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Culture & Heritage - 3

Duration : 13 Nights / 14 Days


These tours take you to all parts of the country combining culture, history, religion, nature and beach, for those of you who want to see everything, even if it means relinquishing some of your creature comforts for a visit to an untouched, authentic part of Sri Lanka.

Day 1 - COLOMBO TO SIGIRIYA

Ayubowan! A warm welcome to our Island Nation!!!

On arrival at the Colombo Airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Sigiriya (Approx. 5 hours drive).

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Sigiriya

Day 2 - SIGIRIYA

Your tour begins with a visit to Sri Lanka’s first ancient Capital - Anuradhapura (Approx. 1.5 Hrs drive).

Possibly the most celebrated ancient capital and first kingdom of Sri Lanka that remained in that position for nearly 1500 years from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD. Anuradhapura is most notable for its Hydraulic Technology. Though it stands in ruins today, the ultimate structures still stand tall. Second only to the pyramids in Giza, the dagobas, are an amazing work of architecture in honor of Buddhism. The Jetavana dagoba is the most spectacular of them all. The sacred Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura is an extension of the sacred Bo tree in India (related to Lord Buddha attaining enlightenment). It is also the oldest recorded tree in the world (2,250 years). The Ruwanwelisaya, just a few minutes walk from the Sri Maha Bodhi, is one of the worlds tallest dagobas built by King Dutugemunu in 140BC. One of Buddha’s relics is deposited in this sacred stupa. The Anuradhapura Archeological Museum, the Abhayagiri and the Jetavanarama Museums are worth a visit.

Drive on to Mihintale (15 minutes)

12km east of Anuradhapura is famous as the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in 247BC. The Sinhalese King of Anuradhapura, King Devanampiyatisse (reigned 250-210BC) was hunting in the hills of Mihintale. Pursuing a stag to the top of the hill, he was confronted by Mahinda the (son or possibly Brother) of the great Buddhist Emperor of India Asoka, who had been dispatched to convert the people of Sri Lanka to his chosen faith.

Having tested the King’s intelligence to judge his fitness to receive the Buddha’s teachings, Mahinda proceeded to expound his teachings, promptly converting according to the Mahavamsa, the King and his entire entourage of 40,000 attendants. The grateful King gave Mahinda and his followers a Royal Park in Anuradhapura. This became the core of the Maha Vihara, while Mihintale developed into an important Buddhist Center and important pilgrimage site during Poson Poya (June), which commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Thousands of white robed pilgrims descend on the place during this time.

The setting of the ruins and dagobas with rocky hills linked by beautiful old flights of stone steps shaded by Frangipani trees is gorgeous. The oldest recorded nature sanctuary is located here. There are 1850 steps to climb if you want to see all of the sites. You may avoid climbing the first flight by driving up the old road to the Dana Saalawa level.

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Sigiriya

Day 3 - SIGIRIYA

An exciting day awaits you.

You will first climb the famous Rock Fortress at Sigiriya.

The shortest lived but the most extraordinary of all Sri Lanka’s medieval capitals, declared a world heritage site, this ancient ruin was once the Capital of Kind Kasapa1. A lover of beauty, he ruled Sigiriya for 18 years, transforming the surroundings of his historical palace into a thing of beauty. Only 19 of the original 500 immortal frescoes, representing celestial maidens remain today. Its extensive network of beautifully laid out gardens; reservoirs and other structures including its unique plumbing system stand witness to the grandeur of its architecture, during its day.

It can be a hard 200m climb to the top, but once there, the view is magnificent.


Continue on to Polonnaruwa (Approx. 1.5 Hrs drive).

one of the island’s two great ruined cities (the other being Anuradhapura) and a UNESCO World Heritage site blending both culture and religion is the 2nd recorded ancient kingdom that many visitors find the time or the archeological enthusiasm to visit. But as the two are significantly different it is difficult to call decisively in favour of either. The ruins at Polonnaruwa cover a smaller area, are better preserved and offer a more digestible and satisfied bite of ancient Sinhalese culture and there is nowhere at Anuradhapura to match the artistry of the Quadrangle and Gal Vihara. Polonnaruwa rose to prominence between the 11th and 13th Centuries AD and peaked during the reign of its famous monarch, King Parakramabahu the Great.

One of the best planned archaeological relic sites, it is famous for its reservoir the Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakrama) the best example of the advanced irrigation engineering and construction prevalent during ancient times that has stood the test of time and remains operational even today.

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Sigiriya

Day 4 - SIGIRIYA TO KANDY

Set off to Dambulla (Approx. 1.5 Hrs drive)

At the heart of the cultural triangle, so called because it encloses some of the most ancient of historical sites and cities - chiefly Anuradhapura, Polannaruwa and Sigiriya, lies Dambulla known for its famous Golden Rock Temple, a most impressive cave monastery and one of the largest in South Asia.

