Seven centuries ago, explorer Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as “the finest island of its size in all the world.” The island’s treasures continue to captivate travelers into the 21st century. Sri Lanka is home to ancient monuments, magnificent temples and golden beaches. Here are a few travel tips for Sri Lanka, from the capital of Colombo to the country’s Cultural Triangle (located in the center of the island and home to a wealth of archaeological heritage sites) to Galle, situated on the island’s southwest tip.
Great museum in Sri Lanka’s capital: In Colombo, visit the National Museum, which was established in 1877. The museum was founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, who was then the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Today it features displays on Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural heritage. Highlights include 12th-century bronzes of Hindu gods.
Top UNESCO World Heritage site: Although Sri Lanka is home to eight World Heritage sites, you don’t want to miss the extraordinary site of Sigiriya (Lion Rock), built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century CE. A blend of fortress and palace on a massive rocky hill, Sigiriya is justly famous for its frescoes of celestial dancers and its rock garden.
Comfortable resort in the Cultural Triangle:Cinnamon Lodge Habarana is the perfect base for exploring ancient Buddhist sites. Located on lush forested land, this eco-friendly property has 137 chalets. Cinnamon Lodge Habarana also gives guests the option of enjoying cuisine made with produce from the resort’s organic farm.
Most remarkable religious sites: Visit Dambulla Cave Temple, whose history dates from the 1st century BCE. Carved into the hillside, the caves still have important sculptures as well as 19th-century paintings. Another fascinating place is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy. A famous pilgrimage site, the temple houses Sri Lanka’s most significant Buddhist relic: a tooth of the Buddha.
Good spot for garden lovers: Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens outside of Kandy. Renowned for their outstanding collection of orchids, the gardens are also home to aquatic plants, an arboretum, a bamboo collection, a spice garden and a medicinal garden.
Most dramatic lodging in Galle: In the vibrant port city of Galle, stay at the Jetwing Lighthouse , spectacularly situated on the coast. Designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel is known for its beautiful setting, friendly staff and excellent food.
In November 2014, Academic Arrangements Abroad will explore Sri Lanka’s Buddhist legacy. We hope you’ll join us for “Tracing Ancient Buddhism,” a journey from the monasteries of Anuradhapura to the cinnamon trees of Hikkaduwa. Visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944 for additional details about this travel program.