Local News from Sri Lanka: A familiarization tour of Sri Lanka’s historic monuments connected with the Ramayana Legend was organized by SriLankan Airlines, the Sri Lankan National Carrier and a member of the Oneworld alliance. The familiarization tour offered a chance for visiting social media influencers and travel authors to immerse themselves in an all-encompassing destination experience from the perspective of a legend that has linked the two countries since time immemorial.
Day one of the tour saw them visiting Chilaw Temples of Munneswaram and Manawari, whose origins are strongly linked to Lord Rama. Visitors were fascinated by the legend’s connotation of these temples ‘ places and architectural grandeur, frequented by all faiths by Sri Lankans. The day concluded with a Dambulla overnight stay.
The second day began with the group visiting Sigiriya’s Lion Rock, which is thought to have been King Kuvera’s palace that King Ravana later occupied after defeating the former. Today, it is a UNESCO world heritage site with remains of the fortress built in the 5th century by King Kasyapa. Before heading off to Trincomalee, the team also explored Dambulla’s Golden Temple.
Tirukoneswaram Temple was the highlight of the day where King Ravana, believed to have been an ardent worshipper of God Shiva, meditated. It is said the original temple built by him is submerged in the sea and the current temple was built on the rock much later. They enjoyed an overnight stay by the beach in Trincomalee before an early start the following day which took them to the cool climes of the central hills.
Day three of the tour took them to Sri Bhaktha Hanuman Temple in Ramboda, built by Chinmaya Mission of Si Lanka, which houses a 16 ft statue of Lord Hanuman. They also visited Gayathri Peedam, which is believed to be the place where King Ravana’s son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva and was in return gifted with supernatural powers.
Sita Amman Temple was also a place of fascination among the travelers for its picturesque location and the important association with the legend. The temple dedicated to Lord Rama, Luxmana and Lady Sita was believed to have been built by Lord Hanuman to reminisce Lady Sita’s presence at the location.
The most popular sight of the tour was Hakgala Botanical Gardens, which is known as ‘Ashoka Vatika’ in the Ramayana legend, the pleasure gardens of King Ravana which is believed to have been gifted to Lady Sita to lessen her sorrows. Today, the Garden is home to over 10,000 species of flora and is famed for its roses and orchids.
Travel writer and Instagrammer Ms. Lakshmi Sharath said, “It was a truly a divine and wonderful experience to be on the Ramayana tour in Sri Lanka and am very grateful for the same. We literally crisscrossed the country and followed in the paths of Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman to find Seetha. But the tour itself was more about discovering the beauty and diversity of Sri Lanka, the various landscapes, the culture and the cuisine. I do hope to come back and explore more of the country.”
The tourists also had the opportunity of witnessing various ways in which devotion is expressed at Kataragama temple, during the Perahera season. The last stop of the legendary trail was Kelaniya Temple, the abode of Lord Vibheeshana who supported Lord Rama in his quest.
The visitors were also delighted by the hospitality of the iconic properties such as Heritance Kandalama, Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya, Trinco Blu by Cinnamon and Taj Bentota Resort and Spa. Aitken Spence assisted the National Carrier with the ground transportation and logistics in this endeavor.
This familiarization tour has been part of the National Carrier’s endeavors to convey the world that Sri Lanka is a safe and friendly destination, post-Easter.