When in Colombo, visit the national museum if you want to understand the country’s history. Chill at the Galle Face Promenade with your loved one in the evening, or just roam the street bazaar at Pettah and mingle with the locals.
Climatically speaking, the driest (and best) seasons in Sri Lanka are from December to March for the west coast, the south coast and the Hill Country, and from April to September for the ancient cities region and the east coast.
December through March are also the months when most foreign tourists visit, the majority of them escaping the European winter. During the Christmas to New Year holiday season, in particular, accommodation anywhere on the island can be tight due to the huge influx of foreign visitors.
July/August is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera, the 10-day festival honoring the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, and also the time for the Kataragama festival in the South. In both towns accommodation just before, during and immediately after the festivals is very difficult to come by, and rates usually double or treble. Be sure to book rooms well in advance.
Sri Lanka’s climate means that it is always the ‘right’ beach season somewhere on the coast. The weather doesn’t follow strict rules, though – it often seems to be raining where it should be sunny, and sunny where it should be raining. Rainfall tends to be emphatic – streets can become flooded in what seems like only minutes.
Out-of-season travel has its advantages – not only do the crowds go away but many air fares and accommodation prices drop right down. Nor does it rain all the time during the low season.
DAY WISE ITINERARY
Day 1: Arrival in Colombo
Meals: Not applicable
On reaching the Colombo International Airport, meet our representative and move on to Sigiriya. En route, visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which is home to about 60 elephants. Some of them are baby elephants that were found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. In Sigiriya, try climbing the Lion Rock, a 5th century rock fortress built by King Kashyapa, and a World Heritage Site. It is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres above the scrub jungle. Also witness the world-renowned frescoes of the 'Heavenly Maidens' of Sigiriya. These are located in a sheltered pocket of the rock and are accessible by a spiral stairway. Return to your hotel after your tour for an overnight stay.
Day 2: Dambulla | Temple Visit
After breakfast, visit Dambulla Temple. King Walagambahu donated this temple to Buddhist monks in the 1st century BC. Dambulla is a World Heritage Site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka's cave Temples. The five caves with over 2000 square metres of painted walls including the ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. These caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha, the largest of them being a colossal figure carved out of a rock spanning 14 metres. After your temple visit, return to your hotel.
Day 3: Sigriya - Kandy (Sightseeing tour)
After breakfast, drive off to Kandy. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan Kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendour and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Also drive around the Kandy Lake. It was built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Then, visit the Kandy town and Bazaar, the arts & crafts center, gem museum, as well as a lapidary. In the evening, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Afterwards, enjoy a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing. Finally, return to your hotel for a comfortable overnight stay.
Day 4: Kandy - Nuwara Eliya (Sightseeing tour)
After breakfast, transfer to Nuwara Eliya. En route, visit a tea plantation and a tea factory, where some of the best tea in the world is produced. Here, you can see how tea is manufactured and graded. You can also see how tea is graded. On completion of the tour, proceed to Nuwara Eliya, which, because of its invigorating mountain climate and scenery, is Sri Lanka's most popular hill resort. Sri Lanka's highest mountain Pidurutalagala (8282 feet) is also located here. Nuwara-Eliya also has one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in South Asia. Spend the night in the comfort of your hotel room.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya - Beruwala
After breakfast, transfer to Beruwala. After reaching Beruwala, spend the day at your leisure. Have a comfortable overnight stay in your hotel.
Day 6: Departure from Srilanka
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then check out, transfer to the airport. Fly back home with wonderful memories of an amazing trip!
Places to Visit:
Ancient yet modern, Colombo is more than just Sri Lanka's capital city. Visit the 17th century Colombo Dutch Museum for an incredible insight into the early Dutch trade in the city. The 100 year old red and blue-striped Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque in Pettah, is a bizarre sight amidst the main bazaar. The oldest Hindu temple in the city, The Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam, is another crowd puller for foreign tourists who cannot help but revel in the beauty of Hindu art styles.
The old St Peter's Church at Wolfendahl Street & Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara are frequented by Christians and Buddhists respectively.
