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Sri Lanka with its nearly 3000 years of history holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla. Remnants of these once glorious cities, their palaces, temples, monasteries, hospitals and theaters intricately carved and modeled out of stone lay abandoned amidst the soaring mountains.
Of all the ancient sites the most famed and most exquisite is the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s third and the longest serving capital and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is also one of the most sacred cities of World Buddhists. It was the capital of Sri Lanka from the Fourth Century BC up to the turn of the eleventh Century and was one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. However the city itself is much older than the Kingdom of Anuradhapura and according to archeological evidence could have originated as far as tenth century BC. Anuradhapura was abandoned due to the due to repeated South Indian Invasions and was eventually forgotten with time until it was rediscovered in the early 19 th century.
Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient kingdom of the country was first made the political center of the country in the ninth century BC. Irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed in Polonnaruwa kingdom, and still provide irrigation water to the farmers in and around Polonnaruwa. Yet the kingdom’s glory was short-lived and a South Indian invasion pushed the political centre towards the centre of the country by the eleventh century. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, a testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.
Digamadulla, the Eastern kingdom of Sri Lanka was the agricultural and spiritual capital of the country during the Anuradhapura kingdom. Ruled by a viceroy of the Anuradhapura king Digamadulla was a prosperous province with grand palace, monasteries and temples at every juncture. Having received lesser attention of archaeologists compared to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa many a great creations of ancient Digamadulla had been lost to time, war and plunder while many more silently awaits in the midst of the forests covering the lands of Eastern Sri Lanka.
Highlights: Bird watching, Elephant Safari, Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage, Temple of the Tooth Relic, PeradeniyaBotonical Gardens, cultural show, Dambulla temple, Sigiriya Rock fortress, Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Ancient City of Anuradhapura, Parakrama Samudraya boat ride.
Route: Bandaranaike International Airpor-Kandy
Head to the mountain capital of Sri Lanka visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the way. See the elephants frolicking at the nearby river and orphaned baby elephants been bottle fed. Spend the evening within the mesmerizing interiors of Temple of the Tooth Relic followed by a concert showcasing traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.
Route: Kandy/ PeradeniyaBotonical gardens/ Kandy/Dambulla/Kandalama
Spend a morning strolling amidst the exotic flora of Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and head to Dambulla temple, an ancient cave temple with intricate frescoes and magnificent Buddha statues. Spend the night in Kandalama on the banks of the Kandalama Reservoir.
Spend the early morning on the banks of the KandalamaWewa enjoying the rich bird life through a bird watching trip. Try conquering Sigiriya a rock fortress and a pleasure garden, adorned with murals of beautiful damsels after breakfast and head to Anuradhapura, the greatest city of Lanka after lunch.
Route: Anuradhapura city tour
Tour the ancient city of Anuradhapura including the visit to the Ruwanwelimaha Seya, the great stupa of Lanka and the Jaya Sri MahaBodhiya, the sacred fig tree, one of the oldest trees in the world. Behold the serene beauty of Samadhi Buddha Statue and spend the evening riding the waters of Kala Wawa.
Commence exploring one of the better kept ruins of ancient Ceylon - the UNESCO World Heritage City of Polonnaruwa and end the day with a boat ride in Parakrama Samudraya.
Continue exploring the city of Polonnaruwa and head to Minneriya Wildlife reserve neighbouring Kavdullah National Park, a vast sanctuary home to about 250 wild elephants, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, sloth bear and more in the afternoon.
Tour the city of Colombo including a visit to the National Museum and to the Antiquities replica sales Centre at Museum premises.
Highlights: Elephant safari, Lahugala archaeological sites, Ampara Archaeological sites and beach, Buddangala, Kudumbigala, Samangala, Okanda temple and beach, Kumana Bird Sanctuary, Yala Wildlife Sanctuary, KataragamaDevalaya and KiriWehera, Galle fort and city tour, Colombo City tour.
Route: Bandaranaike International Airport/Colombo
Spend the rest of the day following your arrival in touring the city of Colombo and enjoying the diverse colours and sounds of Sri Lanka’s capital.
Head to the Eastern Sri Lanka, stopping at the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and the MagulMahaViharaya in Lahugala, an ancient monastery complex spreading over the jungle. Spend the evening at the beautiful Potuvil beach.
Spend the morning marvelling Deegawapiya, an ancient monastery complex and head to Kudumbigala, a forest hermitage practicing 2500 year old monastic tradition, situated amidst the Kudumbigala Wildlife Sanctuary.From Kudumbigala proceed to OkandaDevalaya, a Hindhu temple situated closer to the famous Okanda Beach
Visit the Kumana Bird Sanctuary for an exceptional experience in Sri Lanka’s bird life and the archaeological sites scattered over the sanctuary. Proceed to a luxury camping experience at Yala for the night.
Route: Yala/ Kataragama
Spend the day within the Yala Wildlife Reserve in pursuit of Elephants and illusive leopard and head to Kataragama sacred city for the night.
Visit the sacred Kataragama temple dedicated to Lord Skanda and join the morning prayers with thousand others devotees. Head to Galle, a pre-colonial trading town and a trading and military base of the Dutch and British During their rule over Sri Lanka. Investigating the Dutch Galle fort under the setting sun, a memory to be treasure forever.
Spend the day visiting the Colombo museum followed by shopping at Colombo town.