Geoffrey Bawa Architecture
Explore Architecture’s of Geoffrey BawaComprehensive study tour of Sri Lankan architecture for Uni students – 6N/7D – All meals
Emphasis; Geoffrey Bawa creations and traditional and colonial time Sri Lankan architecture
Accommodation; Budget with meal arrangements at all the luxury sites associated with Mr Bawa
Arrival at Colombo International Airport.
Jetwing Lagoon resort
Welcome and transfer to Jetwing Lagoon resort for the overnight stay. This is one of the great early Geofery Bawa designed resorts now salvaged and restored very tastefully with all four star comforts and opened to the public only very recently. The resort is built, sandwiched between the vast Negombo lagoon and the sea and boasts of one of the largest pools in the Island. A fine mangrove cover skirts the resort and totally engrossed in the prevailing silence, one could sit on the wooden deck facing the fascinating lagoon with one’s favorite cocktail at hand and watch the wavelets lapping the deck ever so gently. The amazing laid back ambiance will be a fine beginning to the pearl of the Indian Ocean and Mr Geoffrey Bawa.
Negombo is a former Portuguese and Dutch colony and is one of the main fishing habours of the Island. A morning visit to the lagoon- mouth will thrill you to the limit when ancient catamarans and modern motor boats return cheek by jowl to the shore after competing for their night’s catch. The ensuring chaos of sorting, buying and selling with torrent of bargaining will surely leave a visitor spellbound by the coarse exchanges itself not to mention its heart-stopping seaside character. You could also visit the vast beach of the cape they use for drying fish if only if you could bear the stench. But it’s rather educational. In addition to the prominent activities at the lagoon-mouth and the shoreline, Negombo boasts of some of the finest Catholic Churches in the Island. Alluringly, some date back to the 18th century. You will also be driving along the tourist colony where hotels, guest houses, restaurants, pubs and sea-food outlets dress up the road side making the famed colony fabulously bright and ever so gay.
Dinner at a sea-food restaurant.
Once you leave the bustle of the city you will be driving into the vastness of farming country where coconut and paddy feature prominently and upon passing the historical city of Kurunegala the vegetation changes rapidly from lush crops to a more dry and deciduous forest cover which is the unique landscape in Sri Lanka that is much sought after by the visiting tourists.
Kandalama ResortUpon arrival in Kandalama area visit the Heritance Kandalama resort that is built amidst a virgin forest clad range of hillocks that overlooks a vast ancient lake. The setting is simply magical and may not be found in the same magnitude anywhere else in the World. The surrounding forests are home for wild elephants and elusive leopards and at dusk when the speck-less sky is bathed in an orange tint, you could watch from your own balcony or from hotel’s numerous open terraces and lovely pool-decks, thousands of aquatic birds in silhouette, flying in fine formations to an uninhabited island situated in the middle of the lake to roost for the advancing night. The isolation and the tranquility of the stunning landscape with Mr Geoffrey Bawa's architectural wonder merging into it so incredibly will lift your spirits to high heavens!
A sumptuous buffet lunch awaits you during which time you will get to study the property.
Afterwards proceed to Sigiriya, not too far, on a study tour.
Sigiriya rock fortress
The spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya belongs to the 5th century. It’s yet another world heritage site. Different theories of its creation are published by eminent archaeologists. Some say that once a Kingdom of a King was later used by monks as a monastery complex.
Whichever the theory, the 640 foot gigantic rock striking into the clouds from the arid flat plains by itself presents an inscrutable mystery to most. As you approach the great fortress, firstly you’ll get to brave the deep moat built right around the rock that had been infested with man-eating crocodiles during the King’s time. The pleasure gardens of the King comes next in where during the rainy season, water fountains still emits a substantial spray most astonishingly. After you pass the classic rock garden and walk through stunning boulders that may have held many impressive structures together as guard points in ancient times, you’ll proceed towards the all important cavity in the rock located halfway up where the world famous frescoes of the beautiful maidens are found, drawn and painted on the very rock-wall in natural colors so miraculously. This indeed is a masterpiece that is priceless.
