Be fascinated by the masterworks of Geoffrey Bawa, the most celebrated architect of Sri Lanka, as well as some other star pupils…. Venture towards the cultural triangle spending a few nights in Geoffrey Bawa designed hotels and fully immerse yourself in all things architecture!
This itinerary has been carefully designed to give you a taste of the exciting, endless possibilities and can be tailored to suit your exact preferences.
Drive Time : Approximately 25 minute drive
Accommodation : Jetwing Lagoon, Negombo
At the airport you will be greeted by our Jetwing Representative and your Chauffer Guide who will take you to the modern beach town of Negombo.
Check-in to the charming Hotel – Jetwing Lagoon and rest and relax to recover from any jet lag.
Renowned as one of Bawa’s pioneering ventures; Jetwing Lagoon is located on the shore of Negombo’s famous lagoon amidst sprawling gardens with temple trees and is a perfect getaway to get your bearings when arriving in Sri Lanka!
Time in the long pool will soothe your soul. As availability permits you’ll stay in the infamous ‘The Bawa Room’ – a value addition to kick-start your Bawa journey!
If you have spare time, your chauffeur will introduce you to some of Negombo’s curious sites as the Dutch churches or a boat ride along the Dutch canals!
Drive Time : Approximately 4 and half hour drive
Accommodation : Heritance Kandalama
Early morning, embark on an off-the beaten experience by visiting the infamous fish market in Negombo known as the ‘Lellama’. Walk on the beach and watch fishermen untangle their fishing nets and witness the fish being auctioned & sold to retail & commercial customers alike.
Set off from coastal Negombo to experience the inland delights of Sri Lanka.
As you drive past lush paddy fields, you will meet the small town of Kajugama where you could buy some crunchy cashews to nibble on the way. Roasted Kadju is the most-loved form of this much-loved snack ranging from raw, spiced to fried nuts!
After devouring to a village lunch gradually make your way to the sacred city of Anuradhapura to explore the island’s most reminiscent ruins. The sprawling complex contains a rich collection of archaeological and architectural wonders: enormous dagobas (brick stupas), royal palace pools where the royalty bathed and crumbling temples where the villagers worshipped built during Anuradhapura’s thousand years of rule over Sri Lanka. Revel over the rock carvings and art of Isurumuniya, see the wonder of the oldest tree; Sri Maha Bodiya and marvel over the architecture of the temples still in part preserved from the ancient civilization.
After a gratifying day, arrive at Bawa’s most tranquil haven perched on the hills. You will realize that the very structure of tonight’s hotel in Kandalama is well worth this journey – Heritance Kandalama is built not on flat land but upon a mountain side, surrounded by a jungle overlooking the Kandalama Lake. Bawa’s work is characterized by sensitivity to the site and context and you will see how truly it is reflected in this masterpiece!
Drive Time : Approximately 3 and half hour drive
Accommodation : Heritance Kandalama
Begin the morning, by ascending the mesmerizing rock fortress of Sigiriya – a 5th Century “Fortress in the Sky”. Rising vividly from the central plains, this mysterious rocky outcrop is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most theatrical sight. Near-vertical walls ascend to a flat-topped peak that contains the remains of an early civilisation, thought to be formerly the epicenter of the brief kingdom of King Kassapa.
In the afternoon learn about the better kept ruins of ancient Ceylon in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Polonnaruwa; home to the Sinhalese kings and queens of old. Without a doubt, the best way to explore the ancient city is by bicycle where you will meander through stupas, ancient palaces, temples, Buddha statues and more. The most notable ruins and temples you will witness are the Royal Palace, vatadage (Sacred Quadrangle), Kiri vehara, Buddha figures at Gal Vihara, Lankathilaka Vihara and the audience Hall. If you need to take a break don’t fret and make sure that you stop off at many of the coconut and drink points.
Top Tip| Ensure you take off your shoes if instructed when walking around on the ancient sites and never get a photo with your back to the Buddha Statues.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of culture, we also suggest you embark on a slow and scenic catamaran ride along the Polonnaruwa Lake, one of the best locations for bird watching and sometimes elephants in search of water during hot and dry months. En-route, stop at a village home for “Plain Tea” with Treacle and “Helapa”, a traditional Sri Lankan snack that can refresh you.
Drive Time : Approximately 3 hour drive
Accommodation : Kandy House
Today you will be taken to the Hill capital of Kandy; a countryside hamlet with cool breezes, leafy green landscapes and misty mountains gathered around a mesmerizing lake.
En route, break your journey at the Spice gardens in Matale to see how Ceylon spices are manufactured and learn the merits and health properties of herbs, spices and plants including cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, aloe vera, cloves, coriander, cardamom, coffee, pepper, and the henna plant.
