Sri Lanka

The Sacred Heart of Sri Lanka with Andrew Harvey

Pilgrimage to the Healing Depths of Buddhist Traditions, Meditation and Art March 1 - 12, 2020

Join author and teacher Andrew Harvey on a pilgrimage to the vibrant sacred sites of Sri Lanka to explore the roots of Buddhism and its enduring spiritual influence.

This spiritual journey will transport you to a magical ancient era when Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka and reveal to you the island’s present-day spiritual soul and outstanding natural beauty. We will explore the stupas and temples at Anuradhapura, visit the famous Sri Maha Bodhi tree, and see many of the sites, such as Mahiyanganaya, Ruwanweliseya and Abayagiriya, where legend says they were hallowed by Lord Buddha during his three visits here. Ceremonies, teachings, and a full day of Sil Observance at a Buddhist temple will deepen our connection to this island. Be sure to check out our journey, Divine Love: Sacred North India with Andrew Harvey, February 13-27, 2020, to take advantage of a unique opportunity to visit both India and Sri Lanka with Andrew. READ MORE

Tour Leader Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is an author, spiritual teacher, and founder of the Institute of Sacred Activism, dedicated to creating a new world founded in universal compassion and sacred passion for all life.


Sri Lanka...a place where your heart opens and your mind can rest, allowing the silence to enter your heart and mind. With the gentle guidance of Andrew Harvey you enter deep into this magical land, filling your heart with love and compassion.Leanne Bird, Australia


Tour Description

Our Tour Leader, Andrew Harvey, shares his passion for Sri Lanka, and his reasons for wanting you to join him on this pilgrimage, in his personal invitation below. On our journey, the hotels have been mindfully chosen for you to experience authentic Sri Lankan hospitality and cuisine in the best possible settings. Be sure to check out our journey, Divine Love: Sacred North India with Andrew Harvey, February 13-27, 2020, to take advantage of a unique opportunity to visit both India and Sri Lanka with Andrew. 

Sigiriya Sacred Tour
The ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, Lion Rock

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled and honoured to invite you on one of the richest and most inspiring pilgrimages you could make in the world today – a pilgrimage into the sacred heart of Sri Lanka, and into the healing depths of its traditions, of Buddhist meditation and art and Ayurvedic healing. Sri Lanka, for all the turbulence of its recent history, remains not only one of the most sheerly – even surreally – beautiful places on earth, but also one of the most authentically magical, a place where the refined and exalted vision of both Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Hinduism, has created a sacred culture of great beauty which is still vibrant and alive.

Polonnaruwa watadage
The ancient structure of Polonnaruwa Vatadage

I spent three months in Sri Lanka when I was 25, at the end of the 1970s. I had taken a year off from my fellowship at All Souls College Oxford to explore Buddhism on the Indian subcontinent: I had read for years about the ancient Buddhist cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura and was passionate to experience them firsthand. I had in fact been hungry to visit Sri Lanka ever since I saw, as a child, coloured photographs of its beaches – long scimitar beaches of white sand glinting in rich red gold light, so extravagantly beautiful they looked hardly real.

Sri Lanka Beaches
We'll enjoy three days at one Sri Lanka's beautiful beaches

Sri Lanka proved far more than I ever could have expected. Nothing less than a revelation that inspired my first novel, set in Sri Lanka, titled One Last Mirror. I had expected to be excited by the beauty of the country; I had not expected the beauty of Sri Lanka’s beaches and ruins and green flowering hills to be so astounding that it began to birth in me a wholly new and praise-filled relationship with the creation. I had always admired the holy precision and rigour of Buddhism, but it was in Sri Lanka that I encountered nakedly the transcendent compassion at the heart of the Buddhist message, radiating from the flower-like faces of the Sri Lankan people, and the sublime sculptures of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapur. The purity and exalted pragmatism of the most ancient tradition Buddhism – Hinayana Buddhism – that is still practiced in Sri Lanka steadied my being in a way that humbled me and began in me a lifelong love for the transforming power of spiritual practice.

Now almost forty years later I will be returning to Sri Lanka with you. I was blessed enough to explore the island in depth when I visited all those years ago, and the tour Sacred Earth Journeys has prepared for us is, to my mind, the perfect, balanced in-depth introduction to the glories I discovered then and long to share with you now.

