Sri Lanka- Island of Serendipity
Pilgrimage with Dharmacharya Shantum Seth:

7th January to 21st January 2023 (15 days)



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• IMPORTANT TO DOs after registration




ITINERARY 7-21 January 2023



Day of the week


Night's stay




Begin In Colombo










Colombo-Anuradhapura by road (208 km)















Anuradhapura-Mihintale-Polonaruwa by road (113 km)










 Polonaruwa-Sigiriya by road (57 km)










Sigiriya-Kandy (94 km)










Kandy-Galle by road (230 km)















Galle-Colombo airport by road (150 km)


Sri Lanka – Island of Serendipity: Pilgrimage led by Dharmacharya Shantum
Colombo, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Aluvihara, Kandy and end with a 3-day retreat in Galle (15 days, beginning and ending in Colombo) January 7, 2023 to January 21, 2023 – US$ 5850 (Single room supplement US$ 2120)

Experience the ancient and living Buddhist culture on this fascinating journey through Sri Lanka with Shantum. Sit under the world's oldest historically recorded tree in Anuradhapura, which is a descendant of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya, visit monasteries and ruins dating back to 2nd century BCE in Polonnaruwa. Listen to Dharma talks at the Rock Cut temples from the 1st Century BCE at the Dambulla Caves. Visit the Lion Rock in Sigiriya and pay respect to the sacred tooth relic in Kandy. Let the peaceful surroundings of beautiful Galle refresh you with a 3-day retreat. Enjoy this wonderful pilgrimage in the context of the vibrant, rich culture of Sri Lanka while appreciating the tropical beauty and abundance of this Emerald Island.

(Please note that Shantum Seth will only lead the pilgrimage if there is a minimum of 8 registrants. Otherwise it will be led by a person trained by Shantum)




DAY 1: Saturday, January 7, 2023: Arrival in Colombo. Orientation. Visit Buddhist and Hindu temples, the local market at Pettah, and watch the sunset on the beach.
Night’s stay Colombo

DAY 2: Sunday, January 8: Meet some Sri Lankan opinion makers, including the Ariyaratne family and those in the Sarvodaya movement. Visit the Colombo National Museum and other sites of the city.
Night’s stay at Colombo

DAY 3: Monday, January 9: Drive from Colombo to Anuradhapura.
Visit the oldest tree in the world, the Bodhi tree which adorns this city of shrines. It was brought from India in the 3rd century BCE by Emperor Ashoka’s daughter. Its sanctity rests on it being grown from the Bodhi Tree (ficus religiousa) in Bodh Gaya under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Night’s stay at Anuradhapura

DAY 4: Tuesday, January 10: Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) depicts the trajectory of the Sinhalese civilization from the time it was founded in 4th century BCE.  The past grandeur is narrated by a fascinating collection of ancient ruins, including stupas enshrining the relics of the Buddha, some of which have been painstakingly restored.
Night’s stay at Anuradhapura

DAY 5: Wednesday, January 11: Anuradhapura
Continue to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Anuradhapura.
Night’s stay at Anuradhapura

DAY 6: Thursday, January 12: Drive from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa via Mihintale.
Close to Anuradhapura is Mihintale, the first recorded wildlife sanctuary in the world, and where Buddhism in Sri Lanka began. Drive to Polonnaruwa and visit the museum.
Night’s stay at Polonnaruwa

DAY 7: Friday, January 13:  Polonnaruwa
The impressive ruins of an ancient kingdom are home to massive palaces, huge statues including the famous sitting, standing and reclining Buddha, imposing temples and an artificial lake. Polonnaruwa is considered the cleanest city of Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although historically and culturally important, it also has a living culture of Buddhism and we will sit at Gal Vihara, a rock-cut temple of the 12th century where we hope to interact with the local orange-robed monks.
Night’s stay at Polonnaruwa

DAY 8: Saturday, January 14:  Drive to Sigiriya via Dambulla Caves
The Dambulla cave monastery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is traced back to the 1st century BCE and remains the best-preserved historical structure in Sri Lanka. It has five caves under a vast rock that overhangs the temple. On the underbelly of the rock a drip line is carved that keeps the interiors dry.  
Inside the caves, the ceilings are adorned with intricate patterns of Buddha and bodhisattvas meticulously painted following the natural contours of the rock. It remains a living shrine that draws thousands of devotees. We reach the cave temple by walking on the gentle slope of the towering Dambulla rock that gives us a magnificent view of the plains below with the Sigiriya rock fortress emerging out of the flat landscape.
Night’s stay at Sigiriya

