Sri Lanka - Culture Photo Tour 2018
Kandy Esela Perahera; Sigiriya Rock Fortress; Kandy; Colombo; Kandy; Galle; Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic
Day 1: Arrival in Colombo
Today is set aside as an arrival day in Colombo. After arrival in Colombo International Airport and taking care of passport control and luggage formalities, you will be met by an ORYX representative and driven to your comfortable hotel for an overnight stay (approximately 45 – minutes).
Depending on your arrival time, you will enjoy a city tour of Colombo in the evening.
Visit the Kelaniya Temple
Kelaniya Temple built on the banks of the Kelaniya River is one of the most sacred sites of Sri Lanka. It is believed that Lord Buddha together with 500 Arahats (Supremely enlightened beings) visited Kelaniya on the Wesek full moon day of the Buddhist Era 2531 and expounding of the Dhamma, the Buddhist doctrine to the inhabitants of the island.
Visit the Red Mosque
Constructed in 1908, the Red Mosque is a historical landmark and recognized as one of the oldest mosques in Colombo. History states that the mosque was built for the Arab traders that made port in the Colombo Harbor, and acted as a landmark for the ships out at sea. Over the years the mosque’s been going through a series of expansions over the last few years, and will, in time, be large enough to accommodate 10,000 people.
Captain’s Garden Kovil (Sri Kailasanathar Swami Devashthanam). Sri Kailasanathar Swami Devasthanam with shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesh, is the oldest Hindu temple in Colombo. Located behind the Fort Railway Station, this Kovil (Hindu Temple) is devoted to the war god Skanda. It is the starting point for the annual Hindu Vel Festival. Vel is a procession where Vel (trident) chariot is dragged by devotees to the kovils.
Day 2: Drive Colombo to Habarana
After breakfast and at a time to be advised we drive by air conditioned coach to Habarana (approximately 5 hours). In the late afternoon we will visit Polonnaruwa, the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993.
It comprises the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. Some of the rulers of Polonnaruwa include King Vijayabahu I and King Parakramabahu I (Parakramabahu the Great). Most of Polonnaruwa that remains today dates from after the 1150s, as the extensive civil wars that preceded Parakramabahu’s accession to the throne devastated the city.
We will visit and photograph each special site within the ancient city of Polonnaruwa by short dives and comfortable walk. You will be able to photograph beautiful granite Buddha images that probably marks the high point of Sri Lankan rock carving. The vatadage (circular relic house), Lankatilaka temple, which was built by King Parakramabahu, The Royal Palace constructed by Parakramabahu and some ancient Kovil are highlights of the site.
Day 3: Habarana
After breakfast and at a time to be advised we will visit and photograph the Ritigala mountain range, which consists of four peaks of which the main and the highest peak at the south of the range is named Ritigala. This range is a 3776-acre (1582 ha) Strict Nature Reserve, in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. This is managed by the Department of Wildlife of Sri Lanka together with the Forest Department of Sri Lanka. The ancient ruins of Ritigala monastery are located on the eastern side of the mountain at the foot of the gorge which separates the main peak from the northern ridge of the range. The ruins cover an area of 24 hectares (59 acres).
The ancient man-made reservoir is a feat of engineering with a bund of polygonal plan completing a circumference of 366 meters. The construction of the reservoir is credited to King Pandukabhaya (437 – 367 BC). The reservoir possibly served a ritual bathing purpose, with visitors bathing there before entering the monastery.
After lunch and in the late afternoon we will visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura. The Anuradhapura Kingdom was Sri Lanka’s first capital city, founded by King Pandukabhaya in 377 BC, the kingdom’s authority extended throughout the country. The king of Anuradhapura was seen as the supreme ruler of the country throughout the Anuradhapura period.
One of the most notable events during the Anuradhapura Kingdom was the introduction of Buddhism to the country. Devanampiya Tissa, a Sinhalese King and his links with Emperor Asoka of India led to the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda (son of emperor Asoka) in 247 BC. This king’s reign was crucial to Theravada Buddhism that still thrives in Sri Lanka.
The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles.
We will visit and photograph numerous sites within the ancient city by short drives and walks. The sacred Bodhi tree is central to Anuradhapura in both a spiritual and physical sense. Today thousands of devotees come to make offerings, particularly on poya (full-moon) days and weekends. Sunset over the Nuwarawewa Lake is a magical time to visit. You will get the opportunity to photograph Ruvanvelisaya pagoda, and the Thuparama stupa is the oldest stupas in Sri Lanka – arguably the oldest visible stupas in the world.
