will take the main road to Chilaw and further to Puttalam.
At Puttalam you shall leave the coast and drive into the interior of the country you will pass many small hamlets and through villages and see palm groves and coconut plantations and paddy fields, you can stop to visit a farm house and if possible a local school. In the evening you will reach Anuradhapura. Check-in, dinner and overnight at the Galway Miridiya Lodge.
Day 3 Anuradhapura – Mihintale - Polonnaruwa
After breakfast you check-out and will visit a selection of the most remarkable sights. As per written records Anuradhapura has been made royal capital by the king Panduk Anhaya in 380 BC. It remained residence and royal capital for 119 successive Singhalese kings till the year 1000 AC when it was abandoned and the capital moved to Polonnaruwa. You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest dagoba of Sri Lanka, remains from palaces, temples, monasteries, ceremonial baths and the temple of the holy Bo-tree. This tree was grown from a sapling of the very tree under which more than 2500 years ago the Buddha found enlightenment. After the visit continue for Mihintale.
Mihintale is the place where in the year 247 BC Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. The message of Buddhism was brought to the Singhalese King Devanampiya Tissa by Mahinda son of the great Indian Buddhist Emperor Ashoka. In a series of flights, 1840 ancient granite slap steps lead majestically up the hillside. After this visit you continue for Polonnaruwa where you will arrive in the evening. Check-in, dinner and overnight at the Hotel Sudu Araliya.
Day 4 Polonnaruwa – Sigiriya
After breakfast you check-out and will see the well preserved remains of the city which has been the capital of the Singhalese kings from the 11th to 13th Century. The famous Singhalese king Parakrama Bahu the Great (1153-1186) has built in the environs of Polonnaruwa an impressive irrigation system with many artificial tanks interconnected with irrigation channels. The reservoir near Polonnaruwa has been until recently, when the large dams were built in the mountains, the largest and most beautiful artificial lake.
After this visit you continue to Sigiriya. Check-in at the Hotel Sigiriya Village. In the afternoon you drive to the Sigiriya rock. This impressive monolith which rises 200 m out of the jungle has been transformed in the 5th Century by King Kassapa into a fortress and became his capital, as he feared for his life. On top of the rock was the king's palace "The Heaven Castle", what remains today are only foundation walls of this once magnificent building and the many fortifications. What remains to be seen and is worth the difficult climb are the phenomenal frescoes of the Sigiriya Maidens. No one knows whom the seductive beauties, painted in brilliant colours on the rock walls, represent. One can think of them as heaven dwelling nymphs from a realm of radiant light. You return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 Sigiriya – Dambulla – Aukana – Sigiriya
After breakfast you leave for Dambulla where you will ascend for a visit of the most impressive of all the many cave temples in Sri Lanka. The Raj Maha Vihara temple complex consists of five separate caverns with numerous statues of the Buddha and Hindu deities. The ceilings of the caves are fully illustrated with paintings mostly from the many lives of the Buddha. The history of the caves dates back to the 1st Century BC when this place served as refuge to the king Valagam Bahu being driven out of Anuradhapura by invading armies from South India. After the king returned to his capital, the caves became a Buddhist sanctuary. After this visit you drive to Aukana.
The Aukana's perfect and elegant 12m high standing Buddha is adored all over the island to such an extent, that several full scale copies have been erected in the island. The statue was done in the same period as those at Polonnaruwa's Gal Vihara both of which emphasis on Buddha's superhuman, transcendal powers. Carved out of the living rock with supreme assurance, Aukana Buddha is a magnificent image. His expression is serene & from his curled hair there sprouts the flame signifying the power of supreme enlightenment. Although the statue is large & stands straight up with feet firmly planted on the lotus stone pedestal, the body retains a graceful quality enhanced by beautifully flowing drapery clinging to the body.
The magnificent free-standing statue carved out of a single rock is the tallest Buddha statue in existence today. Following the destruction of similar but much larger statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, the Aukana Buddha has gained even greater significance in the Buddhist World. - After this visit you return to your hotel in Sigiriya for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 Sigiriya – Matale – Kandy
After breakfast you leave to Kandy on the way along the road you will see paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber and spice gardens and plantations. You will stop at one of the spice gardens, there you can see a lot of trees, bushes and plants cropping spices.
In Peradeniya you visit of the world famous Botanical Garden. The park dates back to 1371 under the reign of king Vikrama Bahu III when he held court here. The English put the cornerstone of the present garden in 1821. During the Second World War the garden served as headquarters of Earl Mount-batten, the supreme commander of the allied forces in Southeast Asia who became later the last Viceroy of India. You will find in the garden a very large variety of orchids, spice trees, palms, bushes, as well as tropical plants and flowers of all type.