At certain times of the year you could watch nesting peregrine falcons in some of the other cavities on the rock-wall.
Afterwards, proceed to the colossal Lions paw made of bricks, climbing further along the incredible mirror wall on which the yesteryear admirers of the paintings wrote poetic verses delineating what they saw in quaint, early Sinhalese characters, perhaps readable only to archaeologists. A further adventurous climb from the Lion’s paw will take you to the flat summit of the rock to enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the Island, that of the ever-green tree canopy of the Island’s dry zone that is seen dotted with ancient man-made lakes every now and then. The immediate area surrounding the rock is a declared sanctuary in where wild elephants and other game still roam. On the peak you will also come across the King’s court, remains of his living quarters and his pool complex, presently opening out to the heavens in the absence of any shelter! The mystique fortress that is sadly dead now leaves its wonderful legacy for you to visualize its heyday with so much ease.
Dinner and overnight at Sandadiya resort or similar in the vicinity.
Leave for Kandy. En route visit the Dambulla cave temple and a spice garden on a study tour; and Poppom’s arboretum; an enchanting 40 acre forest planted by Mr Bawa’s associate in which Mr Bawa built a lovely rock-house for his friend to reside. The property and the plant nursery are very much intact still and is run by a trust. (If the arboretum is opened to the public only – certain days it is not)
Dambulla cave temple is situated close by; yet another world heritage site where in five pre historic caves you’ll find not only fantastic colorful drawings, mostly of Buddha and events of his life painted on the rock-wall but some outstanding sculpture work as well. Some do date back to the distant 1st century. The paintings are perhaps second only to the ones at Ajantha and Ellora in Aurangabad in India. Eminent painters who visit the caves as an essential part of their itinerary are often mesmerized by the creation of such rich colors, so soothing to the eye, so early in civilization, and wonder at the mystery of the treasured paintings to survive all these centuries!
The Island had been famous for its spices since the medieval times and is considered as one of the main reasons for the Europeans to conquer the Island and for the Arabs to trade upon from the 14th century onwards. The most interesting feature would be the opportunity you’ll get to identify the real plants of spices you are so familiar with in your day to day life. A qualified guide will do a conducted tour of the garden and a presentation of its products.
Upon arrival in Kandy commence a study tour of the great temple cluster and its unique King’s time architecture related to the history.
During your stay you could explore the ever so quaint Kandy; the last Kingdom, visiting the temple of the sacred tooth relic; the most important place of worship for Buddhists world-over at which place you’ll get to participate in a colorful ceremony to the tune of the Eastern tom toms. It will be full of culture and timeless ritual. At 0530 PM you will be in an audience to watch the traditional cultural dance, actually a symbolic glimpse at 2500 years of heritage!
You’ll also visit the upper lake area to catch a bird’s view of this fascinating lake city and the great temple cluster that is declared as a world heritage site now. A visit to the botanical gardens will thrill you for it is the only one of its kind in this part of the world. Being the pleasure gardens of the Queen once and found hugging a shaded river, you could stroll under fine the shadow of great trees for hours passing manicured lawns and lovely flowering shrubs in wooded groves. A visit to the famous orchid house is a must for orchid lovers. Evening, one could walk around the Kandy Lake and along its paved paths with the great Temple in the back-drop enjoying the cool breeze flowing freely from the distant hills. Kandy being the last Kingdom offer valuable souvenirs in handicraft and gems. Sri Lanka is the only country in the world in which world famous blue sapphires are found in its pure original form.
Dinner and overnight at Kandy Mount Villa.
After breakfast free for more Kandy era temple visits, namely Gadaladenya, Lankatilleke and the Embekke shrine for a further study of the Kandy era architecture and famed wood-carving. Afterwards proceed to Galle. Lunch en route. Upon arrival check into Neptune Bay resort by the fascinating Unawatuna Beach for a 2 nights stay.
