What do the people of Sri Lanka think of Ramayan

Highlights of the trip

  • Exciting discussions about modern Sri Lanka
  • Exclusive insight into the holy reliquary chamber in the Temple of the Toothed
  • Timeless splendor: Spend the night in the legendary Galle Face Hotel

Map / Surroundings:

Sri Lanka - Between Ramayana and Theravada

Trip overview

What impresses you more: the tusks of the pachyderms in the Elephant Transit Home or Buddha's holy canine in Kandy? Definitely impressive: the variety of Buddhist and Hindu temples as well as the tasty regional dishes. Explore traditions, modern aspects and beautiful nature. Exciting encounters open up new aspects.

Tour guide: Ruwan Jayasekera

Ruwan Jayasekera has been working as a tour guide in Sri Lanka for almost 20 years and looks after almost exclusively German-speaking travelers. He has a diploma in German and German literature from the Goethe Institute in Freiburg.

He has completed numerous courses and training programs at the Sebastian Kneipp Academy and is, among other things, a licensed hiking and cycling guide. In his free time, he is passionate about hiking, photography, and exploring Sri Lanka's cultural heritage. What is special about his homeland for him is the diversity of flora and fauna, the diversity of ethnic groups and religions, the food and the over 2,500 year history. He attaches great importance to the fact that his guests experience his culture, his country and his compatriots authentically and up close. During his travels, he addresses topics that cannot be found in any travel guide.

Itinerary

1. + 2. Arrival in Colombo

In the evening our flight goes from Frankfurt to Colombo, where we arrive the next afternoon. Our tour guide greets us at the airport and takes us to our historic hotel on the promenade, which is one of the landmarks of Colombo. First arrive in peace!
In the late afternoon we walk from the hotel along the lively promenade. Many city dwellers come here after work, buy snacks from the street vendors and end the day by the ocean. We walk to the Old Dutch Hospital, a building from Dutch colonial times that has been converted into a trendy mall. In the roof terrace restaurant The Botanic Bistro & Bar, we start our journey with international dishes with an exotic touch.

3. Colombo - Between tradition and modernity

After breakfast we meet Mr. Lakshman Joseph Desaram, founder and artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Sri Lanka. As one of the leading classical musicians on the island, the GEO Special dedicated an article to him in 2018. If possible, we will listen to a rehearsal first. Afterwards he will tell us about his work and his future plans over a cup of tea. In the afternoon we explore the metropolis of Colombo. The city is currently experiencing a construction boom while trying to retain its old-world charm. An interesting time of upheaval. We walk through Colombo Fort, an area where Victorian buildings stand side by side with modern structures made of glass and steel. From the Grand Harbor Hotel we enjoy the view of the harbor, which is currently being transformed into the new Port City - a project that is viewed critically by environmentalists and the navy. We then see, among other things, the Red Mosque and the Nelum Pokuna Theater, the design of which is based on a lotus in full bloom. The small but very interesting Gangaramaya Temple awaits with a fascinating fusion of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. We return to the hotel for dinner.

4. Insight into ethical textile production

After breakfast we drive to the Brandix Green Factory, which was the first clothing factory in the world to be awarded platinum according to the LEED Green Building Rating System. While the race for even cheaper fast fashion clothing continues among many international fashion brands, Sri Lanka has established itself in the field of ethical manufacturing in recent years.

The factory that produces for international brands has received this accreditation to set a global benchmark for low energy consumption, water saving, waste management and low CO2 emissions. We get to know the management and learn how an old factory was converted to make it energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, and what measures were taken to improve working conditions for the workers.
After this exciting insight into the modern reality of Sri Lanka, we drive to Anuradhapura, ancient royal city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The afternoon is free.

