Clarke’s Odyssey

Fish boat on ocean shore

specialDeparture: September – May
Following the footsteps of Arthur C. Clarke, this tour takes you “out of this world” on a one of a kind adventure in Sri Lanka. Clarke, co-writer of 2001: A Space Odyssey, called Sri Lanka “home” from 1956 until his death in 2008. The draw for him was scuba diving and the mysterious life on the island, then called Ceylon. See his home in Colombo. Visit Unawatuna, the town that intrigued Clarke. Dive the reefs. Journey to Trincomalee to see the temple built from relics retrieved by Clarke from the underwater ruins of the ancient Koneswaram temple. Clarke’s Odyssey will change the way you view your world.

Day 1: Colombo
Arrive in Sri Lanka and transfer to your accommodations in Colombo for four nights. Reminder of the day is at leisure.

Day 2: Colombo–City Tour
Morning relaxation of the of the hotel. In the afternoon, take a walking tour of the capital city’s historical Fort and Pettah districts.

You will be taken to the outer streets of Pettah where the walk will commence. along these streets, you will find everything from textiles to electronics to spices. Hidden within these ways is the Old Dutch Museum. Built in the 17th Century, the building still maintains its pristine architecture and was initially home to Count August Carl Van Ranzow.

The walk continues into the commercial hub of Colombo, Fort, where you find another colonial treasure, the Old Dutch Hospital. Formerly a hospital during the 17th century, the complex is now host to high-end restaurants, bars and shops. Your walk ends here where you can take a breather here and admire the artifacts and have a drink…or two

Day 3: Colombo-“Leslie’s House”
Morning visit to “Leslie’s House” Dr. Clarke’s home in Sri Lanka located in Barnes Place, Colombo 7. Dr.

Clarke moved to Sri Lanka and made Colombo his last home, an exclusive residential district two kilometers from the beach, for nearly 40 years. One of Clarke’s friends is living in the house now. The study on the second floor has not changed since Clarke died in March 2008 at age 90, you can see A white Apple computer sits on the desk and the bookshelves are filled with Clarke’s own books, including some translated into Japanese, and books related to space.

Day 4: Colombo-ACCIMT
After breakfast leave for The Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies (ACCIMT), Katubedda, Moratuwa.

The Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies: was named after Sir Arthur C. Clarke in honor of his work who was also a resident in Sri Lanka. He is the patron of the ACCIMT.

You can see Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s most famous prediction on the future is his proposal of geostationary satellite communications published in the Wireless World magazine in 1945.You will witness the original carbon copy of this in ACCIMT. The concept of the communications satellite was first proposed by Arthur C. Clarke.

In 1945 Clarke published an article titled “Extra-terrestrial Relays” in the magazine Wireless World. The article described the fundamentals behind the deployment artificial satellites in geostationary orbits for the purpose of relaying radio signals. Thus Arthur C. Clarke is often quoted as the inventor of the communications satellite. In 1945 Dr. Clarke laid the foundation for the modern satellite communication when he wrote a paper which was published in ASCENT TO ORBIT. For this and his contribution to the development of communication technology Arthur C. Clark received the Marconi Award in 1982. You will witness a model of this at ACCIMT

Day 5: Galle
After Breakfast leave for Galle for two nights. Evening, take a walk along the Dutch built Galle Fort (UNESCO world heritage site)

Day 6: Galle-Rumassala-Galle
Morning visit to “Rumassala”, known to colonialists as Buona Vista, the subject of many legends.

There is a major magnetic anomaly near Unawatuna, which Arthur C. Clarke attributes to a meteorite strike and it is said that satellites lose their orbits with unusual frequency overhead. In consequence, Sir Arthur explains, that, exhausted, geo-stationary satellites end up high above this place around Unawatuna, and keep on milling round and round.

When Arthur C. Clarke came to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), way back in 1956, he made Unawatuna his first home. The mystery associated with the Rumassala area, may, in all probability, have intrigued him. Rumassala which is located close to the main harbour area is therefore an important marine archaeological site, while the watering point on Rumassala was important during the colonial period. The Portuguese had a dreadful reputation in Sri Lanka as looters and pirates and are said to have given false light signals from Rumassala to lure unsuspecting Arab trading ships onto the rocks.

Day 7: Yala
After breakfast leave for Yala for four nights. Reminder of the day is at leisure.

Day 8: Yala-Kirinda-Yala
Morning visit Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya; a Buddhist shrine built on a huge round rock. One of the most well-known attractions in Kirinda is the statue of Queen Viharamaha Devi. This is situated on the spot where she is said to have landed after being set adrift on the sea from Kelaniya. The rock temple mentioned above is largely believed to be the site of her landing.

Days 9-10: Yala-Dive Trip-Yala
Kirinda has been recognized as one of the best sites for diving. Dive near the Great Basses reef and the Little Basses reef.