DAY 9: Sunday, January 15:  Sigiriya
Sigiriya (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a palace fortress of stunning splendor, an architectural marvel, a classic example of urban planning and a tribute to its ingenious builders of the 8th century. A park laid out on a symmetrical plan and water retaining structures with ingenious hydraulic systems which function till today. The entrance through the famous Lion gate with its giant paws still intact gives Sigiriya its name. Enthralling frescoes of sensuous women and the mirror wall graffiti which narrate a story painted and etched of the genius of a people who lived and loved with passion. The Mirror Wall was so polished that the King could see himself when he passed through the ornate terrace in the sky. Its surface suggests that it is made of some form of porcelain. 
Night’s stay at Sigiriya

DAY 10: Monday, January 16: Drive to Kandy via Aluvihara
Aluvihara is of great significance to the global history of Buddhism. It was here that the Buddha’s teachings, the Tipitaka (including the Sutras), was first committed to writing, in Pali. During the first 450 years the Buddha’s teachings were memorized and passed on orally from generation to generation. We visit the rock-cut caves, in a picturesque setting and pay homage to those who committed the great teachings to writing. That effort still goes on, and we can witness the same nearly extinct method of inscribing on palm leaves. The words are first scratched out with a metal stylus, after which black soot is rubbed into the leaf, causing the invisible words to appear magically.
Night’s stay at Kandy

Day 11: Tuesday, January 17: Kandy
Kandy is the cultural and religious capital of Sri Lanka.   It is a city with a graceful charm, radiating an ambiance of antiquity. It has a vast array of shrines, and temples dating back to the 14th century when it was a centre for both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. Cocooned in the comfort of a protected valley in the central hills of Sri Lanka, the city at 500 meters (1640 feet) above sea level is home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and hence an UNESCO World Heritage site. The Temple of the Tooth is part of the royal palace of Kandy, due to the ancient tradition that stated that the monarch is the protector of the relic. We plan to visit the newly-finished International Buddhist museum and the National museum.

Kandy is virtually hidden behind a thick curtain of natural foliage in the form of lush tropical forests and a 60-hectare botanical garden. The garden was first conceived by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe on the loop of the Mahaweli River that partly encircles Kandy.  
Night’s stay at Kandy

Day 12: Wednesday, January 18:  Drive from Kandy to Colombo to Galle.
Galle was known as Gimhathiththa. The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. The Galle Fort is a world heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. We stay and have a retreat at the Lighthouse hotel designed and built by the famous architect, Geoffrey Bawa.
Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the city's natural harbor, the National Maritime MuseumSt. Mary's Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, one of the main Shiva temples on the island.
Retreat at Galle begins
Night’s stay at Galle

DAY 13: Thursday, January 19:  Galle
Retreat at Galle
Night’s stay at Galle

DAY 14: Friday, January 20:  Galle
Retreat at Galle
Night’s stay at Galle

DAY 15: Saturday, January 21:  Day at Leisure. Transfer to airport for departure flight.



Pilgrimage Sites >>




Shantum Seth, an ordained Dharmacharya (Dharma teacher) in the Thiền (Zen) Buddhist lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh, is the foremost expert on the sites associated with the Buddha and has been leading pilgrimages in India and across Asia since 1988. He worked with the United Nations for more than 15 years, and was a Senior Advisor to the World Bank and on the Advisory group to the Minister of Tourism and Culture on pilgrimage tourism. He has co-authored books such as Walking with the Buddha and been a consultant for films like BBC-Discovery’s Life of the Buddha and BBC-PBS’s The Story of India. He has been promoting mindfulness in education, with the police, and is setting up a practice centre in the foothills of the Himalayas through the non-profit Ahimsa Trust of which he is a co-founder.

Ahimsa has been deeply involved in Covid relief work in India in the last year.