Sri Lanka 2020
Monks at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy

You will be able to read the lush and wonder-filled itinerary for yourselves and begin to experience a taste of the feast that awaits you. There are three linked aspects of what I pray I can offer you that I want to emphasize.

The first is that I will give you as rich and comprehensive vision of Buddha and Buddhism as I can and will ground our whole journey together in three essential Hinayana practices – Imageless Meditation or Vipassana, Metta, the practice of unconditional universal compassion and Noting, the practice of becoming minutely conscious of your physical and subtle body.

The second aspect of what I want to offer is that I want to share with you the depth of my love for the revelation of sacred art and sacred living that visiting the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa first opened in me forty years ago.

Sri Lanka Buddhist
Buddhism in Sri Lanka is represented everywere

The third part of my offering will be something that is hard to express. What I’m hoping to offer you are simple and powerful ways of experiencing the various forms of Sri Lanka’s astonishing beauty from a conscious inner divine perspective.

As Anandamayi Ma, the great Indian teacher, said, “The true pilgrim is one who seeks darshan – that energy which emanates from the holy. To be a pilgrim is to be always ready for the miracle which overtakes you, to glimpse the hem of God’s robe.”  Sri Lanka is a land of subtle miracles. May we be receptive to them together and “glimpse the hem of God’s robe” in ways that permanently transform our lives.

With love,


Read the invitation in full and share on our blog.
For additional images of  Sri Lanka and our upcoming journey check out our full album on Flickr.

Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka where you will be met at the Colombo airport and transferred to your resort hotel in Negombo (30-minute drive). Your senses are immediately awakened by the tropical air of this island, filled with sweet aromas of the araliya flowers and delicious spices. At your hotel, lie back on a lounger next to the outdoor pool and look out at the Ma Oya river and forest beyond. Freshen up after your flight in your room, professionally designed using Neem wood, which is very well known for its Ayurveda healing properties. Depending on your arrival time, you can explore the charming beach town of Negombo, also known as “Little Rome” for its white glistening churches and active fishing.

In the evening, take part in a group orientation and briefing about the journey to come, followed by a beautiful blessing ceremony with traditional Buddhist chanting. Then, enjoy traditional Sri Lankan cuisine at a Welcome Dinner as you get to know your fellow travellers and tour leader.
(Overnight in Negombo at the Karuna Karala or similar)

Sri Lanka Colombo Fishing

After breakfast this morning, we will check out and begin our journey inland toward the Northern-most point of the Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka’s first ancient capital, Anuradhapura (4.5-hour drive). En route, we can make an optional stop at the Ananthaya Resort in Chilaw for a delicious lunch (at own expense), before continuing on to the Palm Garden Village resort, our tranquil base for the next three nights. The hotel is situated on a secluded 50-acre plot of land that was originally used for chena cultivation, and has been replanted over the past 25 years to create a lush, wildlife-friendly landscape with a mango orchard, medicinal Kohomba trees and much more. Relax in your air-conditioned room before taking a gentle stroll around the grounds, spot the myriad of birds or perhaps an elephant drinking from the property’s water tanks.  

This evening we will learn about the Theravada tradition of Buddhism as practiced in Sri Lanka since its introduction to the island more than 2,500 years ago, and join an evening meditation session with a Buddhist monk.
(Overnight in Anuradhapura at the Palm Garden Village or similar)

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Breakfast at the hotel before making our way to the Ruwanweli Seya stupa for a guided almsgiving ceremony. Often referred to as the Maha Stupa or Mahathupa, this smooth white hemispherical building enshrines a significant amount of Lord Buddha’s relics. One of the largest structures in the ancient world at almost 340ft tall, the construction of this sacred building was commissioned by King Dutugamunu and realized by Arhats. Lord Buddha himself predicted the building of a great stupa at this very location.      

Lunch today (included in tour price) is at the Forest Rock Garden resort where you can savour authentic Sri Lankan spices while breathing in the magnificent views of nature and admiring the stone sculptures on the 50-acre property.