Dive into an experience of combination of sandstone reefs carved by strong tides, watching many species of fish including, angel-fishes, rays, giant maori wrasses, porpoises, gray sharks and tuna. Diving in sea waters off Kirinda is a rare experience indeed. With Sri Lanka being on major shipping route connecting China with the rest of the world, and these rocks located 12-13 kilometers off the shore, the ancient sea fairer found navigating these rocks a formidable challenge and the large number of ships which have wrecked close to these rocks have made this area a popular diving attraction. Both the lighthouses on these two rocks were designed by James Douglass and constructed by his brother William Douglass of the Imperial Lighthouse Service.

The Small Basses Reef: was completed five years later in 1878. Both these light houses survived the great tsunami of 2004 with only damages to the bases. These damages were repaired and the lighthouses were made operational again in 2007 with the aid from UK. The underwater treasures surrounding the Basses reefs were exposed to the world through the 1961 publication called “The Treasure of the Reef”’ written by Sir Arthur C Clarke based on his experience on the diving expedition to the reefs. He discovered a wreck of a 24 gun ship which belonged to the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb (1658 – 1707) which contained thousands of silver rupees dated 1702 Right, a Surat Indian Rupee, reproduced from the Treasure of the Great Basses Reef.

Great Basses: is also famous for Mike Wilson’s short underwater documentary Boy Beneath the sea. Left, the cluster of one thousand silver rupees gifted to Smithsonian Museum by Sir Arthur Clarke in December 1961, Rupee, reproduced from the Treasure of the Great Basses Reef.

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast leave for Nuwara Eliya for one night.

Cocktail movie Review of “Ran Muthu Duwa” the first color Sinhala feature film made in Sri Lanka, released 50 years ago which shows the underwater wonders of the seas around the island for the first time. Ran Muthu Duwa was written, filmed and directed by Mike Wilson, who was a variously talented as a diver, photographer, writer and filmmaker. Its financier was Arthur C Clarke.

Day 12: Habarana–Polonnaruwa-Habarana
After breakfast leave for Habarana for two nights.

In the afternoon, visit Polonnaruwa (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. Visit the world famous rock-cut Buddha statues of Gal Vihara and the Parakrama Samudra (‘Sea of Parakrama’) a 2500-hectare man made reservoir built by King Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD) with a capacity of 134 million cubic meters.

Day 13: Habarana-Sigiriya-Habarana
Embark on a morning visit to Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Sigiriya: is situated in the north central province belonging to the ‘Cultural Triangle’, in the dry lowlands of Sri Lanka. climb the 5th century AD fortress palace built by King Kasyappa, but suspected to have been in use by Mahayana Buddhists for many centuries previously. The rock is an inselberg, which dominates the landscape and was both a military refuge as well as an aesthetic refuge for king who was a patron of the arts. Some people believe that Sigiriya was when king Kasiyapa’s time was used as a star gate to have communications with extra-terrestrial beings, which also helped to build the rock fortress.

In a science fiction “The Fountains of Paradise” by Arthur C. Clarke, Sigiriya is the mountain top used as the earth station for the space elevator that the world builds in future. This is the story of the building of the first space elevator, focusing on the engineer who builds it, and on a man who lives near the eventual building site in Sri Lanka, who lives in a slightly adapted version of Sigiriya. The history of Sigiriya (called Yakkagala in the book) is woven in as a background story in the first part of the book. Briefly, the concept of a space elevator is that one can, in theory, given materials of sufficient strength, build a tower of sorts down from stationary orbit to a point on earth. Once complete, mass could be lifted into orbit and returned to earth from orbit at far less cost than traditional rocket boost, particularly since much of the energy spent sending something into orbit is regained by the return trip down to the surface.

Day 14: Trincomelee
After breakfast leave for Trincomalee for two nights. Remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 15: Trincomelee
Morning visit to Koneswaram Kovil, Fort Frederick & Swami Rock.

Fort Frederick: High above on a rock outcrop in Trinco staring into the Indian Ocean is Fort Frederick. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1624, this Fort was used by subsequent colonial powers as a naval base. Currently the Fort is used as barracks by the Sri Lankan Navy, but visitors are permitted to pass through to visit the Koneswaram Kovil a Hindu Kovil located at the end of the spit.

Koneswaram Kovil & Swami Rock: Past Fort Frederick is Swami Rock also referred to as ‘Lover’s leap’ – a sheer cliff which is about 350 feet above sea level and looks straight down into the ocean below. It is said that the name `Lovers Leap’ was coined after an incident involving a Dutch Officer’s daughter who had leapt into the sea at this point following a broken love affair. At the end of the spit which leads to the pinnacle of the rock, stands the newly built Konesvaram Kovil. The original ancient Hindu Kovil that stood here is said to have been destroyed by the Portuguese. This beautiful Shiva temple was reopened to pilgrims during the British rule. In 1950 the original relic of the Temple was recovered while digging a well near the site. Arthur C. Clarke discovered more ruins from the original shrine while scuba diving around the fort. The lingam he retrieved now sits inside the temple complex, which was rebuilt in 1963.

Day 16: Anuradhapura
After breakfast leave for Anuradhapura for one night. Visit Star-struck stupas in ancient Anuradhapura.

Day 17: Negombo
After breakfast leave for Negombo for one night. Reminder of the day is at leisure.

Day 18: Depart Negombo
You are driven to the airport for your departure flight onward or homebound.

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