Arriving in Kandy you will proceed to the Hotel Suisse for check-in. Kandy, situated at 500 m, is beautifully nestled between green hills. At its very centre lies a small artificial lake and the palace of the last Singhalese king which has become a temple and the holiest shrine in Sri Lanka, where the tooth relic of Lord Buddha is highly venerated. You will visit this temple in the late afternoon during a short city tour of Kandy. In the evening you will have the opportunity to attend a dance performance, where you will see the famous Kandyan dances, as well as up-country and devil dances. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 7 Kandy – Bandarawela
After breakfast you leave Kandy. From Peradeniya the road starts steadily to ascend and at noon, shortly before reaching Nuwara Eliya, you will have climbed 1'500 m. You are now in the tea country; wherever you look, you will see tea plantations, the rich full green of thousands and thousands of tea bushes. And out of the green in regular intervals the white coloured tea factories will enchant your eyes. Occasionally you can see a few rice fields and near villages, vegetable plantations or gardens.
Lunch break at your cost at the Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya. During the British rule, the Grand Hotel was the summer palace of the English governor. The small resort town of Nuwara Eliya, situated at 2070 m above sea level, lies on a little lake and is surrounded by mountains covered over and over by tea bushes. At the town boundaries there are a lot of vegetable plantations and flower fields, but also along the roads of Nuwara Eliya and in most of its gardens flowers are blooming.
After lunch the journey descends to the town of Bandarawela at 1200 m, which you will reach in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the Orient Hotel Bandarawela.
Whenever possible, we shall do our best, to allow you to make the journey from Peradeniya to Bandarawela by train. A journey by train through the tea country, past waterfalls, mountain creeks and through the tea plantations is something very special! With no more then 40 km the train drives uphill and masters the severest inclines by means of impressive tunnels. Your driver brings you (in Peradeniya) to the railroad station and waits for you upon your arrival in Bandarawela. You can take at you cost a lunch packet along from the hotel.
Day 8 Bandarawella - Kataragama - Hambantota
After breakfast at the hotel you leave Bandarawela to the south, passing tea and vegetable plantations and many small villages and hamlets. From the descending road you have again and again a beautiful view to the mountains and into the valleys. After reaching the plain you will again see coconut plantations and the familiar paddy fields. The closer you get to the coast, the countryside becomes more and more barren and near to the sea, you will see along the road many salt fields from which salt is produced.
Your first visit will be to Kataragama. Kataragama is a regionally popular place of pilgrimage of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim of Sri Lanka and South India, where the god Muruga is the main deity. Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka and South India refer to the place as Katirkamam and it has a famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Katirkaman. The presiding Deity is Lord Murugan or Skanda. Saivite Hindus of South India call him also as Subrahmanya. The deity is depicted either with six faces and twelve hands, or one face and four hands. There is also a related shrine called as Sella Katirkamam dedicated to the beloved elephant-faced god Ganesha nearby, who is known as Lord Murugan’s elder brother.
The local river namely Manik Ganga (River of Gems) functions as a place of ablution where a sacred bath is taken to purify one-self. Local residents declare that one can be healed of ailments by bathing in it not only from its high gem content but also the medicinal properties of the roots of various trees that line the river through the jungle.
You will reach Hambantota at noon. In the late afternoon you have the option to do a photo safari into the Bundala game park. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Peacock Beach, Hambantota.
Day 9 Hambantota - Mirissa
After breakfast in the morning check-out and you leave Hambantota drive along the sea shore. At Dondora you will reach the most southern point of the island and continue in westerly direction along large, beautiful, white, palm fringed beaches. You will pass Matara and arrive in the late morning at the Giragala Resort in Mirissa, which is situated direct on the beach. Dinner at the hotel. If the weather conditions permit, you will have the possibility to to take a boat ride to to sea wales an dolphins.
Day 10 Mirissa – Galle – Colombo
After breakfast you check-out from your hotel and leave for Colombo. You will pay a visit to the old city of Galle. The fort with its impressive great rampart is well preserved. In 1505 the Portuguese took the town from the Singhalese king and built large fortifications which they called Santa Cruz. In 1640 the Dutch stormed the fortress. They later incorporated the remains of the Portuguese fortification in an imposing new fort for the protection of the harbour and the sea routes. On the way to Colombo you have the choice to take the newly built motorway and it will take you only two hours to reach your hotel or you can take the coastal road passing through well-known resorts as Hikkaduwa, Bentota and Kalutara. You will reach Colombo in the evening. Check-in at the Best Western Hotel Elyon, Colombo.
Day 11 Colombo
Breakfast at your hotel and end of tour.
The prices are on request and include bed and breakfast in Colombo and Hendala and half board (Breakfast & dinner) on the tour, transport in air-conditioned car with experienced English speaking driver/guide from Colombo/Hendala and back to your hotel in Colombo. The entrance fees to the sites mentioned are not included as well as any excursions or sports activities at Mirissa and the photo safari in the deep south ex Hambantota. As the operators pay the same prices as the guests, it makes sense that the guests pay these fees direct on the spot. The entrance fees amount to about USD 150.00 per person, children up to 12 years pay half.
On the 24th December and 31st December inclusive of gala dinner.
During the Kandy Perahera