SriLankan Airlines, the National Carrier of Sri Lanka and a member of the oneworld alliance, organized a familiarization tour of Sri Lanka’s historic landmarks associated with the Ramayana Legend. The familiarization tour provided the touring social media influencers and travel writers the opportunity to immerse themselves in an all- encompassing destination experience through the perspective of a legend which has bound the two nations since time immemorial.
Day one of the tour saw them visiting Munneswaram and Manawari Temples in Chilaw, which have their origins closely associated with Lord Rama. The visitors were fascinated by the legend’s connotation to the places and the architectural grandeur of these temples which are frequented by Sri Lankans by all faiths. The day concluded with an overnight stay in Dambulla.
The Day two started with the team visiting the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, which is believed to have been the palace of King Kuvera which was later occupied by King Ravana after defeating the former. Today, this is a UNESCO world heritage site with remains of the fortress built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century. The team also explored the Golden Temple of Dambulla before heading off to Trincomalee.
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.