5. Holy Mihintale Mountain | Impressive Anuradhpura

Early in the morning, before sunrise, we drive the short distance to the sacred Mihintale mountain. The place of pilgrimage is considered to be the origin of Sinhala Buddhism and is undoubtedly one of the most interesting sites in the cultural triangle. We climb a few steps until we arrive at the stupa. If you want, you can meditate for an hour, guided by one of the monks. Alternatively, you can climb right up to the summit, from where there is a great panoramic view over the plains of Anuradhapura with their deep blue lakes and the white domes of the many temples, which shine in the golden colors of the morning sun. Most days you will be accompanied by pilgrims dressed in white, carrying trays of fresh lotus flowers as offerings. We return to the hotel for breakfast. In the afternoon, after the midday heat has subsided, visit Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's first capital and empire of over 100 kings. The sheer size and ornate construction of the ancient monasteries of Anuradhapura is evidence of an extraordinarily advanced ancient civilization. One of the special sites of Anuradhapura is the Srimaha Bodhi, the oldest documented tree in the world.

6. Train ride to Jaffna - Hindu culture in the north

Jaffna, once the second largest city in Sri Lanka, was one of the sad main scenes of the civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2009. While it looked like a ghost town in the 1990s, 80,000 people are living in Jaffna again today. Since 2010 foreigners are officially allowed to visit the city again.
We take the new, comfortable express train to the north on an almost dead straight route. On the way we see how the landscape changes. The omnipresent coconut palms give way to the palmyra palms, which are characteristic of the north and east of the island. The wide plains are becoming drier and are overgrown with thorny hardwood trees and shrubs. After checking in at the hotel, we explore Jaffna. We will quickly see that everyday culture in the Tamil-Hindu north differs from the rest of Sri Lanka.
Next to the Dutch fort, which was the last bastion of the Tamil separatists, we see the colorful Hindu temple Nalur Kovil. Unlike in India, non-Hindus are also allowed to enter the temples in Sri Lanka - but men are only bare-chested. Dinner will be a very special experience: the small restaurant called Mango is known for its over 60 dosa variations (hearty pancakes made from white lentils).

7. Hindu & Buddhist sanctuaries in the north

After an early breakfast we drive to the ferry dock on the northern tip of the Jaffna Peninsula. We can watch the sunrise over the horizon as we cross the many dams. The fishermen haul in their nets during these hours in order to then offer the catch of the night at the fish market. We cross over to Nagadeepa by private boat. There are two sanctuaries to marvel at on the small island: a Buddhist and a Hindu temple are in the immediate vicinity, connected by a shopping street on which all kinds of temple accessories are for sale. Buddhists make a pilgrimage to Nagadeepa because Gauthama-Buddha is said to have visited the island in the fifth year after his enlightenment to settle a dispute over the gemstone throne between the two king sons Chulodara and Mahodara. The Hindu temple Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil is mainly visited by believers who are just becoming parents, new parents with offspring and childless couples.
Back on the mainland, we can take a bath in the sacred pools of the Keerimale Temple before we drive a short distance to Dambakolaputn. An Indian princess is said to have gone ashore here, who, hidden in her hair, smuggled the Buddha's left canine tooth to Sri Lanka. Also in the luggage is said to have been a little tree that has grown to this day to become Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred tree that we saw in Anuradhapura. In the Maradanamadam Hanuman Temple we marvel at the huge statue of the god Hanuman. In the evening we are guests of a family. While cooking and having dinner together (there is the local Jaffna crab curry), we talk about developments in the north since the end of the civil war and about the new opportunities that are being offered to young people in particular.

8. Drive to Dambulla & free time

We're going to Dambulla, the heart of the cultural triangle. The route leads through the hinterland of Sri Lanka, past farming villages and farmland. We stop in the shade to have a picnic and stretch our legs. In the afternoon we check into our hotel, which is idyllically situated on a lake in the middle of hardly touched nature. The rest of the day can be used as freetime. Let yourself be pampered in the spa or get active on the hotel's tennis court (for a surcharge).

9. At leisure in Dambulla

The day is at leisure. Design it according to your needs and personal ideas. We have prepared several recommendations for you.

