The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Explore the influences of Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka's most influential architect in this specially-created island tour. Bawa's deep understanding of the country’s cultural heritage ensured the stylish, vibrant tourist sector that exists today and he remains revered by Sri Lanka's finest architects. This specialist holiday celebrates the works of Bawa, as well as the heritage and landscapes that influenced his creations where the natural world becomes an integral part of designs based upon courtyards, walkways, and open verandas.
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, transfer to a Bawa-influenced hotel close to the international airport. Relax after your long journey.
During the next two days, you will experience Sri Lanka's ancient architectural heritage – ruins of cities, palaces and temples built by kings of the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods dating back to the 3rd century BC. In Dambulla, visit the ancient Buddhist cave temples and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. You also have the option of visiting Yapahuwa, an ancient temple and palace built on a rock described by the Insight Guide to Sri Lanka as "one of the great architectural wonders of the island”, and Aukana, where the Buddha stands 42 feet high, the best-preserved statue in Sri Lanka. If you wish, climb 1,840 steps to the summit of Mihintale rock. Mihintale is the cradle of Buddhism. Thereafter, visit the fabulous Mahakanadarawa stone bridge, which dates back to the 7th century and is situated in the midst of the forest.
The journey from the Cultural Triangle to Sri Lanka's hill capital, the small lakeside city of Kandy, will occupy most of the morning. In the afternoon, a city tour includes the fabulous Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya> and the Temple of the Tooth where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined since 4th century AD. The temple has decorative walls, a golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services (pooja) with traditional music and drumming are held daily at dawn, midday and in the evening where guests can participate.
Today you begin your journey to the central highlands with its tea-covered hills and gushing waterfalls, and scenic beauty. Visit a tea plantation to observe the process, starting from the plucking field where it all begins with the picking of “two leaves and a bud” to the factory where the processing begins. The hill country offers rich opportunities for trekking, kayaking, cycling and much more.
You now travel out of the hills and head south along the coast to Tangalle for a two night stay in the Last House, Geoffrey Bawa’s final creation designed in 1997. The Last House is positioned on an idyllic strip of land – lagoon on one side, fabulously long beach on the other. Visit Rekuwa, a small fishing village near Tangalle where a fascinating Marine Turtle Conservation project is helping to save this endangered species. You might also consider the following activities whilst you are on the south coast: whale watching, snorkelling, sailing, river trips, and sea kayaking. Visit the ancient Mulgirigala temple which is perched on an enormous boulder more than 200m high with magnificent coastal views.
Travel along the coast to Bentota where you will stay at another Bawa property. En route, you will pass Ruhuna University in Matara, an inspiring creation by Bawa for the younger generation of Sri Lanka. This project enabled him to explore his style of integrating working spaces into a natural landscape. Built between two hills, this university campus consists of pavilions and courtyards with breath-taking views of the Indian Ocean. We also recommend a visit to Galle’s 17C Fort. Experience the Portuguese- and Dutch-period architecture as you wander along narrow streets, the well-preserved ramparts and lighthouse. Stop for lunch at the Jetwing Lighthouse hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa in 1994. This elegant boutique hotel is located on a rocky headland overlooking the Indian Ocean. Jetwing Lighthouse, like Kandalama, demonstrates Bawa’s skill at 'integrating architecture and landscape, and his scenographic manipulation of space.'
Today you head back to the capital city of Colombo for your final night. Take the opportunity to see public buildings designed by Geoffrey Bawa including Sri Lanka’s parliament building in Kotte, which the president at the time commissioned Bawa to design in 1979. Bawa created the Parliament building in the centre of a vast man-made lake. The building incorporates traditional Sri Lankan and South Indian architectural features with a series of pavilions with copper roofs. The Seema Malakaya, which is a part of the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple in Colombo, is also a similar creation by Bawa built on the Beira Lake with a pavilion in the middle where priests are ordained, a shrine room and a sacred Bo tree on either side. For your final night, we recommend dinner at Gallery Café, which housed Bawa’s office. The Gallery provides an atmospheric dining experience and also serves as an art gallery to promote the creative talents of young artists. Books on Bawa can be purchased from the Paradise Road Studio.
Nestled amongst acres of beautifully manicured gardens, this colonial manor house, or Wallawwa, is now a luxurious boutique hotel. This old and new concept provides guests with unrivalled setting and style just 15 minutes from the airport. 18 bedrooms, Asian fusion cuisine, Z spa and The Wallawwa’s swimming pool – all set amongst one of the finest private gardens in Sri Lanka.
Heritance Kandalama is a minimalist contemporary hotel cleverly designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s famous architecture guru. Bawa conceived this famous Sri Lankan hotel as 'an austere jungle palace’ located on the bund of an ancient 3rd century reservoir and captures the surrounding magical views from every angle
The Kandy House is a brilliant boutique hotel offering stylish and private accommodation, personal service, and delicious food - all in a stunningly beautiful natural setting. The manor house, has been refurbished to blend the old with the new- light white interiors, polished hardwood floorboards, Jack wood staircase, Dutch style antique furniture and careful injections of colour.
The Last House, so called because it was Geoffrey Bawa's architectural swansong, is positioned on an idyllic strip of land - lagoon on one side, beach on the other - on the outskirts of Tangalle. It has long been one of best villas in the south coast and also operates as a small boutique hotel. Few villas have a better beach.
Lunuganga offers guests a rare opportunity to step inside the private life of one of the world’s most celebrated architects. Geoffrey Bawa bought this former rubber estate in 1948 to craft into his garden idyll. After decades of careful, exquisite, creative thought and design, the home and grounds have become his legacy, a wondrous, inspiring place.
Maniumpathy is a luxurious eight-bedroom colonial villa located in a residential hub of Colombo surrounded by cafes and shops. Tastefully furnished with antiques and modern amenities, Maniumpathy is a great place to start or even wind down a well-deserved holiday.
Summerville is a pretty chocolate box bungalow nestling among the rich green hills of the Dickoya region, more than 4,000 feet above sea level. One of five wonderful tea-estate bungalows in the acclaimed Tea Trails collection in the south-west highlands.
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