At sunset, we head back into Anuradhapura to the Sri Maha Bodhi sacred fig tree in Mahamewna Gardens, the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, dating from 288BC. It is thought to be the southern branch from the Sri Maha Bodhi at Bodhgaya, India under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Here we will experience a guided monk’s robe offering ceremony to further understand the significance of both cloth and trees in Buddhism.
(Overnight in Anuradhapura at the Palm Garden Village or similar)

Sri Lanka Runwanweli Seya Stupa

Fuel up on a delicious breakfast this morning ahead of a pilgrimage to eight sacred sites within the ancient city of Anuradhapura. Abayagiriya (Abhayagiri Vihara) is an important ancient Theravada Buddhist monastic centre built by King Vaṭṭagamaṇi Abhaya (29–17BC), and is still one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage cities in the nation. Gilt bronze or burnt clay roof tiles adorned this mound-shaped sacred building that remains one of the most extensive ruins in the world. We will also visit the bell-shaped Tuparamaya (Thuparamaya) stupa, the Mirisawetiya stupa and the Jethawanaramaya stupa where a part of a sash or belt tied by the Buddha is believed to be enshrined.

After our guided tour there will be free time for relaxation or personal meditation back at the hotel.
(Overnight in Anuradhapura at the Palm Garden Village or similar)

Pilgrims at Anuradhapura

Breakfast then check out this morning as we make our way to Sigiriya, with a stop at Mihintale, the site of the first monastery in Sri Lanka and considered the cradle of Buddhism in the country. It was here that in the 3rd Century BC Arhat Mahinda met King Devanam Piyatissa and converted him to Buddhism. Mihintale later became the abode of some 3,000 monks, and the Sela Catiya and the surrounding monk cave dwellings are all found in the temple complex. At this mountain-peak pilgrimage site, a stairway of 1840 wide steps leads from the bottom of the rock to the summit. The Urna Lome, the sacred hair relic, is said to be enshrined in Sela Cetiya.       

Enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch (included in tour price) by the “black waters” pond of the nearby Kaludiya Pokuna. We then continue on to the site of the Ritigala Forest monastery where we will participate in a guided walking meditation in the jungle through ancient trees whose branches weave in the forest floor and, if we’re lucky, an elephant to bless our way.

On arrival at our hotel, relax in your air-conditioned room or pull up a lounge chair next to the outdoor pool to capture some of your experiences so far in your journal. 
(Overnight in Dambulla at the Amaya Lake Dambulla or similar)

Sri Lanka Mihintale

During our time in Sigiriya we will continue to explore the principal sites of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. This morning after breakfast we explore the ancient citadel of Polonnaruwa, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the country’s second capital after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. Here we will visit the Gal Viharaya rock temple to see the striking stone sculptures, crafted with incredible skill and artistry during the reign of King Parakrabahu. Four rock relief statues of Buddha in various poses – Samadhi (meditation), sitting, standing and reclining – carved onto a rock face are a highlight of our visit.

Lunch today (included in tour price) will be at a local countryside tavern, and we will also have the option of renting bikes at Polonnaruwa for an excursion (at own expense). 
(Overnight in Dambulla at the Amaya Lake Dambulla or similar)

Sri Lanka Polonaruwa

An early breakfast this morning as we start the day with a climb of the iconic Sigiriya Rock, where King Kasyapa built a royal residence in the second half of the 5th Century.

The complex comprises remnants of the ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains. Views over the jungle from the top are simply breathtaking. (Please note – the climb takes apx. two hours in total. Good walking shoes are recommended – although you will see local children climbing barefoot! Please contact us if you have any concerns about the climb.)

After our climb, we continue on our journey to Kandy, stopping at the magnificent Aluvihare rock temple, where the Pāli Canon was first written down completely in text on ola (palm) leaves, and which still contains the complete Tripitaka library of Buddha’s all-encompassing teachings. Then, proceed to Kandy via a winding mountainous road that will allow you to witness the spectacular beauty of Sri Lanka’s landscapes.

Check in to your hotel and spend a few moments breathing in the views of Kandy city, the misty mountain peaks and verdant landscape. Watch the day gently give way to evening from the outdoor pool terrace as you become enveloped in the hotel’s calming energy, ready for a “Theva” ceremony showcasing the bejewelled chamber containing the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha.
(Overnight in Kandy at the Amaya Hills or similar)

Sri Lanka Sigiriya Rock

Enjoy more of those stunning views this morning as you tuck into an early breakfast at the hotel. We will then travel to the Paramitta Buddhist temple, a secluded monastery, to experience a day in the life of a monk, learning first-hand more about Buddhism as it is still practiced today in Sri Lanka.

