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Sri Lanka is a charming country as the neighbour of India. It is now one of the most desirable destinations for architects and tourists. Most of the population are called as Sinhalese, and Buddhism is the biggest religion in Sri Lanka. We traveled in a group, which most of us are architects and designers. The trip was planned as the architectural sightseeing and resorts jumping, where the main focus was to visit the works of Geoffrey Bawa. He was renowned architect in Sri Lanka, famous by his incredible talent and numbers of pleasantly designed colonial buildings.
Firstly, we stayed in Heritance Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla, the most legendary design of Bawa. The building was made in the middle of jungle, designed as unity into the wild nature. Natural giant rocks accentuate the spacious entrance that gives the feeling of wilderness environment. The interior enhances the simple geometry and clean design, combining black and white colour and blending with the natural elements.
Secondly, staying in a luxury tent in the newly established Aliya Resort & Spa was one of memorable experience for us. The second luxury tent we tried was Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, which located in the high land of Kandy. Both of the places gave us opportunity to feel the rural lifestyle, with the sound of crickets accompanied to sleep. By the morning in Eco Lodge, we could see the breath-taking view above the cloud of the wide famous Ceylon’s tea plantation.
We visited many other Bawa’s buildings and Sri Lanka’s sightseeing. One of them was Geoffrey Bawa’s private house, Lunuganga in Bentota, and the rustic touch of the place brought us back into the old time. There were many antique furnitures and interior elements such as tiles, lamps, window frames.
Beside the architectural places, we visited World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya Lion Rock and the ancient palace, central Matale District. Here we challenged ourselves to climb the Lion Rock (365m above sea level) through the steep metal stairs and narrow paths. The top of the rock was used to be the king’s private room. From above, we could see the bird-view of the best preserved example of ancient urban planning. However, it was a foggy day when I arrived and I could not see the top of the rock from the ground. I would suggest you to choose a sunny day to go here.
The other World Heritage Site is Dambulla Cave Temple, where amazing ancient temple with 157 statues of Buddha was built inside the cave. We should take off our shoes to walk around this sacred area, and we were offered a small tour by the local to explore the 5 caves, starting from the latest cave to the oldest. The ceiling of the cave took my attention and it was coloured beautifully with many historical drawings.
Last but not least, don’t forget to visit Colombo as the capital city of Sri Lanka. Colombo has go beyond my expectation when I first touched down my feet, it was a beautiful developing city with beautiful colonial buildings. Spend some time to go shopping in Colombo’s famous souvenirs shop, Barefoot and Odel. They have many creative and cutting-edge design of souvenirs and stuffs to be brought home. If you love seafood and especially crabs, my recommendation for restaurant is to try Ministry of Crab. They sell various type of crab from the smallest size to the huge Crabzilla, with various type of sauces and cooking methods. Have fun!
Day 1 : Arrive in Bandaranaike (Colombo International Airport) — we rent a car for 6 days including the driver his place to stay at night — heading to Dambulla, enjoy the Hotel and it’s architecture (Stay in: Heritance Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla).
Day 2 : Cultural trip in Lion Rock & Lion Gate in Sigiriya (pick a sunny day, be careful with the aggressive porter – they will ask you for unreasonable tips, spend around 4-5 hours if you decide to climb the rock and have a tour) — heading back to Sigiriya in the evening, enjoy the luxury tent, pool, dining, and spa in the Hotel (Stay in: Aliya Resort & Spa in Sigiriya)
Day 3 : Cultural trip in Dambulla Cave Temple, Dambulla (near to Sigiriya, only takes 30 minutes by car, spend 3 hours to walk and explore the whole area) — heading to Kandy and explore Kandy (the cultural city of Sri Lanka) — heading to Hotel, don’t leave too late, go before the sunset because the road to the hotel was a hardcore with big cliffs on the side of the road (Stay in: Madulkelle Eco Lodge in rural area of Kandy)
Day 4 : Enjoy the hotel and natural surroundings in the morning — heading to Bentota, it takes around 6 hours drive from Kandy to Bentota — enjoy resort and the beach (Stay in: Avani Resort in Bentota)
Day 5 : Architectural trip, heading to Geoffrey Bawa’s private house, Lunuganga in Bentota — continue to Galle to see Bawa’s masterpieces: the colonial Amangala Hotel and if you still have more time, visit Jetwing Lighthouse — heading back to Colombo, explore the capital city, go souvenir shopping and find some good food in nice bars and restaurants. (Stay in: Cinnamon Red Colombo).
Day 6 : Depart from Bandarnaike (Colombo International Airport), and go home.
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