10. Cave Temple & Botanical Garden

On our ascent to the sanctuary in Dambulla, we are likely to be accompanied by many cheeky monkeys. Take good care of glasses; Hats and cameras, the animals love to grab them! The over 80 caves that make up the cave complex have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 1990s. In the 2nd-3rd Century BC it was considered the most important monastery in Sri Lanka and was expanded until the 11th century. The main attraction are the five caves, which are dedicated to Buddha and adorned with magnificent frescoes and artistic sculptures. In the largest there is a 14m long, reclining Buddha statue. After the sightseeing we drive to Kandy, the cultural center and secret capital of the island. We walk through the botanical garden, an absolute highlight for plant lovers. The approximately 60 hectare complex is one of the most important gardens in Asia. Among the approximately 4,000 plant species represented here, the variety of orchids and the large number of Ayurvedic medicinal herbs in the herb garden are particularly impressive.

11. Behind the scenes at the Temple of the Tooth & Buddhist Literature

A very special highlight awaits us very early in the morning. We visit the Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth, the highest shrine in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of people from all over the world make a pilgrimage here every day. A tooth of the Buddha, the Dalada, is said to be kept in his golden shrine. The reason for our early visit is a very special and privileged experience that is only possible by exclusive invitation. We reach the temple at 5.30 a.m. and are escorted by the temple skin to the upper chamber, which is otherwise not open to the public. Here the monk will unveil the golden shrine for us, in which the highly venerated tooth relic of the Buddha is kept and then let us take part in a very special prayer ceremony. After breakfast in the hotel, we pay a visit to the Buddhist Publication Society, the world's largest publisher of Buddhist literature. The publications, reflecting the perspective of the Theravada branch, are sent out regularly to over 3,000 subscribers around the world. The titles have been translated into many other languages ​​including German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Hindi, and Chinese. From here we take a walk through the pretty town of Kandy. We stroll along the lake in the city center and across the market square, where there is a lot of trade. The afternoon is free.

12. Nuwara Eliya, home of Ceylon tea

Today it goes high. Our destination is Nuwara Eliya, at almost 1,900 meters. The route through the impressive mountain landscape leads past endless, lush green tea plantations. We stop at one and let the workers show us how the most expensive and high quality teas are harvested. Only the terminal bud with the two following leaves is picked. In technical jargon, the technique is called 'Two Leaves and a Bud'. Try it yourself. In the factory we see how the precious harvest is then processed and the Ceylon tea, which is valued around the world, is created. In Nuwara Eliya you have the opportunity to explore the former British mountain station on your own. The climate is pleasantly cool at this altitude. Between strawberry fields, manicured gardens and golf course, you almost feel like you are in Great Britain. We take our dinner at The Hill Club, an exclusive gentlemen's club founded in 1876 by a British coffee farmer. Non-members, including women, have only been allowed access for a few years. The men should have a tie in their luggage, which is part of the dress code here (can also be borrowed on site). We expect Mr. and Mrs. Holmus as guests. The couple run a tea plantation and talk to us about the character of the tea industry, including the new challenges that globalization brings and the personal and social aspects of life as tea growers.

13. Train ride through the highlands

The railway line through the Sri Lankan highlands is considered by connoisseurs to be one of the most beautiful routes in Asia. After a short car transfer, we board what is probably the slowest express train in the world at the station in Nanu Oya. We trundle comfortably through the impressive landscape with mystical cloud forests, emerald green tea plantations and small villages with sleepy train stations. After about three hours we reach Ella, a busy small town in the middle of a magnificent mountain landscape. In the afternoon, enjoy the tranquility and the panoramic view from the beautiful resort or take a simple hike in the surrounding area, for example to Little Adams Peak. Bird lovers will also get their money's worth here. The hotel grounds are a sanctuary for 63 bird species, including six endemic to Sri Lanka.

