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Art and Archaeology of Sri Lanka

The reclining Buddha statue in Dambulla Cave, Sri LankaTwo Sigiriya maidens at the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka Tea Fields, Sri LankaDambulla Statue, Sri Lanka

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13 days
8 – 20 Sep 2011
Price pp
£2,020 excl. flight
Single supp.
Flight time
11 hours
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  • The treasures of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’
  • UNESCO Galle and Kandy
  • Little visited painted Buddhist temples

Lapped by the Indian Ocean’s warm waters and an important player in the spice and gem trades, Sri Lanka boasts a rich historical heritage and culture. Explore this through the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, the island’s first Buddhist capital, magnificent Polonaruwa and Sigirya’s impressive fortress. Buddhist temples tell of the country’s deep religious culture whilst Galle’s Dutch Fort, romantic Kandy and the cool highlands bear testament to Sri Lanka’s colonial past.

Day 1  London/ Colombo – Overnight flight.

Day 2  Galle – On arrival journey south to Galle, exploring one or two of the country’s little-visited painted Buddhist temples en route.

Day 3  Galle - A morning in UNESCO Galle. Wander through the narrow colonial streets of this historical city with its Dutch fort, churches and shops. Afternoon visit to two painted Buddhist temples at Kathalugoda and Mirissa.

Day 4  Galle, Nuwara Eliya – Journey to scenic Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s highest town, visiting tea estates and Haggala Botanical Gardens en route.

Day 5  Nuwara Eliya, Kandy – Morning visit to Horton Plains National Park before driving to romantic Kandy. On route visit the Embekke temple, famous for its wood carving.

Day 6  Kandy - Explore Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage with a visit to Kandy’s famous gold roofed Temple of the Tooth. Degaldoruwa Temple offers an insight into the previous lives of the Buddha with its paintings of Jataka stories, while in Peradeniya explore the beautiful botanical gardens. Return to the Tooth Temple for the evening ceremony.

Day 7  Dambulla, Sigiriya - Travel on to the impressive UNESCO rock temples at Dambulla.  A pilgrimage site thought to date back to 1st century BC, the five mystical cave temples house in the region of 150 Buddhas with beautiful frescoes. Continue to Sigiriya.

Day 8  Sigiriya –Early start to explore UNESCO-nominated Sigiriya Fortress to see its famous paintings and to climb to the top of the 200 metre high Lion Rock, rising proudly above the forest. Optional afternoon bird watching walk.

Day 9  Mihintale -Visit Mihintale, a hill with many shaded rock cut steps dedicated to the memory of Mahinda, son of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who brought Buddhism to the island in the 3rd century BC.

Day 10  Anuradhapura -A full day to the ancient royal capital of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s first Buddhist capital and one of the ancient world’s greatest monastic cities. Explore its impressive Buddhist monuments, sculptures and museums.

Day 11  Polonaruwa -Discover ancient Polonaruwa whose palaces, royal buildings and Buddhist shrines boast some captivating examples of master craftsmanship, many still well preserved after almost a thousand years.

Day 12  Polonaruwa, Colombo/ London -Return to Colombo for overnight.

Day 13  Colombo/ London –Return flight to London.

Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith is a cultural historian specialising in the art, archaeology and craft traditions of India, Iran and Central Asia. She is also an editor and the translator of several scholarly works and updated the Bradt Guide to Iran (2009).

As well as being a very experienced tour lecturer, Hilary is also a qualified Blue Badge guide, working mainly at special exhibitions in the British Museum and in the UK Parliament during the Recess.

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If you like this tour but our specific tour dates don't suit you we can arrange the same itinerary or similar on a tailor-made basis, please contact us to discuss.

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