Sri Lanka – Island of Serendipity: A Pilgrimage led by Dharmacharya Shantum Seth Experience the ancient and living Buddhist culture in Colombo, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Aluvihara, Kandy and end with a 3-day retreat in Galle. (15 days, beginning and ending in Colombo) January 7, 2023 to January 21, 2023 – US$ 5850 (Single room supplement US$ 2120)

The price includes: Talks and meditations by Dharmacharya Shantum, accommodation in a shared twin or double rooms, all meals and bottled drinking water, domestic/local flights, excursions and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles (or by boat, if mentioned), entrance fee for mentioned visits and English-speaking local guides.

The price does not include: Services other than mentioned, visa to enter Sri Lanka, international flights, laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature, tips and travel insurance




A non-refundable deposit of $500 U.S. per person is required at the time of booking.  The remainder of the cost of the pilgrimage is due by October 1, 2022. 

For cancellations received up to eight before the commencement of the journey, only the deposit will be forfeited. If the cancellation is made less than eight weeks before the beginning of the journey, the cancellation fee will be 100% of the total cost.


Seth Consultants Pvt. Ltd. while undertaking tours, transportation, hotel accommodation and other services only act on the clear understanding that they shall not be in any way responsible or liable for any accident, damage, loss, delay or inconvenience caused in connection with travel and other facilities arranged by the company, their employees or agents. All bookings are accepted and executed with utmost care, yet no responsibility is taken for any change or deviation on account of factors beyond their control.

By making a deposit for the tour, participants acknowledge that they have read and understood this document in its entirety, and have consented to all conditions herein, including the Disclaimer and Release of Liability. 
For participants under age 18, their parent or legal guardian shall sign on their behalf and the same Disclaimer and Release shall apply.

Each pilgrim must complete this form in full, and send with a non-refundable deposit of $500 per pilgrim to:
Ms Bina Aranha
Buddhapath/Eleven Directions
309-B, Sector 15A, Noida 201 301, India
Tel: +91-120-4334284; 2511633; 2512162; 2512162





Travel Insurance: It is recommended that you take out travel insurance for your journey. The range of coverage can vary significantly from policy to policy, and travelers are encouraged to speak with a travel agency to identify a policy that suits their needs.  Things to consider are travel delays, trip cancellation or interruption, medical coverage, and baggage loss or delay.  Before purchasing insurance, you may wish to check with your health insurance carrier to see if your policy includes medical care overseas.  Please note that many insurance carriers require that insurance be purchased at the time a deposit or final payment is made; check with your carrier for details. 

Arrival and departure are to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Participants are responsible for making their own round-trip flight arrangements from their point of origin to Colombo, Sri Lanka and back.  For international flights, tickets should be booked as early as possible.  You may check with us before you confirm your flight bookings (we could also help you book your international flights).

We will arrange a complimentary airport transfer on arrival.
The pilgrimage will begin at 12:00pm (noon) on 7th January, 2023.

We will arrange a complimentary airport transfer for your departure on 21st January,2023.

For those wishing an extra day or two to recover from air travel before the pilgrimage begins, or who wish to stay longer after the pilgrimage ends, we would be happy to arrange extra nights and extensions.  Please make your requests well in advance, as January is a peak season for visitors.

Single rooms are available and there is a single room supplement.

For single travelers who do NOT want to opt for a single room, we will try and room them with someone suitable. A forced single room supplement (in case we are not able to room you with anyone else) will be 50% of the single supplement).


You will need a valid passport and visa for Sri Lanka.  You should apply for an E-Visa (ETA) to visit Sri Lanka for up to 30 days by paying US$35 for nationals of most countries. Please visit

Please Note: Visas are available on arrival but costs US$5 extra.

The Sri Lankan visa is valid for 90 days upon approval. It is a double-entry visa where you can enter the country twice with the same visa. You can stay for up to 30 days at each entry.  Further extension is possible, but the fee varies according to nationality.

Each participant must provide the following details:  Name, gender, date of birth, passport number, date of issue of passport, date of expiry of passport, place of issue of passport, and emergency contact information. 





