Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Type: Spiritual Tour
Duration: 10 Days
Best Time to Travel: September – March
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Buddhism in Sri Lanka - Itinerary
Discover Sri Lanka’s rich Buddhist heritage dating back over 2,000 years. Explore the ancient ruins of Anuradhapura, once the country’s foremost religious centres and home of the Bo tree believed to be a sapling of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.
In Kandy, marvel at the beautiful Temple of the Sacred Tooth and witness an evening Pooja. At Dambulla visit the cave temples with their intricate Buddhist paintings and statues and the lesser known Degaldoruwa cave temple with its unique Kandyan wall paintings. Sri Lanka is rightly renowned for its hospitality and friendly people and this is in no small part down to the peoples’ Buddhist beliefs and attitude to life.
Colombo - Negombo
Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo where you will be met and welcomed by your Sri Lankan guide. Transfer by road to Negombo (approx. 90 minutes) and your hotel for checking-in. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Negombo – Anuradhapura
Depart Negombo for Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura, once the greatest religious centre of the ancient world, was Sri Lanka's first capital. Founded by King Pandukabhaya in 380 BC, it was until 1000 AD the seat of royalty for 119 successive Singhalese kings as well as thousands of monks in dozens of monasteries. Here is the holy Bo tree, which was grown from a sapling of the very tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.
Visit a number of important stupas or dagobas including Ruvanveliseya dating back to the 2nd century BC and the vast Jetawanarama, which at almost 71 metres high is the largest in Sri Lanka. We also visit the Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest in Sri Lanka and said to house the right collarbone of Lord Buddha.
After breakfast we visit the Aukana Buddha Statue dating back to the 5th century AD. It is situated 32 miles south-east of Anuradhapura via the great reservoir tank of Kalawewa. The statue rises to a height off 11.36 meters, making it the tallest ancient Buddha statue in Sri Lanka.
On our way back to Anuradhapura we stop at Mihintale which is believed to be the first place in Sri Lanka where Buddhism was first preached by the monk ‘Mahinda’, son of Asoka, Emperor of India, to King Devanampiyatissa more than 2,000 years ago.
The ruins and dagobas at Mihintale are relatively ordinary compared to those at Anuradhapura, but the setting – with rocky hills linked by beautiful old flights of stone steps (1,850 in total) shaded by frangipani trees – is gorgeous.
Return to Anuradhapura and the rest of the day is free at leisure.
Anuradhapura – Polonnaruwa - Habarana
Proceed to Polonnaruwa. The second capital (846 AD-1302 AD) of Sri Lanka is a well-preserved city of ancient dagobas, moonstones, beautiful parks, massive buildings and stunning statues. The majestic King's Council Chamber, the Lotus Bath, the Lanka Thilaka Viharaya, the Gal Viharaya (rock temple) and the statue of one of Polonnaruwa's great kings, Parakramabahu, are a few of this capital's memorable sights. The Sea of Parakrama - a vast 12th century man-made reservoir dominates the city.
Habarana - Sigiriya
Depart for Sigiriya Rock. Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres (660 ft) high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on top of the rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion.
Proceed to our hotel and relax for the remainder of the day.
Sigiriya – Kandy
From Sigiriya we drive to Kandy stopping en route at Dambulla Cave Temples, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Buddha’s life.
There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. We also explore Ibbankatuwa, a megalithic burial site, where over 10 graves have so far been excavated.
Continue on to Kandy and an afternoon guided tour of the city. A lively city, Kandy is surrounded by rolling hills and forest. The last capital of the Singhalese Kingdom, this hill country city is famed for its lake and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.
Visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth and witness the evening Pooja.
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth again to view the Audience Hall, the remnants of the Royal Palace and the Sacred Tooth Relic proper.
After breakfast we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. The Royal Botanical Gardens attracts 2 million visitors annually. It is near the Mahaweli River (the longest in Sri Lanka) and is renowned for its collection of orchids. The garden includes more than 4,000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. Attached to it is the National Herbarium of Sri Lanka.
Enjoy a traditional Kandyan Dance performance. Visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth and witness the evening Pooja.
Kandy - Colombo
After breakfast, depart Kandy for the capital Colombo. En route we stop at the Degaldoruwa Cave Temple. Constructed in 1771, the Degaldoruwa Temple is renowned for its unique wall paintings, considered to be the finest examples of Kandyan art. The cave was created where two massive rocks meet, one on top of the other and includes a shrine room and antechamber. As well as the rich collection of paintings, the temple includes an 18ft reclining Buddha, two seated and four standing Buddha statues.
The paintings themselves are based on the Jathaka Katha, with the Shrine Room ceiling depicting the Lord Buddha with the Mara and his forces, and the Mahi Kantawa Earth Goddess. We also stop at Balana Fort, built by the Kingdom of Kandy as an observation post.
Arrive in Colombo and check in to our hotel.
After breakfast enjoy a sightseeing tour of Colombo.
Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation gained independence in 1948.
Sights to visit include the Fort, the former British administrative centre and military garrison, Sea Street - the Goldsmith’s quarters in the heart of Pettah, the Bazaar area where there is also a Hindu Temple with elaborate stone carvings, the Kayman’s Gate with the Belfry at the original gate to enter the Fort, the Dutch Church of Wolfendhaal dating back to 1749, the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple, Davatagaha Mosque and Colombo Museum.
The remainder of the day is free.
Transfer to Bandaranaike International Airport for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by car/ minivan
- Experienced English speaking Sri Lanka tour guide
- Drinking water in car / minivan (1 litre)
- Daily breakfast
- Cultural dance show in Kandy
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- Sri Lanka visa
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities
- Negombo – Jetwing Sea Hotel (Deluxe Room)
- Anuradapura – Palm Garden Village Hotel (Deluxe Room)
- Habarana – Rock Forest Garden (Deluxe Room)
- Kandy – Cinnamon Citadel (Superior Room)
- Colombo – Galle Face Hotel (Superior Room)