Of the 157 Buddha statues found in the five dimly lit grottos, 73 were gold plated at the behest of King Nissanka Malla, the 12-century monarch. Its walls decorated with some of the finest murals in the country are a showcase of sacred Buddhist art at its finest. A sacred pilgrimage site for nearly 22 centuries, it has been declared a world heritage site.

Its spectacular setting on a massive rock overlooking the plains of Kurunegala, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Ritigala mountain range, is truly awe-inspiring.

Drive south to Kandy (Approx. 3 Hrs drive), en-route you will pass through the town of Matale.

a region famous for its spices, the city lies in the heart of the island in a broad fertile valley at an elevation of 300m. The road north of town is lined with dozens of spice plantations, (which welcome visitors) where vanilla, cinchona, jackfruit, cocoa and cardamom thrive. The area is also famous for kohila (a type of watercress) and small mild chilies.

Continue on your journey through rural Sri Lanka.

The Hill Capital of Sri Lanka (the last Kingdom of the Sri Lankan Kings) nestled in a valley in the Highlands and locally referred to, as "Nuwara" meaning The Great City, a picturesque town by the side of a miniature lake. Visit one of the only natural reserves within city limits, the beautiful Udawatta Kele famous for its avifauna.

A hive of activity during the day with shops displaying, handicrafts, colorful batiks in cotton and local silk, antique & skillfully crafted jewelry, semi precious and precious stones, it quietens down at dusk. Add flavor to your visit by trying out the local cuisine! Don’t forget to sample the 'short eats’ (snacks) as its popularly known.

Check-in to your hotel and spend your evening at leisure! Overnight in Kandy

Day 5 - KANDY

This morning we take you on a tour to view unique pieces of craftsmanship in three of the oldest temples in Kandy, evidence of ancient Kandyan temple architecture to be seen at the Embekke Devale (an ancient Hindu temple), Lankatilleke and Gadaladeniya

Commissioned in the 14th century 1371AD, once a 3-storied structure, the Embekke Devale is famed for its elaborate woodcarvings, pillars and other structures located in Udu Nuwara 8 miles from Kandy. Built on the crest of a large rock overlooking the Hantane mountain range, the majestic Lankatilake Raja Maha Vihara believed to be one of the most magnificent architectural edifices in the Gampola Kingdom that dates back to the 14th century. Walk past rice paddies to the Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara, an ancient monastery built by King Buwanekabahu IV in 1344. The chief architect was from south India and the temple is essentially a south Indian design.

Visit the Temple of the Tooth in time for the 6:30 ceremony followed by a cultural dance performance.

The Temple of the Tooth one of the most sacred & famous Buddhist sites, not just in Sri Lanka but also in the religion worldwide, is host to one of Asia’s most celebrated festivals, The "Esala" procession, held during the month of July/August around the Full Moon. The temple took nearly a hundred years to construct from 1687 to 1782 and houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. Rituals are performed daily at 04:30, 10:30 and 6:30 p.m. The sacred square and old city centre within the temple complex contain the four shrines of the Gods Vishnu, Natha, Kataragama and the Goddess Pattini and many historical buildings and museums.

The pageant features over a 100 elephants in elaborate and colourful dress, accompanied by traditional dancers, drummers and torchbearers.

Overnight in Kandy

Day 6 - KANDY TO ADAM”S PEAK

Today, your adventure will take you to Adam’s Peak. The tour is planned as a late-night expedition to the summit. Ensure sufficient time is provided for the uphill trek. (Approx. 5 Hrs. drive)

Check-in at the hotel and spend a relaxing evening in preparation for your climb.

a miniature Matterhorn, which stands head and shoulders above the surrounding hills, is simultaneously one of Sri Lanka’s most striking natural landmarks and one of its most celebrated places of pilgrimage. At 2243m it is the island’s 5th highest peak and is a revered site to all the major religions represented in Sri Lanka who believe it holds the footprint of Lord Buddha by the Buddhists, Lord Shiva by the Hindus and Adam by the Christians and Muslims.

The ascent of Adam’ s Peak is traditionally made by night, allowing you to reach the top in time for dawn, which offers the best odds of seeing the extraordinary views free from cloud, a spectacular sunrise and a chance glimpsing of the peak’s enigmatic shadow. The upper slopes of the mountain are clothed in dense and largely undisturbed stands of cloud forest, which are home to various species of colourful montane forest birdlife.

Most visitors climb the mountain during the pilgrimage season December through to May. The steps up the mountainside are illuminated and the weather is at its best. The climb from Dalhousie is a challenging 7KMS up a mainly stepped footpath of around 5500 steps. Allow around 4 hours to get up the mountain with tea stops. A 2 a.m. start should get you to the top on time.

Beware it can be bitterly cold at the summit! The accommodation at Adam’s Peak is basic.