Our full-day (8:30am-4:00pm) “Sil” Observance Program transports us away from the busyness of everyday life and our day-to-day routines towards a simpler, more spiritually connected experience. We will observe the canons of Buddhist teachings; listen to a recital of Buddhist prayers, Dhamma talks, and pujas; and join in with sutra chanting, guided meditations as well as walking and silent meditations. A modest temple lunch and tea are included. This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen our spiritual awareness and understanding of Sri Lanka’s sacred past and present.

We then return to our hotel for a free evening with time to further contemplate our day’s experiences.
(Overnight in Kandy at the Amaya Hills or similar)

Sri Lanka Sil

Breakfast and check out this morning as we drive to the bustling ocean-city of Colombo. We will make a stop just outside the city at the sacred Kelaniya temple, which was hallowed by Lord Buddha during his third and final visit to Sri Lanka eight years after enlightenment. According to the great chronicle the “Mahavamsa”, the original stupa of this sacred temple enshrined a gem-studded throne on which Lord Buddha sat and preached. A sacred place of worship, this temple is also well known for its historical wall paintings that depict remarkable events in his life.

In Colombo we will enjoy a short city tour of the main attractions including the Gangaramaya temple, Independence Memorial, and Town Hall.

We then continue past Galle to our beach-front hotel in Wadduwa. Set on the quiet shores of Wadduwa Beach, The Villas Wadduwa offers a lavish gateway in a culturally rich seaside town. Intimate yet family-friendly, the elegant resort offers 32 villas inspired by the destination’s colonial heritage. Close to the town’s many attractions and with an array of picturesque dining venues with breathtaking views, our Wadduwa resort is truly a destination of its own.

(Overnight in Wadduwa at The Villas Wadduwa or similar)

Traditional stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka Aerial view

Linger over your breakfast this morning as your day is at leisure to explore the resort and beach, quite literally steps from your hotel. Walk barefoot on the golden sand and, after a swim in the calm sea, lie back, relax and finish that novel or leaf through one of the new books you’ve picked up on your journey.

Restore inner harmony to your body and mind with an array of traditional treatments offered at the hotel spa (at own expense).
(Overnight in Wadduwa at The Villas Wadduwa or similar)

Sri Lanka Beach

Enjoy another leisurely breakfast as your morning is free to fully enjoy the hotel’s serene setting.

In the afternoon, visit the historic Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1588 before being extensively fortified by the Dutch in the mid 1600s. After the visit, stroll the charming Galle streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. This is the perfect occasion to do some last-minute shopping for artisanal souvenirs, unique jewellery items and some delicious Ceylon tea.

This evening, join fellow travellers for a Farewell Dinner and fondly look back over the journey, the sacred sites you have visited and the engaging discussions you have been part of.
(Overnight in Wadduwa at The Villas Wadduwa or similar)

Sri Lanka Fort Galle

By now you’ll fully understand why Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as the most beautiful island in the world. Enjoy your final breakfast as you prepare to bid farewell to the island, your tour leader and newfound friends, packing away unforgettable memories along with your clothes and keepsakes to take back home with you.

Transfer to Colombo airport for your return flight home. 

(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)

Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.

Sri Lanka Farewell

The Sacred Heart of Sri Lanka with Andrew Harvey

March 1 - 12, 2020

Tour Includes:

  • 11 nights accommodation at carefully selected hotels
  • Breakfast daily; 4 lunches
  • Welcome and Farwell dinners
  • Transportation by private coach to all sites as per Itinerary
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Entrance fees to all sites as per Itinerary
  • Mineral water bottles during the tour
  • All government taxes

Added Features:

  • Travel with author and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey
  • Local Sri Lankan expert guide throughout
  • Special welcome gift for each person
  • Buddhist ceremonies and meditations
  • Full day Sil observance at Buddhist monastery
  • Visit to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree
  • Almsgiving ceremony at Ruwanweli Seya temple
  • Anuradhapura sacred sites tour
  • Walking forest meditation
  • Climb to Sigiriya rock
  • Visit Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle sites, including stupas, temples and more

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Airfare to, and return from, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Cost to obtain valid passport
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls
  • Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website

Tour Price:

    • Double Room: USD $3,380 per person
    • Single Supplement: USD $725
Book this Journey
or call us on
1-877-874-7922 to help you make your reservation

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