At a midpoint you will join the new express-way that will take you Galle in just under fifty minutes from that point. You are sure to be mesmerized by the scenic beauty of this inland route as the untouched landscape is bound to change with every mile you pass with paddy, coconut, palms, rubber, tea and cinnamon cultivations filling it and at times merging into one another. As you ascend low elevations you will get to pass some great rock formations that decorate the flanks with authority.
Unawatuna is considered to be one of the best bays for water sports in Asia. During its prime season between December and March the vast bay transforms into a magical tourist colony with numerous resorts, sea food restaurants, pubs, discos, spas and what not with their fine illumination and vibrancy, opening into the lovely sandy beach stretching right around it. Towards evening you could travel further South to look at the stilt fishermen and may be to visit a 200 year old temple, picturesquely built on a rocky bank of a lake at Koggala. The setting sun at this point with its incredible panorama will surely steal your hearts.
Dinner and overnight at Neptune Bay Resort.
After breakfast you will visit the Ruhunu university which was built by Mr Bawa in the early eighties. Since the interiors had changed so much since his time it would be more educational to note the structures from a distance.
Light House hotel
Lunch will be served at the famous Light House hotel, another remarkable Geoffrey Bawa creation during which time a study tour will be conducted.
After lunch visit the 17th century Dutch Fort; one of the best spots in Asia, to study the colonial Dutch architecture that was freely used by Sri Lankan architects. Mr Bawa too may have mixed this concept with the traditional Sri Lankan architecture of the King’s time.
At Galle you’ll find the 17th century Dutch Fort that is now declared as a World Heritage Site. In a vast isthmus protected by a massive rock wall built around it, you would come across grand churches, great Dutch buildings, ancient garrisons and cannon positions, maze of court yards, paved assembling positions all well connected by cobblestone streets and then a lovely maritime museum, everything restored to its former glory after the devastating Tsunami in 2004. Actually most of it was generously funded by the Dutch Government. The British built a classic light house in 1848 and you could saunter from the light house to the entrance of the Fort along a paved path virtually on the towering Fort-wall enjoying the view of the rocky sea beach and its aquamarine waters on one side and the great Fort on the other. There is the famous Amangalle resort; an exclusive up market property built during the Dutch times, famous for its cozy yesteryear ambiance. It was formally known as the NOH and you could visit the colonial hotel for a cup of tea or for lunch if you wish to go back to the 18th century world that would surely likely to unfold in front of you at the charming Amangalla.
Dinner and overnight at Neptune Bay resort.
The Heritance Ahungalle
Check out early morning and head towards Ahungalle. Here you will be visiting one of Sri Lanka’s prime Mr Bawa designed properties which is now called The Heritance Ahungalle. During Mr Bawa’s time in the late seventies it was known as The Triton. In addition to his famous “space theory” here, Mr Bawa uses the effect of seamless color of blue to a great effect in getting the vast pool of the resort to merge so incredibly with the aquamarine sea and then the speckles blue sky. You will be doing your study tour of the property over the breakfast.
Afterwards, you will visit Mr Bawa’s magical wonder of a garden “Lunuganga” and “The Brief” found located by the Bentota Lake, on a study tour. It is only a half hour drive from The Heritance. It was owned by his brother late Mr Bevis Bawa and is regarded as one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens in the tropics.
Then proceed to Bentota Beach Hotel found just around the corner. It was designed by Mr Geoffery Bawa in the early 70’s and stands as one of his most outstanding creations.
Bentota Beach Hotel
Built in one of the prime building sites in Sri Lanka found sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and the alluring lagoon, the resort with its vast and immaculately maintained garden opens out to the pristine beach of Bentota. Also, this is the beach that has best water sports facilities on the West coast. The hotel pool is carved out of natural rock and a foot-path from it leads one either to the beach or to the wafer-thin stretch of sand separating the sea from the lagoon. Another important factor is the use of giant frangipani trees to surround the buildings as you find in any rock temple of Ceylon where the scented and seductive white flowers are allowed to fall at the foot of the tree and numerous water bodies around.