Day 4: Drive Habarana to Kandy
At a time to be advised we will depart our hotel and head to the amazing Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Here we will explore this magical creations of Sri Lanka’s royalty and a World Heritage site. Sigiriya Rock Fortress palace was built by King Kasyappa in 5th century AD. It takes one hours climb to the top of the rock along the ancient rock stairway. Stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape & brilliant ancient garden landscaping can be seen from atop. We then road transfer to Sri Lanka’s Holiest city – Kandy, the islands last kingdom (approximately 3 hours).
Upon arrival and after check in we will visit the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic, a sacred Buddhist temple located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. It houses the Relic of the Sacred Tooth of the Lord Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the sacred temple.
We will be able to witness and photograph the hundreds of devotees visiting the temple with plate of flowers and lighting of oil lamps as a part of the ritual in worship of this most holy temple of Ceylon.
In the late evening we will visit the Kandy cultural show, which is one of the most famous evening events in this heritage city and a major highlight for any photographer. The cultural show is performed by the traditional dancers that captivates your ears and eyes with spectacular displays of local culture and art. Covering various aspects of Sri Lanka’s traditions. Brace yourselves to see drummers, fire dancers, spectacular costumes and more in a blitz over an hour long with great photo opportunities.
Day 5: Kandy
In the morning we visit the Gadaladeniya & Embekke ancient temples. Gadaladeniya Rajamaha temple is an ancient monastery found on the flat rock at Diggala in the district of Kandy. According to an inscription there, this temple was built by King Buwanekabahu IV in the year 1344. The chief architect of this temple has been a South Indian called Ganesvarachari.
Therefore this temple is essentially a South Indian design. We are able to photograph the ancient temple, which is part of the Kandiyan Kingdom. We will also be able to photograph one of oldest wood carvings belongs to the Kandiyan kingdom at Embekke temple.
In the late evening we will visit and photograph Asia’s most colorful cultural pageant, the Kandy Esela Perahera. The month of Esala (July), during which period this annual pageant is usually held, had been considered a month of celebrations and festivity. Even from the lifetime of the Buddha in the 6th century BC, the Esala festival was held to commemorate the Buddha’s Conception, his Renunciation and the First Sermon.
This cultural masterpiece and procession is held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha, which is housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa. A unique cultural symbol of Sri Lanka, the procession consists of over two thousand traditional local dances, fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural acts in procession fused with over 60 elephants dressed up for the evening.
These elephants who are usually adorned with lavish garments as a special attraction to the procession are also decorated with hundreds of LED lights that makes them look spectacular.
We will get the opportunity to witness and photograph a lifetime experience of very unique and dramatic event which is equally rich in culture, heritage and emotion.
Day 6: Kandy to Galle
This morning and at a time to be advised and after breakfast we will road transfer to Galle (approximately 5 hours) and enjoy lunch en-route. In the afternoon we will photograph one of Sri Lanka’s most famous activities, Stilt fishing. Which is an old tradition practiced by around 500 fishing families in southwestern part Sri Lanka.
They usually fish during sunset, noon and sunrise, with each one taking their elevated position and balancing about 2 meters above the sea water. There is a vertical pole engrafted into the coral reef, attached to it is a cross bar, called the ‘petta’, on which the fishermen sit and fish holding the rod with one hand. They catch small spotted herrings and mackerels, which are then kept in a plastic bags tied around their waist or the pole.
Day 7: Galle
In the morning we will explore and photograph the magnificent Galle Fort. Galle port is one of the landmark of Dutch occupation in Sri Lanka. It was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years – still maintains a polished appearance.
The Dutch engaged in trade while ruling Sri Lanka and the trade occurred through their trading company named as Dutch East India Company or VOC. Although the VOC first controlled only the coastal lands, the Dutch gradually pushed inland, occupying considerable territory in southern, southwestern, and western Sri Lanka. In 1665 they expanded to the east coast and thus controlled most of the cinnamon-growing lands and the points of exit and entry on the island. Guests will be able to walk on the old cobblestone paths within the fort to witness and photograph Portuguese & Dutch architecture in the Galle Fort.
The afternoon will be spend at leisure of photographing around the fascinating port of Galle.
Day 8: Road transfer Galle to Colombo and Depart
After breakfast we depart by road back towards Colombo, where this incredible culture Photo Tour sadly comes to an end.