Juliet Coombe sees Jetwing Vil Uyana as one of the cultural triangle’s crown jewels, an incredible eco-resort set in reclaimed agricultural land with views of Sigiriya rock fortress, that in ancient times, only the great Kings and their courtiers enjoyed from their pleasure gardens.
Jetwing Vil Uyana is the ideal spot to spend a week and explore the wealth of incredible cultural and historic attractions in the area, which include the first and last capitals of the ancient kingdoms. Heralded in magazines and books as the leading ‘Lifestyle Hotel’ a mere 5km from what many consider the ‘8th Wonder of the World’, Sigiriya, a magnificent fortress built on a rock rising out of the surrounding jungle.
Get up early and enjoy the morning serenade from the jungle orchestra of wild birds and animals before starting your historic walk through King Kashyappa’s landscaped gardens with water features akin to Versailles in France and terraces in surprisingly good repair, all laid out in perfect symmetry. The palace’s highlight is a unique gallery of beautiful 5th century rock paintings, very well endowed with naked damsels. Archaeological research suggests those artistic works, which can be found at Ajanta in India, influenced these stunning nude images. Although there are only 22 remaining frescoes drawn in a classical realist style, experts believe that there were at one time as many as 500 of these colourful apsaras dotted along the sheer cliff face.
Recognising the worldwide importance of this magnificent site, Jetwing over a decade ago enlisted the support of architect Sunela Jayawandane, one of Sri Lanka’s foremost environmental architects, who took on the challenge of introducing a wetland system on reclaimed agricultural lands within the dry historical zone. Drawing from local rural traditions, the buildings grow not out of, but into the landscape and overlook water or paddy fields, where the traditions of village paddy culture continue being practiced dating back to ancient times.
You can dine ‘under the stars’ or enjoy one of the magical nightly lorises walks round the area and then pop into the hotel’s Island Spa, which offers a range of treatments. Jetwing says ‘whether it is the nature lover in you or the task of ‘finding yourself again’, treat yourself to an experience that is all about getting back to your natural roots.