A place where relaxation, tranquility, meditation, yoga & yourself become one. A different way of life, an eye opening travel experience that will help you re-evaluate your life and change it all from a place of total peace.
Ulpotha has been a pilgrimage site for thousands of years and remains an oasis of tranquility in the heart of Sri Lanka. It is open to guests for part of the year; a place of total peace, where you can experience the warm, generous and gentle hospitality which Sri Lankans love to offer.
Ulpotha is a traditional working village cradled on the one side by low mountains and a lotus ringed lake, and on the other by tiny emerald green paddy fields. Our focus, at present, is on the restoration of an ageless agricultural way of life including bio-diverse organic farming and reforestation of the land and its immediate surroundings.
Guests are welcome to Ulpotha and those who come will find a natural sanctuary of exceptional beauty where the main activity is simply relaxing in its remarkable atmosphere of peace and calm. However, for those more purposeful in nature, Ayurveda therapies and Yoga classes are available. The Ayurveda is administered by Dr Srilal Mudunkothge, an acclaimed practitioner of this ancient, holistic medical art, while the Yoga classes are led by some of the world's leading Yoga teachers.
Ayurveda by its very nature is a very gentle and subtle approach to well-being. As such one should not expect dramatic changes or results as a consequence of a short treatment - in Ayurveda terms, anything less than four weeks is 'short'. What Ayurveda can do is to help you feel better as it shows you the path to a healthy balance between body, mind and spirit.
Ulpotha only takes guests for 11 weeks in June - August and for another 18 weeks from November to March. The weather varies little and groups are timed to coincide with the end of the rainy season. More of the owners' friends come at Christmas - so it's very lively, and there may be more children.
Every morning there's usually an optional yoga class in a large, open-sided building with a palm leaf roof, or in the cool dappled shade of a banyan tree. Some teach one class a day, others two and some run separate classes for yoga students of different standards. Many also guide early morning walks in the beautifully wooded surrounding hills.
- Transport for excursions to cultural sites, one massage per week, accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, 3 tasty veggie meals per day plus snacks, teas and juices, walks to the local temple.
- You will be met at the airport and brought back to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of 4 people) is approximately $100 each way. The transfer cost should be paid to the driver. Please enquire should you wish to be collected or dropped off at a location in Sri Lanka other than the airport
Ulpotha is a very safe place well away from former trouble hot spots - which were located in the far North and East coast of the island. The great thing is you don't even need to go into Colombo if you don't want to - the transfer from the airport to Ulpotha avoids the city.
As of May 2009, the war in the north is now officially over and the Tamil Tigers have stated they will no longer oppose the government militarily. Anyone travelling to Sri Lanka now is perfectly safe from any terrorist threat.
At Ulpotha you will find treatments are based on the ancient Vedic wisdom found in local village medicine. The special herbs used for the traditional steam bath, or infused into warm oil treatments, which mesmerise, sooth and calm, have been valued in this area for thousands of years.
All the yoga, massage and native village treatments are included in the cost of your holiday. Full Ayurvedic packages ranging from one week to four week treatments are also available at an additional cost subject to a free consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor.
Many of the UK's most respected yoga teachers come to Ulpotha. As the teachers usually change every fortnight several types of yoga - usually Hatha, Sivananda, Iyengar and Astanga - are available at different times in the season.
As Ulpotha attracts some world-class yoga instructors some guests go mainly for the yoga classes. But it isn't primarily a yoga centre, there's no pressure to attend classes and life doesn't hinge on classes of any kind. So you won't feel an outsider if yoga isn't for you. This is a place to unwind, be gentle with yourself, live close to nature and simply be, rather than a place to exercise and strive.
Ulpotha provides yoga mats, wooden blocks, belts, small flat cushions & bolsters in the yoga shala.
The western massage treatments range from Thai or deep tissue massage, or aromatherapy, to Shiatsu. They are done by fully qualified massage therapists from Europe and massage styles change from month to month, as Ulpotha uses different massage experts each month. Guests can expect one free massage from visiting therapists per week. Any further massages can be arranged with the therapists subject to availability at a cost of $60 per hour. Please note though that if you are undergoing an Ayurveda programme the doctor may advise you not to have any Western massage therapies that may interfere with your treatment.
