Sri Lanka holds many secrets that the world is just beginning to discover and appreciate. It’s not just a place to visit but to experience on every sensual and intellectual level and each person will be rewarded accordingly.
|PICKUP/DROP OFF LOCATION||Airport, Hotel or Private Residence|
|DURATION||14 Nights / 15 Days|
AIRPORT / COLOMBO
Arrival, welcome by a representative of TC Holidays and transfer to Hotel in Negombo.
Afternoon undertake a City Tour including “Lellama” the Fishing Harbor from where the Fishing Travelers take off, Retail Fish Market a fishing Village, a Catholic Church, Hindu Kovil etc….
Negombo is an ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the country’s main international airport and also to the city of Colombo. The 100 km long canal network built by the Dutch running through the city is still in use, and outrigger canoes and modern water-craft ply this route daily. Remnants of colonization include the Dutch fort built in 1672, as well as centuries-old Portuguese and Dutch houses, administrative buildings, churches and the ceiling frescoes of St. Mary’s Cathedral. This is also one of the strongholds of the catholic community of Sri Lanka and quietly correctly considered as the “Little Rome”, located along the picturesque Negombo lagoon, along which hundreds of fishing boats and catamarans could be seen most of the time. The Town is dotted with several churches, some dating from the earliest colonial times. Sightseeing in Negombo includes the remains of the Old Dutch Fortress from 1678, the Dutch Canal constructed for the transportation of Cinnamon, St. Mary’s Church and the Old Dutch Cemetery, and naturally, the Negombo Fish Market –more famously known as the “Lellama”, the country’s second-largest fish market at the north end of the town’s lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, which give tourists a chance to meet the area’s fishermen, buy fish and even organize fishing trips on the colourful boats into the lagoon and the ocean beyond.
NEGOMBO / PINNAWALA / SIGIRIYA
After breakfast leave for Sigiriya via Pinnawala.
En route visit the Elephant Orphanage to see the world’s largest herd of domestic Elephants including babies who are still being fed by bottle thrice a day and any other place of interest
Located on the banks of Maha Oya , claimed as the only place in the entire planet earth where one can see such a large herd of captive elephants , established in 1975 as an effort towards education and conservation of scientific captive breeding , it provides shelter to young elephants who find themselves abandoned , displaced or lost from their natural habitats due to various reasons.
En-route visit a Batik Making Factory and watch village girls turn out beautiful batiks with colourful designs.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Sigiriya.
After breakfast leave for World Heritage listed Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Dambulla Rock Temple
This legendary citadel in the sky is a massive rock which tells a tale of power, intrigue and tragedy. Its founder, King Kasyapa, who murdered his father, seized the throne from his brother, the rightful heir, then fled to the 182 meter high rock and built his palace there, safe from his enemies. Today, Sigiriya is famous for its “mirror wall” , so called because of its highly polished surface and its galleries with their pockets of frescoes; paintings of lovely maidens done in brilliant tempera on the walls.
Also a World Heritage listed site, Dambulla is a collection of rock cave temples dating back to the 1st Century B.C., Dambulla Rock is 152 meters in height with a colossal recumbent figure of the Buddha, 14 meters in length in its largest cave. The paintings on the ceilings of the caves and the many carvings depict great events in the life of the Buddha and landmarks in the history of the Sinhala people.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Sigiriya.
After breakfast leave for Anuradhapura
A World Heritage site, the city which is one of the principal shrines of Buddhism was a political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years and was abandoned after an invasion from India in 993AD. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, this splendid site, with its magnificent dagobas, palaces, monasteries and monuments is accessible once again. It is the location of the Shri Maha Bodhi temple which contains a sapling from the tree Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. It is the oldest recorded tree in the world and Sri Lanka’s second most sacred Buddhist shrine.
Located on a mountain peak near Anuradhapura, it is believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in 247BC. The complex is a series of beautiful shrines, stupas and caves strung out across wooded hills, usually busy with crowds of devout, white robed pilgrims. Climb to the summit using 1840 granite steps built by stone artisans many centuries ago. The adjoining Mihintale National Park was the first wildlife sanctuary in the world.
Dinner and overnight in Anuradhapura
After breakfast leave for Jaffna
Slowly but surely re-emerging as a bastion of Hindu tradition, art and creative culture, Jaffna is once again welcoming visitors and looking to rise again. It’s an intriguing and unimposing place that’s a thoroughly rewarding place to invest a few days discovering Sri Lankan Tamil culture. As refugees and exiles return to rebuild the city after the civil war which ended in 2009, confidence and finance is returning. The city is surprisingly green and leafy, with attractive palm-shaded colonial-era suburbs, a colonial-era Dutch fort and beautiful temples and churches. You’ll appreciate Jaffna for its insights into the Tamil people and their struggle than for any specific points of interest. The city is also an ideal base for forays to the idyllic islands just to the west, and trips along the coastline and lagoons of the surrounding peninsula.
Visit the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple and watch the sun set over the lagoon from the walls of the newly restored Jaffna Fort.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a Hotel in Jaffna
After breakfast, take a tour of the Jaffna Peninsula and the islands off Jaffna.
