A journey through landscapes ancient and modern,
with architect and historian, Anne Warr
Strategically situated on the Indian Ocean’s east-west trading route, Sri Lanka has been visited by traders for thousands of years. Some, like the Arabs, Persians and Chinese, came and went, while others, like the Dutch, Portuguese and British, stayed longer, each cultivating the island in their own ways and making Sri Lanka today the richest of gardens. From the earliest times, Tamils and Sinhalese have navigated the necklace of islands that tenuously link the Indian sub-continent with the southern island, bringing with them skills in food cultivation and irrigation, which when combined with religious practices developed into sophisticated kingdoms in the north of the island.
Our tour will circumnavigate the island from colonial Colombo in the west, to ancient Anaradaphura in the north, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the central highlands, then south to Tangalle and Galle facing the Indian Ocean.
As we move around the island, we will immerse ourselves in the various landscapes and gardens – ancient and modern – and so begin to understand the genius loci of the island that has inspired the work of Sri Lanka’s modern architects such as Geoffrey Bawa. The ancient capitals of Anaradaphura and Polonnaruwa are landscaped cities of immense beauty and order that included complex water supply systems, pleasure gardens and hierarchical planning. The tea estates in the highlands between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya are testament to the gardening and management prowess of the British, while the rubber, banana and cinnamon groves of the lower slopes remind us why trade with the Cinnamon Isle has endured over centuries.