Gradually continue your journey to the Matale Heritage Centre to witness the artistic designs of Mrs. Ena de Silva – a close friend and collaborator of Geoffrey Bawa who contributed many artifacts to his projects. Be mesmerized by the hand art and craft products made by the village ladies that help in aiding thier empowerment.
Before dusk sets in, reach the rolling hills of the Buddhist capital and explore the charming streets of Kandy to try your hand at different local delicacies. Start the trip with some exotic fruits in the market and learn about the various regional vegetables and their uses. Head to the women’s co-operative for some authentic snacks that you’d only get to try if you knew someone’s grandmother! Finally end the walk with some curd and treacle to cool you down.
Follow the sound of the evening drums to pay a visit to the Temple of the Tooth. Join the Buddhists who, dressed in all white, offer puja while catching a glimpse of the great sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. The gold-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth holds Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist artifact – a tooth of Lord Buddha. During ‘puja’ (offerings or prayers), the protected chamber housing the same is open to worshipers and visitors.
Pick a flower from the flower market in the city square and offer it to the Temple along with a lit oil lamp for good fortune and peace.
By twilight retreat to the comforts of your cozy private home in the hills; an ancestral manor house ideal for a perfect gateway!
Drive Time : Approximately 6 hour train ride
Accommodation : 98 Acres Resort and Spa
After a lovely breakfast, you will travel further south into the verdant green hills of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful and magic region – the Hill Country – proceeding to the charming town of Ella.
You will take winding roads through gorgeously lush plantations, past tea bushes trimmed by regular picking and if you’re lucky you’ll see the bright flash of female “tea pluckers” in their pimento, fuchsia and cerise saris harvesting tea leaves in the fields.
Break your journey in the lush hills of Bandarawela to take a peek at the granite built Bandarawela Chapel of the Good Shepherd’s Convent; designed both by Geoffrey Bawa and Ulrik Plesner.
Before dusk settles in, gradually continue your drive down the mountain to the charming town of Ella; a small village, huddled away in misty mountains, gushing waterfalls and offering the bliss of natural beauty, coziness, pressure hikes and adventure.
You can spend your evening having a friendly chat over a freshly brewed cup of tea or explore the mountain ranges and tea plantations, hike or mountain bike across one spectacular view to the next or zip-line over the hills or stop to admire the cascading Ravana Ella waterfalls and the iconic Demodara Nine Arch Bridge.
By dusk, retreat to your luxurious resort set amidst stunning mountains on a scenic 98 acre tea estate. Spend your evening leisurely in this paradise resort drinking in the breath taking vistas!
Drive Time : Approx. 4 and half hour drive
Accommodation : Jetwing Lighthouse
After a couple of civilized days in the tea country, you may be ready to explore the island’s sun and surf. You’ve waited long enough! Today you will descend the hills and head south to reach Sri Lanka’s pristine coastline – the historical city of Galle. One of Sri Lanka’s charms is that how in a short time you will pass from the hills to the meandering rivers, past the farms and then to the idyllic Southern coast until you meet Galle – a perfect combination of Blue Ocean, history and culture!
Today we recommend you drop by another one of Bawa’s works– the Ruhuna University Campus and the Matara Office building. In between we also suggest you drop in for lunch at the Heritance Ahungalla hotel, where Bawa created features such as interconnecting expanses of water that lead guests into the hotel.
The last House in Tangalle is also surely worth a visit! This luxury seaside escape’s airy, antique-filled interiors spill into al fresco spaces as if no boundaries exist.
Gradually continue your journey to the historical city of Galle. Interestingly, Galle is a living world heritage site that you can explore by a leisurely walk in the afternoon. Explore on foot, an endlessly exotic old trading port blessed with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient mosques and churches, quirky boutiques, grand mansions and museums, stylish cafes, impeccably restored hotels and cafes serving yummy food and cold beer.
By twilight, retreat to the luxurious Jetwing Lighthouse; one of the last major masterpieces by Bawa and remains one of his most admired projects to this date!
Accommodation : Jetwing Lighthouse
Another Day in Galle and today you will explore two projects of Bawa’s work in the nearby beach towns.
Back in the historic city of Galle, those adventurous fanatics can cycle through Galle Fort’s sleepy, cobblestone streets into its neighboring villages and markets to experience the quiet, peaceful lifestyle in the southern coast. Appease your thirst to a freshly squeezed juice, smoothie or coconut water to ensure you stay hydrated!
