Sri Lanka is one of Howzat Travel’s favourite destinations… the people are friendly and welcoming, the food is fantastic and the culture is fascinating – and there is a host of options to keep travellers entertained on free days. The buzz after a day at leisure in Sri Lanka is something really special, with everyone sharing stories of brand new experiences they have had that day. The scenery is breathtaking and the country is brimming with culture, so make sure you make the most of your trip with this range of sightseeing options…
Anuradhapura was the first capital and undoubtedly the grandest city of the ancient Sri Lanka, It is the home of two World Heritage sites. Many places of historical and archaeological interest can be visited. Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo-Tree) was brought as a sapling of the tree under which Prince Siddhartha attained to enlightenment. It is over 2,200 years old and is the oldest historically documented tree in the world. At Brazen Palace (2nd century B.C), the 1600 stone columns you see are all that is left of a magnificent multi-storied residence for monks. Ruwanweliseya (2nd century B.C) is the most famous of all the Dagobas. It originally depicted the perfect ‘bubble shape” that modern restoration has not been able to accurately reproduce. Samadhi’ Buddha statue (4th century AD) is one of the most famous statues, depicting the Buddha in a state of ‘Samadhi’ or deep meditation. Isurumuniya rock temple (3rd century B.C) is well known for its rock carvings of ‘The Lovers’. Kuttam Pokuna – twin ponds (6th century AD) was used by the Buddhist monks as a bathing pool. Thuparama Dagoba (3rd century B.C) is the oldest Dagoba in the island, which enshrines the right collarbone of the Buddha.
Price: £46 per person
Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress which is a world heritage site, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached – Visit Polonnaruwa which was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka, built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, and which is a world heritage site – Here you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya – where four splendid statues of the Buddha in the ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and ‘Recumbent’ postures carved out of rock can be seen – the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, king Parakramabahu’s statue, and the Parakrama Samudraya lake built by King Parakramabahu the great. There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Price: £76 per person
Enjoy a Sri Lankan village experience where a walk along the village path will bring you to a “Wewa” typical village lake. The village homes are totally different to the built up urban areas of Sri Lanka. The small houses are surrounded by green woods on the edge of which their home gardens extend. It is common to spot the watch huts in the fields from which the men sit up on the lookout for wild Elephants and Wild Boar during the night.
Cross the lake by canoe observing the rich birdlife. Once we reach the farm, the lady of the house will gladly demonstrate her cooking abilities using a traditional hearth. You can also participate, if you wish, in this experience before enjoying her delicious meal.
Price: £36 per person
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and Bazaar, the arts & crafts centre and a gem museum and a lapidary. In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and thereafter witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Price: £30 per person
Day excursion to Nuwara Eliya en route visit a Tea Plantation and Factory – On arrival at Nuwara Eliya proceed on a sightseeing tour driving through ‘Little England’.
Price: £25 per person
Drive through the Commercial area of the “Fort” so named, because both the Portuguese and Dutch had a Fort at this point. Drive passed “Pettah” – a noisy Oriental bazaar with a hotchpotch of Humanity, ancient vehicles, bargains, mosques & temples. Visit Hindu temple & drive pass Jumi-UL Alfar Jumma Mosque, Continue the tour through the Wolvendaal Dutch Church, Hultsdorf Law courts, to the residential area of Cinnamon Gardens and on to the Independence Square and Bandaranayke Memorial International Conference Hall also visiting Gangaramaya Temple.
Price: £20 per person