Starting out at Point Pedro and the mini desert at Manalkadu, the sandy dunes are in stark contrast to the lush vegetation and fine agricultural soil which made Jaffna such a rich region in time gone by. Amidst the sand dunes, lying half buried, is the ruin of St Anthony’s Church. From there we drive along the northern tip of Sri Lanka to Keerimalai Springs and Naguleswaram Temple.
Almost in the center of the peninsular is the important historical site of Kandarodai. This is a fascinating archaeological site with the remains of almost 50 small stupas, built close together along with other buildings, relic houses and so on. The origins of the site are disputed but certainly show the massive significance of the Jaffna Peninsula in ancient times. The countryside around the site has many classic examples of the unique Jaffna cultivation system – the constant irrigation of the ditches in the fields making best use of the superlative quality of the ground water in these parts.
From here you visit the ancient Hindu temple at Maviddapuram and then take a relaxing dip in the sea at Casuarina Beach, which though on Karaitivu island, is best reached from the west side of Jaffna Peninsula along the Ponnalai Causeway. Whilst on Karativu, you might want to visit the well preserved Dutch Fort at Hammenhiel.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Jaffna
After breakfast leave for Mannar
Cross the Jaffna lagoon on the newly built causeway and take the A-32 to Mannar.
Mannar is located on Mannar Island overlooking the Gulf of Mannar. It is home to the historic Ketheeswaram temple. The island is known for its baobab trees brought by Arab traders and for its fort, built by the Portuguese in 1560 and taken by the Dutch in 1658 and rebuilt; its ramparts and bastions are intact, though the interior is largely destroyed. Formerly the town was renowned as a center of pearl fishing, mentioned in the 2nd-century CE in ancient Greek writings. Visually, the modern town is dominated by its Hindu temples, mosques and churches. It is linked to the main island of Sri Lanka by a causeway. It has an area of about 50 square kilometres, mainly covered with vegetation and sand. Adam’s Bridge is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Mannar
After breakfast leave for Madhu and Trincomalee. Enroute visit the Giants Tank and the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu which Pope Francis visited in 2015.
The Giants Tank or Yoda Wewa in Mannar is one of the largest irrigation tanks in the island and was built by King Dhatusena (459-477). The tank is fed by an ancient canal, recently restored. Yoda Wewa is situated about 25km southeast of Mannar in a semi-arid zone. The water from this tank is fed into 162 smaller tanks downstream and irrigates about 11,000 hectares of paddy land.
Madhu is the site of Sri Lanka’s most hallowed Christian monument. The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Roman Catholic Marian shrine with a history of over 400 years, the site is considered as the holiest Catholic shrine in the island. It is a well-known place of devotion for both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics. Christianity in Sri Lanka is not well known before the 16th century although some local traditions claim that Saint Thomas the Apostle was active in the island. The Portuguese missionaries from India, especially under the authority of Saint Francis Xavier are known to have brought Roman Catholicism to the Kingdom of Jaffna, which comprised the northern peninsula of Sri Lanka. The newly converted Christians were persecuted by both the King of Jaffna and the Dutch. The Dutch invasion and the persecution of the Catholic Church in 1670, led to twenty Catholic families fleeing along with the statue of Mary to a safer locale of Madhu.
With one of the world’s finest natural harbours, Trincomalee has over the centuries been the focus of many south Asian and Colonial powers. Historically referred to as Gokanna it has been a sea port that has played a major role in maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka. The Bay of Trincomalee provides security to shipping and is openly accessible to all types of sea craft in all weathers. The city is renowned for housing a large Dutch fort and it is home to a major Sri Lankan naval and air force base.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Trincomalee
After breakfast, take a boat into the Bay of Bengal to watch blue whales, the largest creature on the planet, and dolphins playing on the surface.
In the afternoon, transfer to Passikudah.
Passikudah is a small coastal village situated in the east of Sri Lanka about 35km from Batticaloa. It is famous for its golden bay and clear, shallow waters in which you can wade 50m out to sea. It is a virgin beach and renowned throughout the country for its beauty. There are many good dive sights nearby and scuba diving equipment can be rented from the hotels Dive Club.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Passikudah
After breakfast visit Baron’s Hat and Batticaloa. In the afternoon, relax at the beach.
Known as ‘Thoppigala’ to the Sinhalese and ‘Kudumbimalai’ to the Tamil’s, this spectacular site is the highest peak between Polonnaruwa and the East Coast. Thoppigala is part of traditional Veddha hunting country due to the abundance of deer in the area. The main nature trail allows climbing to the peak which has a spectacular 360 degree view of the area. The visitors center is about a kilometre to the base of the rock, the first part is also passable for jeeps. There is a well-prepared path for climbers who wish to make the climb. At the very top are the remnants of a small ancient dagoba as well as a single tree called ‘Ehela’.