If you do not want to cycle up for hours, you could tap into your artistic side by learning ways of painting a traditional Sri Lankan mask with the help of a renowned artist.
Alternatively, why not treat yourself with a long luxurious afternoon on the beach? You could visit the beaches of Hikkaduwa and snorkel among the corals or else you can also visit the secret beaches of Delawella and Hiriketiya to have a truly memorable beach experience.
Drive Time : Approx 2 and half hour drive
Accommodation : Galle Face Hotel
Wind down the latter two days of your stay in the island’s urban center of Colombo. Sri Lanka’s modern commercial capital, Colombo combines colonial and contemporary architecture along its bustling streets, from the English-style cricket green, to the grand Independence Hall, to sunset views from the Galle Face Hotel terrace.
Before reaching the capital, make a quick de-tour to visit Lunuganga; the splendid country house of Bawa for many years. While you walk through, you will be amazed by the spectacular gardens, building structural designs and the flawless landscapes so that one gets stunning views from anywhere of the garden. It is a paradise if you are in to Bawa‘s eccentric style!
Top Tip| Ensure you time a visit for a tour at 9:30am or 2:00pm.
As opportunity arises, you could also drop by the Brief Garden, owned by the architect’s brother! Keep driving through rice-paddy fields; veer down a few roads and meet the small handmade signpost with “Brief” indicating the turn off to enter a luscious corridor driveway. This legendary garden offers a number of inviting corners, hilly slopes, stone steps and cooling ponds. Do also take the time to stroll through his residence which takes you through a myriad of different paintings, sculptures, exquisite Dutch furniture and wall hangings.
Also en route, gradually make your way to visit Club Villa; a 19th century Dutch Colonial boutique villa set amidst beautiful gardens along the shoreline and re-designed by Bawa in 1980. The also drop into Paradise Road Villa Bentota for a quick snack.
Drop in for a refreshing cuppa tea at Heritance Ahungalla and an educational tour at Blue Water hotel Wadduwa.
Retire for the night to sojourn at Galle Face Hotel; an iconic landmark situated in the heart of Colombo along the seafront and facing the infamous Galle Face Green.
Drive Time : N/A
Accommodation : Galle Face Hotel
Another Day in Colombo and you will experience some of the last of Bawa’s notable work within the city’s limits.
Arrive at Bawa’s very residence at No. 11 for a comprehensive tour. The Geoffrey Bawa residence is considered a special architectural marvel which also houses art and artifacts from the collection of the Late Archt. Bawa. Only the two-bedroom Visitor’s Suite in this heritage property is rented to guests with the rest of the property kept intact for those that come by to learn of this world famous architect. (Subjected to guided times)
Gradually continue to pay a visit to the Seema Malaka Buddhist Temple which was initially built in the 19th century after it sunk into the water and thereafter was re-designed and constructed by Bawa. As opportunity arises, we will also obtain a special permission to explore the modernist framework of Bawa’s notable government building; the Sri Lankan parliament complex!
Your afternoon entails having our chauffeur guide introduce you to some of Colombo’s curious sites such as the old city of Fort, the Hindu Temple at Sea Street, Dutch Church at Wolfendal, Red Mosque, the Khan clock tower and a peek at the island’s premier cultural institution; the Colombo National Museum. For any last-minute souvenirs we suggest you make a quick stop at Selyn or Barefoot; pretty shops gathering the products of many local artisans.
Alternatively, why not have some street food in Colombo! Explore on street food scene and eat, eat, eat like a local! Experience the unique mix of Sinhala, Muslim, Tamil, and Malay food cultures. Explore Pettah busy streets and visit local markets.
Wind down for a dinner at Bawa’s former office; The Paradise Road Gallery Cafe and if possible with the company of Channa Daswatte, who was trained under the master himself.
Drive Time : Approximately 1 hour
Brimmed with a rewarding journey of exploring the masterpieces of a genius architect, your chauffeur guide will return you by way of a scenic drive to the international airport for your departing flight and a safe journey home.
Learn more about the luxurious properties available for your trip.
Located between the Indian Ocean and the Negombo lagoon, Jetwing Lagoon offers a blendn of rejuvenation and relaxation with a unique restaurant called Geoffrey’s by the Lagoon, offering Geoffrey Bawa’s favourites.
A hotel that doesn’t sit on the landscape but is part of it. Where monkeys climb your balcony pillars as if they were trees, swifts nest in the corners of corridors as if they were cliffs, granite crags erupt into the sinuous white walkways.
A passion and deep concern for the environment is reflected in the design and construction of 98 Acres Resort and Spa.The eco-friendly concept and design has ensured that the majority of materials used in the construction have been recycled.