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From Bollywood to Ancient Ruins: A Journey Through India and Sri Lanka

Leave your home in favor of culture, history, art and adventure when you embark on this 16-day journey from Bollywood to Ancient Ruins through India and Sri Lanka itinerary. There's hiking, temples, ancient ruins, a backwater boat trip and more in store! Travel through Mumbai, Cochin and Kumarakom in India. Depart lively India and travel to its island neighbor, through Colombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Tangalle and Galle in stunning Sri Lanka. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit a film set in the much-loved Bollywood in Mumbai
  • Tour majestic Dambulla atop a majestic elephant
  • See an actual tooth of Buddha in the magical Temple of the Tooth
  • Observe baby sea turtles making their way to the sea in Tangalle
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in western India where Bollywood was born - Mumbai. Famously overcrowded, this is the fourth-largest city in the entire world. The culture-rich city is the perfect starting point for your adventure. For an absolutely unforgettable luxurious stay, we suggest the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.

Day 2

Enjoy a full day touring the pulsing city. The National Gallery of Modern Art is a fantastic spot to check out the country’s artistic side. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Victoria Station is an incredible central railway station constructed in the Victorian Gothic style. There are several ancient, well-preserved churches throughout the city. A trip to Mumbai isn’t complete without a visit to Bollywood - visit a set for a closer look at how the cultural favorites are created.

Day 3
Cochin - Kumarakom

Depart Mumbai for a more remote location. Fly to Cochin and transfer to Kumarakom, an area known for its incredible backwater tourism. The city is set against the stunning largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala - Vembanad Lake. Check into the hotel of your choice in the city.

Day 4

Spend your first day in the area exploring the natural beauty. Give yachting or fishing a try on the lake. The Bird Sanctuary is home to several species of migratory birds. The sanctuary covers over 14 acres - you may even spot a beautiful, rare Siberian Crane.

Day 5

Enjoy a unique experience as you spend the day on one of the area’s much-loved backwater cruise boats. The area surrounding the lake is covered in mangrove forests, paddy fields, coffee plantations, pineapple orchards and coconut plantations. Step aboard and sail across the massive lake and absorb the natural surroundings.

Day 6

Travel back to Cochin (also known as Kochi,) to see a town seemingly retired after the spice trade cooled off in the area. The once bustling cosmopolitan city is now a sleepy, charming port town. We suggest checking into the Brunton Boatyard, Malabar House or the Vivanta by Taj Malabar for a lush stay.

Day 7

Begin your day by paying a visit to the Jewish section of the city. The area was largely populated in the 1940s and the brightly painted houses are built in classic old-world designs. Visit the bay and watch as fishermen haul in Chinese fishing nets filled with fresh fish - you can even buy fish straight from their nets and carry your purchase to the nearby Dutch House to have it filleted. Come evening, you’ll have the opportunity to learn local favorite dishes from a warm and welcoming chef who teaches classes in the intimate setting of her private home.

Day 8

Depart India as you fly from Cochin to colorful Colombo in Sri Lanka. You arrive in the nation's capital city in the mid-morning. Begin your city tour by visiting the pivotal Gangaramaya Temple - an important learning and spiritual location. Next, visit the tiny temple built on a lake, the Seema Malaka Temple. Observe the national sport at a Sri Lankan cricket match. Finish the day with a stroll along the half-kilometer-long Galle Face Green Promenade. Check in to the 250-year-old colonial style Park Street Hotel and sleep soundly.

Day 9

Travel 4 hours to Dambulla. Explore the fantastic UNESCO sites of the Dambulla Cave Temple and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Tour the area atop a local elephant. This evening, you’ll bed down at the deluxe Heritance Kandalama.

Day 10

Leave the city for a bit and take a half-day trip to the UNESCO site of Polonnaruwa, some 80 minutes from Dambulla. The ruins are in amazing shape and make it easy to imagine life in ancient times. This afternoon, take a safari at the Minneriya National Park. The wildlife refuge has been known to serve as a home to wild elephants.

Day 11

Travel 2 hours to picturesque Kandy, a city known as the island’s cultural capital. Kandy was the last kingdom in Sri Lanka. Learn about Sri Lankan spiritual practices when visiting the Bahirawakanda Monastery. See the incredible Temple of the Tooth that contains the relic of the tooth of Buddha. The Earl’s Regency has a refreshing swimming pool and comfortable rooms for resting up that night.

Day 12

Leave vibrant Kandy and gaze at the green rolling hills as you make your way 2 hours into the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country. See the temple where the Hindu God Rama’s lover prayed for Rama to rescue her from the evil King Ravana. Check in to the Grand Hotel where you will enjoy endless hospitality and comfort.