The cost for the 15-Day Island of Serendipity journey:  Sri Lanka Pilgrimage: Experience the ancient and living Buddhist culture in Colombo, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Aluvihara, Kandy and a retreat at Galle (beginning and ending in Colombo) January 7 to January 21, 2023 – US$ 5850 (based on twin-sharing hotel rooms)

The tour price includes:  airport transfers and escort services in Colombo, Sri Lanka, guide services, transportation inside Sri Lanka, monument entrance fees, all meals, bottled water and lodging arrangements for the duration of the pilgrimage. All registration fees are payable in US dollars or the equivalent in GPB, Euro etc.

Please note that the cost does not cover:
International airfare to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka, visas and other international arrangements, any extra days spent in Sri Lanka beyond the dates of the pilgrimage, excess baggage fees on the flights, laundry during the pilgrimage or medical and other insurance coverage such as travel insurance. 


The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across cents today). Currency notes are Rs.5000, Rs.2000, Rs.1000, Rs.500, Rs.100, Rs.50, Rs.20 and Rs.10. Beware of mistaking the Rs.500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have received them, will be in denominations up to Rs.10.

Banks are open from 0900 hrs to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs, while some are open on Saturday mornings. It is easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards. Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centers accept credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.

Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)

Electricity:  230-240 volts, 50 cycles AC.

Travelers often have questions about tipping.  In the last few years, Shantum has developed a system where he does all the tipping/donations during the pilgrimage and keeps a running tab of it.  At the end, the amount is divided among the pilgrims and repaid to him (contributing is optional).  Thus far, this has worked well. It usually works out to $5 per day, but this figure could vary.

We suggest that you pick up a local SIM card for your mobile phone on your arrival in Sri Lanka if you want connectivity at a low cost.

It is pleasant weather in Sri Lanka in January, with day temperatures ranging from 18oC to 29oC. The evenings are cooler with temperatures going down to 10oC. There is a small possibility of rain so please come equipped with wind-cheater, umbrella and warm clothes. We would also recommend you to carry ample protection from the sun in the form of a sunscreen lotion, sunglasses and hat/cap for the day. 
There is no need to bring formal clothing. 

Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woolens for the hills and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Modest dress for men and women is advisable especially off the beach and when visiting religious sites.  Please bring comfortable sneakers or sandals (which you can wear with socks if it gets cold).  We will do some trekking (optional).  We also visit a number of temples where you will need to remove your shoes, so it is helpful to bring a pair of socks (the airline slip-ons are very convenient).  It is always useful to have a hat or cap to protect you from the sun.  The free baggage allowance is 20 kilos (44 lbs.) check-in baggage. Your cabin baggage limit is 5kgs, so we recommend that you travel light.  Laundry facilities are available at all the places we stay, and laundry is usually returned within 24 hours.



Clothing: Temples and Cultural Sites are considered scared. Visitors are not allowed to wear the following when entering. See through clothes, Sleeveless shirts, Sportswear, Tights/ Leggings, Shorts, Short Skirts, Three-quarter length trousers and Swimwear/Beachwear

While taking photographs in cultural sites, please refrain from standing in front of the historical icons, showing your back to the religious statues, monuments, etc or posing in any other inappropriate manner (or dressed inappropriately) which is considered disrespectful to the Sri Lankan culture & its many religions. These guidelines are strictly enforced in Sri Lanka.


We stay in clean, safe places, and the food in the places we stay will be clean, fresh and prepared to suit a delicate digestive system.  You will be provided bottled mineral water for drinking.
The regulations around COVID are changing all the time, so we will follow whatever are the latest instructions.
If you are coming from Africa or some parts of Latin America, a certificate of yellow fever inoculation is required by the Sri Lanka authorities.  There is no other medical restriction upon your entry into Sri Lanka.  We recommend a Typhoid shot and a Tetanus shot.  If you prefer to be more careful, then please speak to your physician. 

We do carry a first-aid kit with us, but many people prefer to bring their own supply of medicines.  We would recommend you get an insect/mosquito repellent and also a stomach medicine for both diarrhea and constipation as one’s stomach has its own way of adjusting to different foods.
If you have any special diet needs or medical needs, please do let us know.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL SERVICES (e.g. shuttle buses, taxis)
We provide all the transport services during the pilgrimage, including having you met on arrival in Colombo.  There is no extra charge for meeting people at the airport. 







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