A buffet lunch awaits you at the Bentota Beach Hotel and you will be doing a tour of the hotel over lunch.
The Mohotti Villa
After lunch a stroll along the beach will put your eyes in touch with two other Geoffery Bawa creations, the enchanting “The Mohotti Villa” and the timeless “ Serendib”(Now called The Avani ). You may have to be content with the view from the sea though! Ultimate traditional Sri Lankan architecture portrayed so well by the world renowned Sri Lanka architect late Mr Geoffrey Bawa. No other beach property in Sri Lanka offer such refined taste in lay-outs and décor …..
The Blue Water
A further one hours’ drive towards Colombo will get you to arrive at the last resort Mr Bawa built “The Blue Water” in which he had used the “the space theory” to the limit. It is more modern in comparison to others. You will get to have tea served while you are engaged in scrutinizing and sketching. Afterwards proceed to Colombo and check into Palm Beach Hotel or similar. Dinner at the hotel.
Full day free to explore the city of Colombo, the great race course pavilion, now restored to its former glory very tastefully by a team headed by Mr Bawa’s disciples. You will also get to visit some of Mr Bawa’s creations in Colombo, The Integral centre (a religious creation) by a lovely river setting, Agrarian training center, Mahaweli Center and the wonder of the new parliament in the middle of an enchanting lake in addition to a visit to the house he lived at which place you could watch a documentary done on him.
Water’s Edge & The new parliament
Lunch will be arranged at the fascinating Water’s Edge links that overlooks the great swamps of Colombo, not too far from the new parliament which was also built by Mr Bawa. Water’s edge was built by one of Mr Bawa’s closest disciples if not his last, Mr Murad Ismail a decade after Mr Bawa breathed his last.
This area that surrounds a lovely ancient lake had been landscaped very tastefully once again by Mr Bawa’s disciples and developed as a enchanting spot of recreation for the public with paved walk ways, jogging tracks, nature trails etc as part of greater Colombo development.
Your check-out would be at 3 PM and afterwards, proceed on with more sightseeing and last minute shopping in Colombo before you sit down for dinner.
Evening explore the city of Colombo visiting the lovely Galle Face Green; the great British Built lawn overlooking the waterfront of the Indian Ocean, Classic old parliament and the present sky-line of the city integrating into one another so incredibly. It is a city where great colonial era buildings are still left intact and are immaculately maintained to stand side by side with the modern in the most elegant manner. This outlook in fact is not seen so prominently in any other city in Asia. It no doubt speaks volumes of the glorious past attached to the city of Colombo from the 15th century onwards when the ownership of the city changed hands from the King to the Portuguese and then to the Dutch and to the English later, until the Island became a sovereign state once again in 1948. All Europeans left their own footprints in the city and more importantly their values among its people that made the Islanders a great Nation and their capital so pleasingly special. You will get to visit the 17th century Dutch Wolfendhal church, The Museum, the Town Hall and The Victoria Park built by the British, a lovely temple of Buddha in a lake setting and a colorful Hindu shrine. The latest attraction is the tastefully salvaged 400 year old Dutch Hospital in Colombo Fort which is now renovated to its former glory ever so wonderfully. You will find lively pubs, ritzy restaurants offering choice cuisines, coffee and tea houses, up-market spas and even ample shopping, all within the unparallel charm of the vast hospital complex. The area with classic court yards, maze of alluring terraces with seating resembles European thoroughfares of the colonial times. The latest addition to the city is the newly renovated colonial race course which is now an international class rugby grounds where the mammoth grand stand feature great up-market shopping with amazing eating-houses. It is no doubt that this is the oldest colonial grand stand and pavilion in Asia.