Updated: Aug 13, 2022
Chilaw – Wilpattu – Anuradhapura -Polonnaruwa – Sigiriya – Kandy – Pinnawala (5Days/ 4Nights)
Day 01 – Arrival at Colombo airport – Chilaw – Puttalam – Wilpattu
Munneswaram Kovil Temple – Chilaw
Munneswaram temple (Sinhala: මුන්නේශ්වරම් කෝවිල, Tamil: முன்னேசுவரம் கோயில்) is an important regional Hindu temple complex in Sri Lanka. It has been in existence at least since 1000 CE although myths surrounding the temple associate it with the popular Indian epic Ramayana, and its legendary hero-king Rama. The temple is one of the ancient Pancha Ishwarams dedicated to Shiva in the region.
The temple complex is a collection of five temples, including a Buddhist temple. The central temple dedicated to Shiva (Siva) is the most prestigious and biggest, and is popular amongst Hindus. The other temples are dedicated to Ganesha, Aiyanar and Kali. The Kali temple is also popular with Buddhists, who frequent the complex. Post-19th century, most of the devotees of all temples in the complex belong to the majority Sinhala Buddhist ethnic group; the temples, excluding the Ayyanayake and the Buddhist temple, are administered by families belonging to the minority Hindu Tamils.
The main festivals celebrated at the temple include Navarathri and Sivarathri. The former is a nine-day long festival in honors of the presiding Goddess, while the latter is an overnight observation in honors of Lord Shiva. In addition to these two Hindu festivals, the temple has a festival of its own, the Munneswaram festival, a four-week-long event attended by Hindus and Buddhists.
Salt Field – Puttalam
Ever wondered where salt is made? Take an air taxi Sri Lanka and observe the white salt fields of Puttalam from high above. Finding Sri Lanka Sea planes for the task is not a hard chore as Cinnamon Air offers a wide array of choices to choose from. The brilliant blue waters speckled with snow white mounds of salt is indeed a fabulous sight to witness which also holds valuable bird watching opportunities for the curious. Puttalam while sporting a picturesque landscape is a breeding ground for exotic wildlife as the wetlands surrounding the Puttalam Lagoon are known to be extremely conducive habitats for local and migrating species of birds alike.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is world-renowned for its leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. The best time to visit the 'land of the lakes', or Wilpattu National Park, is May to early September during the drought, when animals are drawn out to their waterholes. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, jackals, sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer Wild Pig, Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Mugger Crocodiles.
Stay in Wilpattu
Day 02 – Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, is well-known for its ancient ruins. This historic city is now a world heritage site and home to a few of the majestic Buddhist temples whose history dates back to several years. The architectural grandeur, the religious significance of these historic temples in Anuradhapura, will make your visit worth it. These eight places are comprised of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, Mirisaweti Stupa, Abhayagiri Stupa, Jetavanaramaya, and Lankaramaya.One of these was established by Anuradha, a minister of King Vijaya, on the banks of a stream called Kolon and was named Anuradhagama. In 377 BC, King Pandukabhaya, grandson of King Panduvasudeva (437–367 BC) made it his capital and developed the city.
Avukana Buddha Statue
The Avukana statue is widely believed to have been constructed in the 5th century during the reign of King Dhatusena and under his orders. However, another theory is that it was done by an individual named Barana. The Avukana statue is located in the village of Avukana (also spelled Aukana) near Kekirawa. It is close to the Kala Wewa reservoir, and faces it. It was carved out of a large granite rock face, but is not completely separated. A narrow strip of rock has been left at the back of the statue, connecting it to the rock face and supporting it. However, the pedestal on which the Buddha stands, which is carved in the form of a lotus flower, was carved separately and positioned under the statue. The statue alone is 38 feet 10 inches (11.84 m) in height, and with the pedestal the total height of the Avukana statue reaches 42 feet (13 m). The statue had been located within a large image house or shrine, of which parts of the walls still remain. The structure was made of brick and stone, and was 74 feet (23 m) long and 63 feet (19 m) wide.