Recommend adequate rest the previous night of the climb and a day to relax after.

Day 7 - ADAM’S PEAK TO NUWARA ELIYA

Take a rest after your decent from the peak and make your way to Nuwara Eliya (Approx. 2 Hrs. drive)!

Perched high up in the hills, nearly a mile above sea level, Nuwara Eliya at 1869 meters, sits like a sentinel overlooking tea country on all sides. Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka's tallest peak is only a short way away.

A replica of English country towns with their lush greenery and profusion of gorgeous flora, Nuwara Eliya is touted as "Little England" with its Victorian houses, a colourful park, golf coarse, Lake Gregory, a racecourse and Hakkgala Gardens. A number of hotels including colonial structures like the Hill Club and the Grand Hotel which lives up to its name to this day, a uniquely converted tea factory hotel, with amazing attention to detail built among tea gardens only hours away from the town, and several holiday homes make this a popular holiday resort.

The climate is cool throughout the year with an annual average temperature of a chilly 15.9C and nearly 2,000 mm of rain, alternated by days of bright sunshine. The British established Nuwra Eliya in the 19th Century, to cater to the Europeans settled in Sri Lanka, to whom it came to be home away from home if only for short spells. However it grew to be Sri Lanka's foremost holiday resort with the town coming alive in April. A weeklong calendar of events, including horse and motor races, are its biggest attraction. Holidaymakers in droves converge on Nuwara Eliya in season. Hindu pilgrims from around the world visit the Hanuman and Seetha Amman Temples based on the Ramayana epic of Rama & Seetha.

Spend the evening at leisure! Overnight in Nuwara Eliya

Day 8 - NUWARA ELIYA TO ELLA

After a leisurely breakfast continue on your journey to Ella.

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Ella

Day 9 - ELLA

Today you will spend the day visiting the following historical religious sites

One would not expect that off Bandarawela, be found what is believed to be the world’s oldest surviving wooden bridge, dating back to the 1600’s. The banisters and railing supported by eleven pairs of elegantly carved pillars support the Bogoda Bridge built across the Gallanda Oya, an ancient route that linked Badulla and Kandy. The entire bridge was constructed from wood, including the nails used as fixing material. The roof tiles depict the influence of the Kingdom of Kandy.

The Bogoda Raja Maha Vihara beside the bridge however, has a much longer history dating back to the 1st century BC, during the Anuradhapura period. Built on the instruction of King Valagamba, the stone inscription by the temple in Brahmin scripture, says the temple was donated to a priest. Inside the temple are elaborate paintings bearing a resemblance to the Kandyan era.

Kind Valagamba is believed to have used this temple cave complex, nestling in a valley off Bandarawela, as his sanctuary. A lovely ornamental gateway at the temple leads you to a 38ft image of Lord Buddha sculptured from a rock. Paintings belonging to the Kandyan era depicting various folktales (Jataka stories) are to be found.
One of the sixteen most venerated religious places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Its shrine was built in 4th century AD and is believed to house a lock of hair and sweat turned to pearls of Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha blessed this site in person during one of his three visits to Sri Lanka. It is located in the heart of Badulla town

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Ella

Day 10 - ELLA TO TISSAMAHARAMA

You will have an early start to Tissamaharama, visiting en route Buduruvagala, Maligawila and Dambegoda. (Approx. 5 Hrs drive)

Dating back to the 10th century AD off Wellawaya, this complex and its collection of statues, seven in all, is believed to belong to the Mahayana school of thought. The streak of orange that’s left on the statue of Lord Buddha, suggests the statues were once brightly coloured. To the right of the colossal Buddha statue is thought to be the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, a Buddhist mythological figure and to the left, his consort Tara, the female figure in a thrice-bent posture, painted in white.

At Maligawila, located about 15 km to the south of Monaragala, is the site of several important archeological pieces, including its famous free-standing 11.5m (36ft) colossal Buddha statue dating back to the 7th century. Carved out of a single piece of crystalline limestone, it is considered to be the world's tallest free standing Buddha figure. The statue was destroyed and restored in 1990.

1km from Maligawila is Dambegoda, the location of a 2nd statue of Buddha, thought to be the Maithree Natha Bodhisattva also identified as the Avalokithesvara Bodhisattva (a divine being who chooses to reside on the human plane to help ordinary people attain salvation).

Evening at leisure! Overnight in Tissamaharama

Day 11 - TISSAMAHARA TO COLOMBO

After a leisurely breakfast head towards Dickwella (0000 hours) to the Wewurukannala Temple.

is most famous for its gargantuan-seated Buddha statue. The temple is divided into 3 segments, the oldest dating back to the rule of King Rajadhi from 1782 to 1798 with a modest size structure of the Buddha. The 2nd element constructed in the 1960’s when a penchant for larger-than-life roadside attractions took the world by storm. At a height of 160ft the seated Buddha, literally and figuratively rises above the quagmires of earthly life. At its most extraordinary, is its 3rd element; in order to meet the Big Buddha up close, visitors must first navigate The Tunnel of Hell. In the tunnel, life-sized models illustrate the outcome of succumbing to earthly temptations lining the path to enlightenment. It is Buddhist Hell made tangible played out through cartoonish horror.