Day 13

Spend your second day in the the area in the great outdoors. Take a hike in the rolling hills, in the idyllic Horton Plains National Park. The park is one of many UNESCO sites in the country. The Grand Hotel’s spa services are perfect after a day out in the fresh air.

Day 14

Travel 4 hours to Tangalle to soak in the sunshine. Here, you’ll have the incredible opportunity to catch baby sea turtles hatch on a deserted beach. The Rekawa Turtle Conservation’s mission is to preserve the turtles’ natural environment, and help them thrive within it. In the evening, learn to cook the area’s famous cuisine and eat your own creations. Relax tonight at the Amanwella Resort.

Day 15

Enjoy an extra-special sight this morning, as you marvel at the Mulkirigala Rock Temple, home to seven cave temples, perched on terraces of various altitudes, the highest of which is 676 feet above sea-level. Note the handdrawn Buddhist art on the cave walls. The afternoon has you taking a safari ride through seaside Yala National Park. Return to you hotel tonight to enjoy some leisure time.

Day 16

Reach the final destination of your adventure - the gorgeous coastal city of Galle, 90 minutes away. Along the way, stop at the UNESCO site, the Ancient Port of Galle. Enjoy a whale-watching tour and see the large mammals playing in their natural environment. Visit the Yatagala and Rhumasala temples for a unique spiritual tour. Check in to the historic Amangalla hotel located inside of the old fort within the Ancient Port, for the final night of your trip. The hotel is known for providing five-star quality in an old-world beautiful setting. Get a good sleep ahead of tomorrow morning’s departure.


Suggested Accommodations

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

For over a century, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower has been the haunt of India's elite, and has played host to princes, kings, maharajas, presidents, CEOs and countless celebrities. Built in 1903, it is an architectural marvel, bringing together Moorish, Oriental, and Florentine styles. Inside, the hotel showcases contemporary Indian art framed by vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, graceful archways, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers, and an eclectic collection of furniture. There are 519 rooms and 46 opulent suites with panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India. The Taj's excellent dining options include Golden Dragon - voted the best Chinese restaurant in Mumbai; Masala Kraft - Indian cuisine with a contemporary twist; Souk, which has stunning views of Mumbai from its rooftop location and serves Middle Eastern cuisine; The Zodiac Grill, where a special menu is offered for each month's star sign, and the stellar Wasabi By Morimoto - Mumbai's first contemporary Japanese restaurant, helmed by the Iron Chef himself. There is also the Harbour Bar, Mumbai's first drinking establishment, and the Insomnia nightclub, filled with "Bombabes" and their millionaire boyfriends. Guests can unwind at the luxurious spa, the fitness center, equipped with cardiovascular and weight training equipment, steam shower and sauna and swimming pool, or with a game of badminton, squash, tennis or billiards. The hotel also has a private yacht available for day trips on the Arabian Sea or to nearby Elephanta Island. There is a business center with wired and wireless Internet access, secretarial services and cell phones and laptops for hire. Wi-fi available throughout the hotel. The Taj Mahal Palace is 45 minutes from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM).

Brunton Boatyard, Malabar House, Vivanta by Taj Malabar

Brunton Boatyard

Set in a restored boatyard dating from the Victorian era, the Brunton is located at the tip of Fort Cochin. Designed in the style of early Dutch and Portuguese buildings, with whitewashed walls, a sloping tile roof and terracotta floors, the Brunton features twenty-two rooms – all of which face the sea, and are fitted with antique furniture and high royal beds with steps to climb up to them. Dining options include the History Café, which serves a fusion of Dutch, Syrian, Indian and Keralan cuisines in a room paneled with warm woods and teak crossbeams; the Terrace Grill serves the best of that morning's catch; and lastly, the Armoury Bar, which overlooks the harbor and features a selection of teas and classic cocktails. The hotel has a small pool next to the sea, an Ayurvedic center with massage and healing treatments, and a steam room, but does not have a fitness center. There is no business center, though there are secretarial services and Internet access. The Brunton Boatyard lies approximately 30 minutes from the airport in Cochin (COK).


Malabar House

The charming Malabar House, voted Best Boutique Hotel by Time magazine, dates back to 1755 when Dutchman Jan Herman Clausing owned it. Spice traders, tea merchants and bankers subsequently occupied it before being turned into luxury accommodations. There are 17 rooms and suites, divided into Deluxe Rooms, Roof Garden Suites and the Malabar Suite; all have tiled floors and are decorated in vibrant color schemes with antique objets d’art. In-room amenities include televisions, direct dial telephones, safe deposit lockers, coffee makers and mini bars. The property’s restaurant, Malabar Junction, serves delectable seafood prepared in Indian and Mediterranean styles and if the weather is nice, meals or drinks can be taken in the courtyard, which often hosts local dance or musical performances. Upstairs from the restaurant is Divine, a wine bar focused on Indian wines. Malabar House is in the heart of historical Fort Cochin, opposite St. Francis Church and 3 minutes walk to the Chinese fishing nets. The property is a 1.5-hour drive from Nedumbassery Cochin International airport.