This historic city enjoys a spectacular position surrounded by serpentine lagoons with palm filtered sunlight dancing off the water. Fishermen in their flat bottom skiffs ply the waters of the lagoon, selling their catch by the main road which skirts the water. Historically, Batticaloa is best known as the site of the first landing (in 1602) by the Dutch in Sri Lanka, and as the place where they established their first lasting foothold on the island by seizing the local fort from the resident Portuguese in 1638. Many Muslims also settled in the area under the protection of the Kings of Kandy during the same period to escape Portuguese persecution elsewhere, mixing with the region’s largely Tamil population.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Passikudah
After breakfast leave for Uda Walawe. Enroute, visit the Magul Maha Vihare.
MAGUL MAHA VIHARE
Deep in the Lahugala Wildlife Sanctuary on the Siyambalanduwa – Pottuvil Road, lies the ruin of an ancient temple built in the 2nd century BC by King Kavan-Tissa. According to historical records, the temple was built on the exact location where the King married the Princess Vihara Maha Devi, the much beloved mother of the famous King Dutugamunu and King Sadda-Tissa. The entrance to the complex is through a solidly built stone wall about 3-4 feet in height that surrounded the entire area. The vihare which is in an attractive and peaceful forest setting, covered a very large area. It has the ruins of a royal palace, a Buddhist monastery, a bo-maluwa (enclosure of the sacred tree), stupas, ponds and the statue of a headless limestone Buddha. The foundation of the ‘magul maduwa’ where the kings wedding ceremony took place can still be seen in the premises.
UDA WALAWE NATIONAL PARK
The national park was created in 1972 to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. Uda Walawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Uda Walawe
After breakfast leave on a jeep safari of the national park.
Visit the Elephant Transit Home – where stranded calves are looked after with the objective of sending them back in to the jungles once they are capable of looking after themselves.
In the afternoon transfer to Kirinda, a beachside resort on Sri Lanka’s beautiful south-west coast. Here you will have the opportunity to relax on a beautiful sandy beach and enjoy a swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Kirinda
Bentota is a coastal town in Sri Lanka, located in the Southern Province. Bentota is situated on the southern bank of the Bentota River mouth. The name of the town is derived from a mythical story which claims a demon named ‘Bem’ ruled the ‘tota’ or river bank. Bentota is a tourist attraction, with a local airport (Bentota River Airport) and a handful and world-class hotels. It is a destination for water sports.
Bentota also delivers an ancient art of healing called Ayurveda. Bentota is famous for its toddy production, an alcoholic beverage made out of coconut nectar. It also has a turtle hatchery, located on Induruwa beach.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Bentota
After breakfast, relax at the beach or take a water tour of the Bentota river estuary mangroves. Visit the gardens at Brief, a wonderful estate owned by a former Sri Lankan architect and artist. The Brief Garden covers over 2 hectares, so you could easily while away a morning, admiring this beautiful property.
An ancient tradition found to this day in Sri Lanka is demon worship. Demons believed to be living in trees and mountains are classified as mythological, demonic, animal-spirit and human figures. According to Sinhalese thinking, the world is divided into several levels (lokha). The three main ones are: the world of the gods (deva lokha), the world of the humans (manussa lokha), and the underworld of demons (amanussa lokha). This entire cosmic order is under Buddha’s command. Because Buddha has achieved Nirvana, he is outside and above everyone else, including the gods. Demon masks are still used in healing rituals in Sri Lanka, particularly in the south of the island. The authentic masks and masking traditions of Sri Lanka are an extraordinary cultural phenomenon not found anywhere else in the world.
Visit the Demon Mask Museum at Ambalangoda and in the evening, walk to a nearby village for an authentic village-cooked meal. Attend a Devil Dancing ceremony and watch as a fire-walker walks across hot coals in bare feet.
Dinner & Overnight stay at a hotel in Bentota
After breakfast relax at the beach or visit the Moonstone Mines in Meetiyagoda
The mysterious gem, as captivating as the full moon gleaming in the night sky, is considered sacred and has been used in jewellery for centuries. The most sought after moonstones have a haunting blue sheen, an effect produced by the orthoclase feldspar, which is found almost exclusively in the gem mines of Sri Lanka. Here, you can even go down into the deep, narrow shafts from which the stones are mined and witness the process for yourself.
In the afternoon transfer to Colombo
Colombo is a fascinating city with a rich colonial heritage. It’s known not only for its comfortable blend and vibrant mixture of the past and the present but for a potpourri of races, religions and cultures. It is the commercial capital of the country, and is only 35 km south of the country’s main international airport. Undertake a half day City Tour including the Dutch Reformed Wolvendhal Church, Old Dutch Hospital, Old British Parliament Building, Colonial-style Town Hall, Cinnamon Gardens which is a prime residential area with colonial-style houses.
Depending on your departure time, you can have high tea at the Heritage Colonial-era Mount Lavinia Hotel just south of Colombo. The hotel, originally built as the home for British Governor Maitland is now one of the best hotels on the island. The poolside café gives you an excellent view of the Indian ocean and lines of ships waiting to enter Colombo harbor.
Transfer to the airport for departure.
END OF SERVICES – (All passengers should be at the departure lobby of the Airport before 03 hours of their departure flight)