Other Red Dot Sites: Maldives
The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Sri Lanka’s Northern Heritage heads off to the far north of Sri Lanka which is reawakening once more. From the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura and the magnificent rock fortress of Sigiriya, journey further north through picturesque rural landscapes, Nature lovers might wish to travel during the migrant birding season from October to March when the Jaffna lagoons are lined with pink flamingos and numerous other birds.
Upon arrival journey along Sri Lanka's North West coast to the Kalpitiya peninsula where remote beaches are on one side and the tranquil Kalpitiya Lagoon on the other. Go on a dolphin spotting excursion during the season from December to April or take a trip into Wilpattu, Sri Lanka's most attractive game park.
Travel to the Cultural Triangle where you can visit Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka’s first capital, and the greatest monastic city of the ancient world, ruled from the 4C BC to the 11C by more than 100 Sri Lankan kings. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura consists of a large number of sacred Buddhist sites including dagobas, monasteries, palaces and the ancient Bo Tree, grown from the original tree in Budda Gaya under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Just 13 kms away is Mihintale, one of Sri Lanka’s most significant religious sites, where Buddhism originated on the island in 247 BC.
From Anuradhapura, you head north to the Jaffna peninsula which is the northern tip of Sri Lanka. This journey will take about four hours on the A9 road through remote villages. Explore Jaffna town where sacred Hindu kovils dedicated to various gods are found in every street corner. Visit the ruins of Jaffna Fort, stroll around the bustling markets and eat in small local eateries and cafes. Explore the heritage sites north of town such as the ancient Naguleswaram Kovil, hot springs of Keerimalai and the ruins of Kantharodai Buddhist temple. To the west there is the Casuarina beach, Fort Hammenhiel and bird watching on the Jaffna to Karainagar causeway. During the migrant birding season from September to March, flamingos and other water birds in their thousands line the Jaffna lagoon: a spectacular site not to be missed. Visit the island of Nainativu, home to the historic Nagadeepa Buddhist temple and the Naga Pooshani Ambal kovil. The more adventurous might wish to spend a day out in Delft Island, a remote and charming island where wild horses graze the barren plains.
One of the oldest cities in Asia, Trincomalee has historically been an important trading port due to its large natural harbour. The British once called it "the most valuable colonial possession on the globe". A few miles to the north are the glorious sands of Nilaveli, where the weather is at its most glorious for sun worshippers from June to September. This is Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the Maldives: never-ending white sandy beaches and shimmering blue seas.
Wind your way south west to Sigiriya. Rise early the next day and climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, built in the 5C by King Kasyapa. The walk to the summit brings history alive. The ruins of the fortress upon the huge rock, the wall frescoes, and the symmetrical royal gardens surrounding the rock are amazing feats of this period. Visit Dambulla’s ancient cave temple consisting of a complex of Buddhist image houses. Its rock ceiling is one large sweep of colourful frescoes, some of which date back more than 2,000 years, depicting Buddhist mythology and the tales of the Buddha's previous births. This cave temple has the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place, including a 14m-long figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock.
Journey close to Colombo’s international airport for your final night’s stay
Bar Reef Resort is a tranquil eco-retreat designed with an elegant, deliberately rustic style on Sri Lanka's sparsely populated north-west coast. Its wattle-and-daub cabanas and family villas lie amidst swaying palms, sandy beaches and the ocean which is home to dolphins and whales during the season.
Palm Garden Village has the air of a colonial club, but one with a relaxed and enlightened feel. It was built in traditional colonial style in the late 1990s and stands in a large park, with villas immersed in the greenery. Often elephants, buffaloes, and deer wander out of the forest to drink at the adjacent lake, which was renovated by the hotel.
Nilaveli Beach Resort is a relaxed 16-room holiday retreat consisting of nine separate wooden cabanas on stilts, set right on the beach. It is secluded and peaceful but still an excellent location for excursions to Pigeon Island and Trincomalee.
Lake Lodge, a 12-room boutique hotel in the heart of the cultural triangle, is surrounded by the peaceful gentle hills of Kandalama, and the lake beyond. Accommodation is in six two-storey chalets, with balconies on the upper floor, opening out to picturesque jungle and mountains views
Jetwing Lagoon, 20 minutes' drive from thje international airport, spreads across seven acres of tropical gardens edged by Negombo Lagoon. Originally known as the Blue Lagoon, one of Geoffrey Bawa’s first architectural creations.
The Thinnai is a 39-suite luxury hotel located in the quieter part of Jaffna town. Closely situated to many of the interesting and historical sites in the Northern peninsula, Thinnai is a great place for families and friends.
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