9. From Kandy: Ancient Heritage of Sri Lanka 2-Day Guided Tour
Embark on a 2-day tour of Sri Lanka’s cultural history, including one of its most famous National Parks. Explore the sacred city of Anuradhapura, Dambulla Golden Cave Temple, and Wilpattu National Park.
Day 1: Kandy – Dambulla – Anuradhapura
Start your journey at 7:00 AM with hotel pickup in Kandy. Hop into an air-conditioned vehicle and head for Dambulla to your first stop: the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, dating back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Gautama Buddha. Marvel at the hundreds of Buddha figurines and other deities scattered across the 5 main caves. You’ll also see the giant golden Buddha statue just a little distance outside the cave complex and hear the tales of this ancient kingdom.
Afterwards, head to Anuradhapura where you’ll check into your hotel for a short rest. In the evening, explore the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, which served as the country’s capital for over a millennium until the 10th century AD. See its pagodas, monastic buildings, and ponds scattered over a vast area. Visit important landmarks, like Jetavanarama, one of the tallest buildings of the ancient world; the Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment; and the huge Abhayagiri Monastery. Learn about the fascinating history of this region as you walk in the footsteps of kings.
Day 2: Anuradhapura – Wilpattu – Kandy
Early in the morning, head to Wilpattu National Park for a jeep safari. Feel the call of the wild as you catch sight of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard—this National Park is believed to have the highest concentration of leopards in the entire world. See hundreds of other types of wildlife such as deer, buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, and rare birds. Get the photographs of a lifetime of these curious creatures.
After the safari, return to your hotel for a short rest before setting off again for a visit to Mihintale Rock. This is the place where Buddhism began in Sri Lanka, the spot where King Devanampiyatissa and Monk Mahina met. View the monastic ruins at the foot of the mountain and walk in the footsteps of Mahina as you visit the cave where he lived. See historic stupas (commemorative monuments) as you wander the ruins of an age long past, helping you to understand its impact on the history and current state of Sri Lanka. After this final visit, you’ll head back to your hotel in Kandy.