The only surviving for in Colombo, the Colombo fort serves as a prison today. The Presidential Secretariat, the 17th century Grand Oriental Hotel and the Lighthouse Clock Tower are sights you cannot miss. The National Museum has a good collection of reproduced 19th century English paintings of Sri Lanka and antique cultural masks.
If you're a peace-hunter, The Dehiwala Zoo, affluent and verdant Cinnamon Gardens, and Viharamahadevu Park, which is Colombo's biggest park, are some places where your search will end.
Chants from the temples and commercial activities at the City Centre and Main Market, greet you in Kandy. Make a beeline to Dalada Maligawa, significant for the Buddha tooth that lies under a golden canopy. It is shown to the public once in six years and at other times, it lies hidden in a casket. The 14th century temple trinity-Gadaladeniya Temple, Embekke Temple and Lanka Tilaka Temple - are examples of Indo-Lankan fusion architecture. The stone carvings, murals, paintings and sculptures that adorn the temple walls are a sight to behold. It is common to see the unusual flowers of the cannonball trees. Buddha is believed to have passed away under a cannonball tree by some people. Cannonball fruits are so heavy that they might actually kill you if they fall on your head.
Kandy Lake lies at the foot of these temples. Fishing and swimming are forbidden here. Cranes, Cormorants, Pelicans and turtles crowd the lake. A walk around the Kandy Lake shore in the evening is a favourite pastime. Sit on a bench put on the bank and watch the sunset. Enjoy the mysterious fragrance wafting from the hills behind.
Catch a tuk tuk to Bahirawakanda Temple. It has a huge Buddha statue that can be viewed from any point in Kandy. It used to be a gnome temple with a history of human sacrifice. The Bahirawa Mountain is also good for a trek. Swap the outdoors for the splendour of Kandyan royal history at the old Royal Palace. Priceless weaponry, paintings and carved figures of the Kandyan era are displayed here. The Royal Botanical Gardens has treasures of a different kind. There are many varieties of orchids including the extraordinary Blue Vanda orchid. As you trod along shrubs and trees in Kandy, pause to admire the queer Tacca or bat flowers.
There are many vegetable farms and waterfalls as you approach Nuwara Eliya. Travelling up in an observation coach from Colombo or Kandy is recommended for some fabulous views.
The hill station is well known for its tea plantations and chilly weather. The bungalows with their rose gardens, the names of the roads, and quaint English signs outside shops makes you feel like you are in England. The pink Post Office built by the British is a real beauty. The Victoria Park, an English style garden, can surprise you with a glimpse of a plump Kashmir Flycatcher or a queer Scaly Thrush. Sentinel, Kohlmeise, Scaly-breasted Munia, Ashy Prinia can also be sighted around the hills.
Birds love to hang around the Hakgala Botanical Gardens around 10 km from Nuwara Eliya. The Hakgala Rock is said to be one of the places where Sita was held captive by Ravana (from the Hindu epic, Ramayana). There is a small temple Seetha Kovil which is also said to be a place where Sita was imprisoned.
Another patch of peace is Lake Gregory. Go boating or fishing. A little away from the lake is the Galway's Land Bird Sanctuary that was set up in the 1930s. While in Nuwara Eliya a visit to Horton Plains National Park is almost a necessity. The mountains are painted green with tropical trees and grasslands. There are Leopards, Wild Boars, Purple-faced Lungurs and Sambar Deer that live in this reserve. You might even spot a Sri Lanka White Eye or a Yellow-eared Bulbul.
The white frothy Baker Falls and the rather dramatic sounding World's End are two popular locations in the Park. The World's End is a sheer drop of 2625 ft and around it are Kirigalpotta and Totapola, two of the highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The highest is Pidurutalagala, over 8000 ft. The best time to visit the park is at the crack of dawn before mists roll in and hide the views.
There are quite a few waterfalls en route to Nuwara Eliya. The Ramboda Waterfalls is on the road from Gampola and St Clare's Waterfalls is near Hatton. Devon Falls is yet another cascade near Nuwara Eliya. Stop by a tea shop for some piping hot Ceylon tea after enjoying the falls.
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