This South India and Sri Lanka itinerary is a very exciting 18 – day itinerary that includes both India and Sri Lanka. Not only will you see the sites in both countries but will also enjoy special experiences that will immerse you into the culture.
Namaste! Welcome to India!
Our representative will meet you in the arrival area of the airport after you clear all immigration and customs formalities. Depart for your hotel to begin your South India tour.
After breakfast, a local expert will meet you for a specially curated tour of Mumbai. On this tour, you will be engaged in five different experiences that will give you an immersive perspective on this city. This tour pays homage to Mumbai in its entirety by creating fun and engaging day-long activities that don’t dwell on just history lessons but go beyond.
After breakfast, fly to Cochin (Kochi), a city spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the Kerala backwaters. The city was founded in 1341, and was on the main trade route between Europe and China. The rulers invited people of various religions to settle here, attracting Jews and Christians who built places of worship and their own communities here.
Start your morning bright and early cycling through the picturesque seaside town of Fort Kochi, and witness the city wake up. Join the locals for a hot brimming cup of tea as they start their day. Peek into the varied and diverse communities from faraway lands who have made Fort Kochi their home. Visit the early morning fish market. End with a sumptuous local breakfast!
In the afternoon, enjoy the Kerala Kaleidoscope. Showcasing quintessentially magnificent vignettes of Kerala`s rich cultural traditions, Kaleidoscope Kerala is essentially an exclusive, uniquely choreographed repertoire of live classical dance and music performed in a heritage theater with legendary ritualistic folk invocations and martial arts.
After breakfast, depart for Alleppey, an easy-going market town, surrounded by coconut plantations. Board a kettuvallam or “boat with knots” so called because these sturdy boats were held together with only knots. Sail towards Kumarakom on the backwater canals and through Vembanad Lake, offering you glimpses of the otherwise inaccessible rural life in the Kerala backwaters.
Today explore on your own, or simply lay back and relax in this pristine environment. You may opt for Ayurvedic massages and rejuvenation therapies, or set off on an exciting optional excursion.
After breakfast, transfer to Cochin airport to connect for the flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Welcome to Sri Lanka!
Arrive in Colombo and begin your Sri Lanka experience. Transfer to your hotel where you can relax and enjoy the evening.
After breakfast, transfer to Sigiriya. The drive is about 4 hours. Visit Dambulla Cave Temple before checking into the hotel. Dambulla is famous for the five cave temples on a rock. The first 3 caves are better, older, and larger than the other two. Some caves date to the 1st C.B.C. All the 5 cave walls and ceilings are covered with Buddhist murals and there are more than 130 Buddha statues. Statues of Gods and kings are also found here.
On arrival, check into the hotel and relax.
After breakfast, visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of the most dramatic, inspiring, and beautiful historical locations in the world. It was built in the 5th century AD by King Kashyapa as a fortress-palace. The Aukana Buddha is said to be the most magnificent and most well – preserved ancient image on the island. Constructed in the 5th century B.C., during the time of King Dhatusena, it stands 13 meters high.
After lunch, proceed on a jeep safari at Minneriya National Park. Minneriya is a national park in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on August 12, 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchments of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in the third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in the forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts.
Return to the hotel and relax.
After an early breakfast, set out to visit Polonnaruwa.
King Parakramabahu’s reign is considered to be the golden age of Polonnaruwa when trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the king. He was adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted and was to be used toward the development of the land. Irrigation systems far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during King Parakramabahu’s reign. These systems to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country.
Afterwards, continue to Ritigala.
Ritigala is home to 70 rock caves that were believed to have been inhabited since the first century BC. Mahavamsa, the great historical chronicle of Sri Lanka, narrates that Ritigala was known by the name of “arittha-pabbata” during the reign of King Pandukabhaya (377-307 BC), the third king of Sri Lanka. Since then Ritigala had been, at intervals, a sanctuary for the kings at war against the Dravidian invaders until the 7th century under King Dutugemunu (161-137 BC) and King Jetthatissa. From the early days of Buddhism, monks had been living in the natural caves or rock shelters.
Return to the hotel and relax.
After breakfast, drive towards the Royal City of Kandy. The drive is 3 hours.
En route, visit a spice Garden in Matale.
The Spice Garden in Matale has long been renowned for its spices. Since ancient times, traders from all around the world who came to Sri Lanka brought their native cuisines to the island, resulting in a rich diversity of cooking styles and techniques. Sri Lankans use spices liberally in their dishes and typically do not follow an exact recipe. At the Spice Garden learn about fragrant clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace and pepper, and many other favorites such as chocolate and vanilla.
On arrival in Kandy, check into the hotel.
Later, proceed on a guided city tour around the lake, visit to the view point, Wales Park, and the Garrison cemetery in Kandy.
Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city located in the mountainous center of the island. It is considered by some as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Kandy is a great place to experience Sri Lankan culture and cuisine surrounded by a beautiful natural environment. This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site.
Afterwards, explore the historical Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on a guided tour and learn about the long local history.
Ever since the 4th century A.D, when Buddha’s tooth was brought to Sri Lanka hidden from sacrilegious hands in an Orissan princess’s hair, the Relic has grown in repute and holiness in Sri Lanka and throughout the Buddhist world. It is considered as Sri Lanka’s most prized possession.
In the late afternoon, witness a cultural program which offers a vibrant and unique show of Sri Lankan traditional dances. As many as twelve different folk and traditional dances are performed by the Kandy Lake Club Dance company.
After breakfast, transfer to the Kandy Railway Station and enjoy a scenic train ride to Nanu Oya. To experience Sri Lanka at a slower pace, the train between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya is quintessentially Sri Lankan and offers stunning views. The train journeys through a range of landscapes including tea plantations, forests, valleys, and cliffs. The entire journey takes approximately four hours.
Depart the train at Nanu Oya and transfer to your hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Nuwara Eliya is a land of tea-laden hillsides, gurgling waterfalls, stirring mountains, and clear hill-country air. The temperatures are like a beautiful English summer’s day. It is wonderful walking country, a chance to experience Sri Lankan scenery at its finest. It is supposed to be one of the coldest places on the island, but is really just like an England spring day although the temperature does drop at night. Victoria Park, in the middle of town, is a lovely place for a stroll or a picnic. Seasons may be absent elsewhere in Sri Lanka, but here you can read them by the flowers, which bloom in the spring (March to May) and the fall (August and September). These are the ‘seasons’ when low-country people flock to Nuwara Eliya to escape the sea level heat and humidity.
Hotel: Oliphant Bungalow
Early morning, enjoy a nature walk at Horton Plains, World’s End and trek up to Bakers falls with a packed breakfast.
Horton Plains, the highest plateau at 7,000 ft, is a national park. The patnas in the lower parts, rising from the marshes and streams extend up to the tree-line. The trees, stunted by the wind and mist, covered with ‘Sphagnum moss ‘or old man’s beard, and the jungle is full of rare and endemic plants. The red flowered Rhododendrons, or the ‘Niloos’ that blooms once in 12 years, and the butterflies, birds, found only in the hill areas, the ‘Bear Monkey,’ large herds of sambar, leopard and other animals are found in the plains. The ‘World End’ and ‘Little World End” with sheer drops of 3,000 ft to the plantations below, are not found anywhere else in the country.
After lunch, visit a tea factory to understand the process of one of the world’s most renowned beverages.
Visit the Seetha Amman Temple. The Sita Eliya Kovil is located about 4 km away from the town on the Nuwara Eliya – Bandarawela road. According to local legend, the Kovil is believed to mark the spot where Sita was held captive by her abductor, King Ravana. The Sita Amman Kovil Temple is the only Sita temple in the world, nestled ideally on the banks of a clear stream, in the midst of pictorial landscapes. The waters of the stream are believed to be the same where Sita bathed during her stay at Ashok Vatika. The temple is the exact spot where Sita was held captive by the demon King Ravana in the Hindu epic, Ramayana.
After breakfast, transfer to Yala. The drive is 4 ½ hours.
Arrive Yala and check into the hotel.
Enjoy morning and afternoon jeep safari’s in Yala National Park.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the southeast region of the country. The park covers 378 sq. miles and is located about 190 miles from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and as a national park in 1938, along with Wilpattu, one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. The park, apart from being important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants and aquatic birds, is best known for its variety of wild animals ranging from leopards to elephants to peacocks.
After breakfast, transfer to Galle. The drive is 2 hours.
En route visit Yatagala Rock Temple. Believed to be more than 2,000 years old, when Buddhism was first established in the island, the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is one of the few monuments in the Galle district that explains the history of Sri Lanka. Possessing some intricate works of art originating from various kingdoms, the temple showcases how religion is deeply intertwined with the way of life. You will be able to witness the daily rituals and learn how the various kingdoms of Sri Lanka contributed to the preservation of the temple.
Continue to Galle. On arrival, check into the hotel.
Afterwards, explore Galle Fort.
Galle is the prime example of a fortified city built by Europeans in south and southeast Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and south Asian traditions. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the natural harbor, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, and the Clock Tower.
After breakfast, spend the day at leisure, or you may opt for whale watching in Mirissa, or you may also take up a full day tour to Sinharaja Rain Forest, a treasure trove of endemic species.
Your tour of South India and Sri Lanka has come to an end. Transfer to Colombo International airport in time to board your flight home. The drive is about 1 ½ hours.