Bawa's Architectural Tour

This specialist holiday has been put together to enable those interested in architectural design to experience the works of Bawa, as well as this island’s ancient architectural heritage and natural landscapes that influenced his creations.

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Day 1
Arrive at Colombo airport. Transfer to your accommodation in Negombo, a colonial-style bungalow about 15 minutes from the airport. Relax after your long journey and immerse yourself in a rejuvenating massage at the spa and dinner by the pool.

Day 2 & 3
After breakfast leave for Dambulla and visit the 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 and Aukana, where the Buddha stands 42 feet high, the best-preserved statue in Sri Lanka. If you wish, climb 1,840 steps, high above the palm trees, with the pilgrims, to the summit of Mihantale rock. Thereafter, visit the fabulous ‘Mahakanadarawa’ stone bridge, which dates back to the 7th century and is situated in the midst of the forest. Within the cultural triangle, you will also see Sri Lanka’s ancient hydraulic heritage: irrigation works consisting of tanks (reservoirs), sluices, and canals built by Kings 2,500 years ago. This system still serves the surrounding villages today.

Day 4 & 5
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 has been enshrined here since 4th Century A.D. 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.

Day 6 & 7
Today you begin your journey to the central highlands with its tea covered hills, gushing waterfalls, and scenic beauty. Travel into Sri Lanka’s tea-growing highlands. The following morning you might like to enjoy the “Tea experience”, which involves a visit to a plantation to observe first hand 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 area also provides an excellent base for a variety of adventure activities. There are a number of mountain bike trails that loop through the surrounding tea estates and guides are available. The reservoirs of Castlereagh and Maskeliya offer a pristine lake environment for kayaking. Maps, guides and safety gear are all provided. A number of treks and scenic walks are also available. 

Day 8 - 10
You now travel out of the hills and head southwest to Tangalle for a two night stay in the Last House, Geoffrey Bawa’s final creation designed in 1997. Visit Rekuwa, a small fishing village near Tangalle where a fascinating Marine Turtle Conservation project is helping to save this endangered species. Based at Mirissa Harbour, Mirissa Water Sports offers several activities including whale watching, snorkeling, sailing, river trips, and sea kayaking. Visit the ancient Mulkirigala temple which is perched on an enormous boulder more than 200m high. According to ancient inscriptions carved on the rock, Mulkirigala dates back almost 2,000 years when it was a site of a Buddhist monastery. The serene white Dagoba stands at the peak of the rock with magnificent coastal views.

Day 11 & 12
Travel along the coast to Bentota where you will stay two nights at a garden retreat that was originally an old rubber plantation that Geoffrey Bawa transformed into a haven of peace. En route, you will pass several of Geoffrey Bawa’s creations including Ruhuna University in Matara, an inspiring creation by Bawa for the younger generation of Sri Lanka. Visit Galle’s 17C fort – a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and experience the Portuguese and Dutch period architecture within the fort. Once at Lunuganga, you will have an opportunity to experience Bawa’s personal space. Lunuganga is a garden retreat that inspired him and was closest to his heart. The Lunuganga gardens were a lifelong project cherished by Bawa and designed with numerous varieties of foliage, many pavilions and statues. Bawa continued to develop the gardens for almost 50 years – a personal journey which helped to inspire his creativity.

Day 13
Today you head back to the capital city of Colombo for your final night where you will be staying at Tintagel – a luxurious boutique hotel housed in one of Sri Lanka’s most famous ancestral residences belonging to the family of Sri Lanka’s former president. The hotel is a short ride away from several 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 center of a vast manmade 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 Gangarama 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.

Day 14
Tour ends, transfer to airport - Return home or onward travel.

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