14. Rock Buddhas and Elephants

After breakfast we head south. In Buduruwagala we see the mysterious rock Buddhas. There is no record of the age or creator of the huge statues carved directly out of the rock. Researchers believe they are 1,000-3,000 years old. In the afternoon we visit an elephant rescue station where orphaned or injured young animals are nursed.
As soon as they are healthy and old enough, they will be tagged and released back into the freedom of the adjacent national park, where their progress will be monitored. The first of them have even successfully reproduced in the wild, a truly sustainable project! We convince ourselves of this immediately afterwards on a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park, probably the best park on the island for observing elephants in the wild. The park extends around a reservoir and consists mainly of grassland and briar savannas. Compared to other national parks, larger animals can be discovered much more easily in the wide, open areas.

We drive along the south coast to Galle. The pretty old town is located on a promontory and is surrounded by the massive fortress walls of a Dutch fort. In a pleasant breeze we take a walk on the approximately 3 km long wall while we have a beautiful view of the city and the sea. At lunchtime we can stop in a small café on one of the picturesque cobblestone streets of the car-free city center. In the afternoon we drive to our beach resort on the southwest coast.

16. Geoffrey Bawa's country seat | Dinner with a businesswoman

The morning is free at the beach resort. Around noon we drive to the Lunuganga Estate, the idyllic country estate of Geoffrey Bawas. Bawa was one of the most influential architects in Asia and is considered a pioneer in building close to nature. By his death in 2003 he had built over 90 buildings, most of them in his native Sri Lanka. Lunuganga was his heart project, it took four decades until the total work of art was completed. On our tour through the property we see what distinguishes its architecture: permeable indoor and outdoor spaces, long axes, planted inner courtyards and large verandas. For dinner we are expected at the Rock Villa. The villa in Bentota is part of a small chain of exclusive boutique hotels under the leadership of Ms. Nayntara Fonseka. If time permits, the hostess will join us for dinner. The charismatic designer and entrepreneur has a lot to report about the economic situation and the role of women in Sri Lanka.

17. + 18. Free time on the beach & journey home

Today you can relax again on Induruwawa beach. Your room is available until departure. Probably in the afternoon transfer to the airport and flight home in the late evening. Arrival in Germany the next day.

Payment by credit card is possible. The amount of the discount varies depending on the credit card. You are welcome to inquire about these at ZEIT REISEN.
Business class surcharge on request
If the minimum number of participants is not reached, the organizer can withdraw from the travel contract up to 21 days before the start of the journey.
Your trip produces 3,728 kg of CO2 emissions, which you can offset at atmosfair with a contribution of € 86.
This trip is generally not suitable for people with limited mobility. For more information, please call us.
We ask you to note that within the scope of the meals included during the trip, the beverages must be selected and paid for on their own (unless otherwise stated). In this context, a note on tips: Tips for drivers, local guides and hotel or restaurant staff should in any case be an expression of satisfaction and are considered by the recipients as personal recognition of the service provided. Please take this into account for your travel budget.

Destination information

Use the link below to find useful information and tips on your travel destination. The focus is on the topics of travel warnings, passport and visa regulations, money, contact addresses, communication and the climate.

Destination information

Included services:

  • Flights Frankfurt – Colombo – Frankfurt (Economy Class) including taxes and fees
  • 15 nights with breakfast
  • 1x picnic, 14x dinner
  • All transfers according to the program in a private vehicle
  • Ride by private boat, train rides according to the program
  • City tours, roundtables, sightseeing, cooking in a private house, jeep safari and admissions according to the detailed program
  • One DuMont travel guide per booking

Services not included:

  • Rail & Fly to / from DB train station: € 75
  • Visa Sri Lanka (currently 35 US $)
  • Optional excursions
  • Meals and drinks not listed
  • Our partner, HanseMerkur, will be happy to offer you comprehensive travel protection

Hotels

Galle Face **** Colombo (2 nights)