Continue along the coast or take the Southern Expressway to Colombo (0500 hours)

Overnight in Colombo

Day 12 - COLOMBO

Morning at leisure with an option of a city tour of Colombo!

Sri Lanka’s dynamic capital seems totally out of proportion with the rest of the country, stretching for 50km along the island’s western seaboard in a long and formless urban straggle that is now home to around 3 million people. Connected with the new expressway from the international airport in just 20 minutes, the cities sprawling layout and crowded streets during peak hours, make it difficult to get to grips with.

The city’s impressible commercial and cultural life continues apace and offers plenty of atmosphere and quirky character; a heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern chic. Shiny office blocks rub shoulders with tumbledown local cafes and shops, while serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand next to the multi-coloured towers of Hindu temples – all evidence of the rich stew of races and religions that have gone into the making of this surprisingly cosmopolitan city. The rebuilt and revitalized Pettah, the Fort area and Dutch Hospital, Independence Square and the Victoria Park give the place a uniquely forward-thinking and outward-looking character quite unlike anywhere else in the island.

And for sheer adrenaline, a walk through the crowded bazaars of the Pettah or a high speed tuk-tuk ride amid the kamikaze traffic of the Galle Road have no rival anywhere else in the country.

In the context of Sri Lanka’s 2500-year-old recorded history, Colombo is a relative upstart. Its origin is a flourishing trading settlement from the 8th century onwards in Kelaniya, the site of the famous Buddhist temple. The nearby settlement of Kotte served as the Capital of the island’s main Sinhalese lowland kingdom from the 14th to 16th centuries. The Portuguese who arrived in 1518 constructed the Fort that subsequently formed the nucleus of modern Colombo and in 1597 attacked and destroyed both Kelaniya and Kotte. The Dutch ousted the Portuguese and remained in control for over 150 years rebuilding the fort, reclaiming land from the swampy delta using the system of canals that survive to this day and creating spacious new tree-lined suburbs. In 1796, Colombo fell to the British. The city was made capital of Ceylon, while new roads and rail links with Kandy further enhanced the city’s burgeoning prosperity. With the construction of the new harbor, Colombo established itself as one of the great entrepots of Asia and acquired the sobriquet the ‘Charing Cross of the East’, thanks to its location at the crossroads of Indian Ocean trade.

Visit the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara in the afternoon.

7km from Colombo, the temple is considered to be one of the most revered historic sites for the Buddhists in the orient. Lord Buddha is said to have visited this sacred site in the eighth year following his enlightenment, which was his third and last visit to Sri Lanka. This beautiful shrine located on the banks of the Kelani River presents one of the most panoramic views of its tranquil and calm surroundings.

Reference to the temple dates back to the 3rd century. The temple and the dagoba, were built in the 5th Century BC on the place the Buddha preached his sermons. The Portuguese destroyed the earlier structures and under Dutch rule in 1780, the temple was rebuilt. In 1888, the task of renovating the temple was undertaken and its deteriorated paintings and painting were restored.

Overnight in Colombo

Day 13 - DEPARTURE

Depending on your time of departure, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward destination.

Safe journey!

Price includes

  • Accommodation at star category hotels
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking Chauffeur Guide
  • Local government taxes & service charges
  • Meals: Breakfast at Hotels
  • Price excludes

  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Airfare
  • Airport taxes
  • Camera & video permits at the Cultural sites
  • Any expenses of a personal nature
  • Tips and porterage
  • Toll Fees
  • All entrance fees to attractions
  • Lunch & Dinner on Tour


  • Highlights

  • Anuradhapura Tour
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Mihintale
  • Polonnaruwa Cultural Tour
  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Matale Spice Garden
  • Kandy City Tour
  • Nuwara Eliya City Tour
  • Ella
  • Adam's Peak
  • Kelaniya Temple
  • Colombo City Tour

  • Optional Tours

  • Hot Air Balloon Rides
  • Temple of the Tooth Relic
  • Royal Botanical Garden
  • 3 Temple Loop
  • Monks Alms Giving Ceremony
  • Spice Identification Contest
  • Kandy Cultural Show
  • Kandy Architectural Walking Tour
  • Through the Eyes of an Artist
  • Local Culinary Programs
  • Jewellery Making Programs
  • Kandyan Traditional Clothing Dress-up
  • Brass Making Educational Program
  • Historical Building Tour of Nuwara Eliya
  • Trekking from Pattipola to Ohiya

  • Your Route