Moving to Polonnaruwa & Stay Night in Polonnaruwa
Day 03 – Polonnaruwa – Minneriya
A vaṭadāge (Sinhala: වටදාගෙ) is a type of Buddhist structure found in Sri Lanka. It also known as a dage, thupagara and a cetiyagara. Although it may have had some Indian influence, it is a structure that is more or less unique to the architecture of ancient Sri Lanka. Vatadages were built around small stupas for their protection, which often enshrined a relic or were built on hallowed ground. Circular in shape, they were commonly built of stone and brick and adorned with elaborate stone carvings. Vatadages may have also had a wooden roof, supported by a number of stone columns arranged in several concentric rows.
Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara
It was fashioned in the 12th century by Parakramabahu I. The central feature of the temple is four rock relief statues of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granitic (granite gneiss) rock. The images consist of a large seated figure, another smaller seated figure inside an artificial cavern, a standing figure and a reclining figure. These are considered to be some of the best examples of ancient Sinhalese sculpting and carving arts, and have made the Gal Vihara the most visited monument at Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa Audience Hall
Parakramabahu's Audience Hall is a classic example of the masonry of the period. At the entrance there is a moonstone and a flight of steps with makara figures. Above the makara figures there are beautiful figures of lions. It is recorded that the king had this audience hall specifically designed for his advisers and legal draftsman. In designing this building, the architect broke with tradition, incorporating features (such as balustrades and moonstones) that were previously reserved for monasteries.
Polonnaruwa Rankot Vehera
Rankoth Vehera is structure made entirely of brick, and has a base diameter of 550 feet (170 m) and a height of 108 feet (33 m). However, the original shape of the stupa, particularly its upper portion, has been changed during renovation work carried out by later rulers and it is estimated that the original height of Rankoth Vehera may have been almost 200 feet (61 m). Despite this, it remains the largest stupa in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, and the fourth largest stupa in the country. The stupa has four large Vahalkadas, a structure used for offering flowers and also to support the weight of a stupa. These are also made of brick. The stupa is located in the center of a large square terrace, which is also surrounded by a brick wall. The terrace has four entrances oriented to the four cardinal points, with sand paths leading to them. A stone inscription near one of the entrances mention that King Nissanka Malla observed and supervised the construction of the stupa from there. It is also mentioned that he worshiped the stupa from a small platform, which is located in a corner of the terrace.
Minneriya National Park
This national park is one of the best places in the country to see wild elephants, which are often present in huge numbers. Dominated by the ancient Minneriya Wewa, the park has plenty of scrub, forest and wetlands in its 88.9 sq km to also provide shelter for toque macaques, sambar deer, buffalo, crocodiles and leopards (the latter are very rarely seen, however).
The dry season, from April to October, is reckoned to be the best time to visit (as by then water in the tank has dried up, exposing grasses and shoots to grazing animals). Elephants, which can number 200 or more, come to feed and bathe during what is known as ‘the Gathering’; and flocks of birds, such as little cormorants, painted storks, herons and large pelicans all fish in the shallow waters. However, it's also possible to see large numbers of elephants here at other times of year, too; we saw over 100 in February when we visited.
The park entrance is on the Habarana–Polonnaruwa Rd. A visitor centre near the entrance sells tickets and has a few exhibits about the park’s natural history. The initial 40-minute drive (along a poor dirt road) into the heart of the park is through dense forest, where wildlife sightings are rare. But then the landscape opens up dramatically, and the views across the tank are superb. Early mornings are generally best for birds and late afternoon for elephants
Stay Night in Minneriya
Day 04 – Sigiriya – Dambulla – Kandy
Sigiriya or Pidurangala
Sigiriya is famous for its palace ruins on top of a massive 200-meter-high rock surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs and other structures. The rock itself is a lava plug left over from an ancient long extinct volcano. One of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is renowned for its 5th century pre-Christian frescoes. It has also been declared by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the World. Sigiriya was built by the fifth-century king Kashyapa I, who ruled the native Sinhalese dynasty, the Moriya. The imposing fortress was the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom until Kashyapa was defeated in A.D. 495. (Watch: An ancient palatial fortress overlooks this barren desert in Israel.) It's 1270 steps. Not all in one go. It is a medium to difficult climb as you need to consider heat and humidity. But ages up to 70 will be fine. The abandoned site of Sigiriya wasn't found until 1831. British Army Major Jonathan Forbes rediscovered Sigiriya in 1831. He came across the site during a horseback ride.The climb all the way to the top can take between 1.5 hours and 3 hours – depending on your fitness, how crowded the place is and how many pictures you are shooting. As the view from the top is quite stunning and you might need some time to catch your breath, I'd rather err on the longer side.