Vivanta by Taj Malabar

Situated on the manmade Willingdon Island, the Vivanta by Taj Malabar provides remarkable views of historic, picturesque Cochin harbor. Each room offers a LCD television, custom, stylish décor, surround-sound systems, massage showerheads, and work desks and chairs. Dining options include the Rice Boat, which specializes in fresh-caught seafood and is modeled after a traditional kettuvalam boat, complete with garden entrance in the form of a ship’s bow and an authentic cane roof; the Pepper, a twenty-four hour eatery featuring eastern and western cuisine in a bright, cheery space; the Thai Pavilion, reputedly the only restaurant of its kind in Kerala; and the Mattancherry Bar. In addition to wireless Internet in every room, there is a business center and the Jiva Spa, which features a full menu of rejuvenating, refreshing therapies. The Taj Malabar is approximately 60 minutes from Cochin airport (COK).
Heritance Kandalama

Heritance Kandalama

Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.

Earl's Regency Hotel

Earl's Regency Hotel

Located in the centre of Kandy, just a short drive from the railway station and the famous Temple of the Tooth, Earl's Regency Hotel is a luxurious property with splendid views of the mountains around Kandy. All its rooms are air-conditioned and come with a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a TV with satellite channels. Free WiFi is available in the public areas. The hotel also has a 24-hour coffee shop, as well as the sumptuous Far Pavilions restaurant, which offers local and international cuisine. The spa has massage rooms, a sauna and steam room, and there are also tennis and badminton courts.
Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

The former residence of Sir Edward Barnes, Governor of Sri Lanka from 1830 to 1850, the Grand Hotel is a Tudor-style mansion set amidst boxwood and fir trees overlooking the calm waters of Lake Gregory. Hunting and fishing trophies decorate the walls, infusing the property with the tranquility of times past. The hotel has 156 elegantly furnished rooms including three presidential suites and three deluxe suites that overlook the property's magnificent, award-winning gardens filled with beautifully laid out flower beds. Rooms in the new golf wing overlook the golf course and present a soothing view of the rolling greens, and junior suites are equipped with fireplaces and well-appointed bathrooms. The main restaurant, Barnes Hall, is located on the ground floor of the hotel and overlooks the gardens, and offers a wide choice in both Western and Eastern cuisines. There is also a coffee shop, an Indian restaurant, supper club and three bars on the grounds. Other amenities include three lounges, a small shopping arcade, fitness center and sauna, spa, wood-paneled bar and billiard room with three tables. There is no Internet access at the hotel.


Situated in the midst of a coconut grove on a secluded bay, the Amanwella resort is one of the world's most exclusive beach retreats. The resort sits on a perfect crescent of white-sand beach and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, national parks and exotic wildlife and a 5 and 1/2 hour drive from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). There are 30 suites, each equipped with a plunge pool, terrace, and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. A number of ocean suites are located further down the hill and have uninterrupted views of the coconut palms and the beach. The Amanwella restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and uses its location next to the ocean to cook up fresh Asian- and Mediterranean-style seafood. The Pool Terrace also serves meals in a more laid-back setting. When not enjoying a safari, snorkeling, or swimming in the pool, there is a library with Internet access and reference books on Sri Lanka. The spa offers massages and traditional therapies using local, natural ingredients, which can be given either in the spa's suite or in selected garden locations. There is no fitness center.



Located in the center of a preserved 17th-century Dutch Fort, the sumptuous Amangalla resort is also a beautifully restored UNESCO World Heritage site that perfectly captures the charm of the historic trading port of Galle. Amangalla has 17 rooms, eight suites and the Garden House, a two-story house with treetop views. Rooms are decorated in a style that blends luxurious contemporary amenities with a perfectly rendered colonial-era aesthetic. Sri Lankan curry and other traditional dishes are served in the dining room, and the Veranda is a cool spot to have a drink during the day; the fort's Zaal (Dutch for Great Hall) serves light meals and a classic afternoon tea. The pool is located in the resort's gardens and has five shaded pavilions where you can relax post-swim. A library with Internet access houses information on Sri Lanka and the history of the Fort. The Baths, Amangalla's spa, offers Ayurvedic massage, hydrotherapy pools, and a steam room and sauna, among other treatments. There is also a garden pavilion for yoga practice or meditation. There is no fitness center. The resort is roughly a four-hour drive from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB).

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