Pidurangala Rock is a 200m tall rock formation, located right next to the famous Sigiriya Fortress. Sigiriya is an ancient fortress located at the top of a massive column of rock. Pidurangala also has a Buddhist temple at its entrance, as well as a reclining Buddha half way up the rock, but nothing as big as Sigiriya. Tourists visit Pidurangala more for the hiking and nature element, whilst Sigiriya is more for culture and history lovers.
Dambulla Golden Cave Temple
A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 m2 ) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues. There are 364 steps in the Dambulla cave. Cave Temples. The idea of constructing Buddhist temples by hollowing out rock faces was brought to China from Central Asia, where monuments of this sort had been constructed for centuries. Over the years, more and more caves would be excavated and decorated as pious acts on the part of monks and artists.
Moving to Kandy
Culture Show in Kandy
The Kandy Lake Club Cultural Dance Show is a stimulating Sri Lankan Arts, Dance and Cultural Heritage Show that is a must see for any visitor who visits the historic city of Kandy. The Kandy Lake Club Dance started in 1982 with the view of having a cultural dance performance bringing together all Sri Lankan dance types to one platform. It is the first Cultural Dance Show of its kind to be established in Sri Lanka. It has since become a tourist attraction for many people visiting the country and keen on a glimpse of its rich cultural heritage. Hence it has been performing continuously for the last 35 years. During the show, you will see several dances which depict the graceful movements of birds and animals, which trace their origins back to the ancient ritual known as the Kohomba Kapkariya, as well as energetic acrobatic performances where the men perform a series of leaping pirouettes and stunts such as plate-spinning and the dramatic ‘fire walk’ which ends the show.
Stay Night in Kandy
Day 05 – Kandy – Negombo
Tooth Relic Temple
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha (Sri Dalada Maligawa), which houses the most important Relic of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. A gold canopy was erected some years ago over the roof of the shrine room where it is placed. After the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha, the tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga and smuggled to the island by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha on the instructions of her father King Guha Siva.
Kandy View Point
Wood carving, Batik & Silk Factory
Elephant Orphanage Pinnawala
En-route visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawela.The orphanage was created to protect abandoned and orphaned elephants. It has now grown into the most popular elephant attraction in the country and with good reason, for nowhere else except at Pageants (processions) are you likely to see so many elephants at close quarters. The elephants are controlled by their mahouts (keepers) who ensure they are fed at the right times and don’t endanger anyone but otherwise the elephants roam freely around the sanctuary area.
There are many elephants in residence from babies to young adults. Among the attractions, you will be able to witness elephants being led to a nearby river for bathing. You could also see the feeding of the baby elephants which is the highlight of the visit.
Bathing at river – 10.00am – 12.00pm
02.00pm – 4.00pm
Fruit Feeding - 9.00am – 9.45am
12.00p.m – 1.45pm
Moving to Negombo
Transfer to Airport for departure flight.
• Accommodation on sharing a double/twin/triple room at the hotels specified in hotel collection.
• Include Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
• Transport in a Private Vehicle, inclusive of all Chauffeur accommodation, cost of fuel, parking & highway tolls.
• Private Transport with airport transfers in an Air-Conditioned Vehicle throughout the tour
• Service of an English-Speaking Chauffeur Guide.
• Entry Visa Fees, please visit www.eta.gov.lk for more details
• International / Domestic Airfare.
• Any expenses of personal nature.
• Tips & Portages.