As of January 1st 2012 all Foreign nationals arriving in Sri lanka for holiday or business will need a visa on arrival. This can be obtained through your travel agent when booking your ticket or online at www.eta.gov.lkt
What to Take with you
Very little indeed. Repeat guests leave valuables and smart clothes at home: virtually nobody wears them and termites may nibble them. The sarong you're given on arrival makes a wonderfully cool and comfortable dress, or a ‘kilt’ for either sex. Ulpotha also sells other sarongs in stunning colours. So people wear little else. Women need something arm-covering and leg-covering, for occasional cool evenings, and preferably in white or light colours, for visiting temples. You might also need 'uphill shoes' for walks or reaching the mobile phone spot and clothes for cycling or walking. Flip flops are useful as shoes are not worn in any of the huts or main house, and they are easier to slip on and off than lace ups. Rain is rare but, when it comes, it deluges. Ulpotha has umbrellas but shoes that tolerate drowning are useful. Ulpotha provides towels but a beach towel is useful too.
The food at Ulpotha is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, naturally wheat free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice and tropical fruit freshly picked from Ulpotha's gardens. A good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss. Special diets can not be catered for but it is fairly easy to pick and choose depending on your taste from the many dishes served at each meal. If there is anything that you feel that you simply can't do without (coffee, a gin & tonic, chocolate and the like) - we suggest you bring it with you.
Responsible Travel Policies in Ulpotha
Ulpotha is run as a self-sustained village, where the vast majority of staff are from immediately surrounding local villages and who live in and largely run Ulpotha themselves.
Nearly all the food consumed in Ulpotha is grown on site. In addition to growing rice, fruits, vegetables and timber trees, we have recently started growing medicinal plants and trees used for making Ayurvedic medicines.
Ulpotha regularly invests in services and amenities for the local community (rebuilding and maintaining the reservoir that is central to local agriculture, creation of a free Ayurveda clinic for the surrounding villages, donations to the local hospitals and temples, all which are done in the lowest profile way possible.
The Ayurvedic treatment center within Ulpotha, which serves paying guests, is used to fund the year-round Free Clinic for the surrounding villages.
Only local products and services are made available to guests
Optional Ayurveda Supplement
Specialised Ayurvedic programmes are available from one week treatments to four week treatments.
From $400 Per Person Per Week
Ulpotha is one of the best examples of responsible tourism - one that exceeds all expectations and impacts the world in an on-going, sustainable and positive manner
Islands magazine - Hot 100 Blue List
In a world in which Gucci has diversified into yoga mats,...Ulpotha offers a back-to-basics approach to yoga.
The essential 25 - The Best Places, Journeys & Adventures in the World, Observer Magazine, February 2006
Ulpotha remains for me the most beautiful spot in this whole complex world that I am lucky enough to travel around. Inspiring, peaceful, euphoric, restorative, eye-opening, caressing, sensuous, calming and blissed out!
Catherine Fairweather, Travel Editor - Harpers & Queen.
Ulpotha is a place totally free from western influences and unlike any other Retreat..._the entire experience is a spiritual high! Best Spas and Retreats of the World
The thing I love about Ulpotha is that it brings the best out in people - it brings out attributes they didn't know they had. You can sense this in the Visitor's Book as people strive to explain their feelings and share their experiences. For me Ulpotha has been a pivot which has changed my life irrevocably. Each time I come here I think that it can't keep working its magic on me - but it always does, and that makes me very happy!
That afternoon I treated myself to a Sri Lankan sauna. This involves lying on a raised mat with pots of boiling water and herbal infusions underneath you. When I had sweated out enough impurities, I was asked to sit on a wooden stool amid dappled sunlight. An ancient villager, well versed in the therapeutic arts, then rubbed me down with a bunch of leaves, before dousing me with their combined infusion. There was more to come. Back in the manor house I got the full treatment from the [masseuses]... One does Swedish massage while the other specialises in a Japanese technique, which can only be described as acupuncture without the needles. By the end of this my limbs felt like jelly and I began to understand why my fellow guests went to bed so early. After three hours of yoga every morning and having your pressure points manipulated all afternoon, it is hardly surprising that you sleep like a baby.
The Daily Telegraph
Although there are glorious Buddhist temples and ancient ruined cities to be seen in other parts of Sri Lanka, it is Ulpotha itself I will remember, and the feeling that, for a while, I was a part of a small world so distant in every way from my own.
Country Life Magazine
The living conditions had far exceeded my expectations, both in terms of comfort and aesthetics. I was convinced that the food would conform to a dull diet of macrobiotic mastication on rice and lentils. Instead, I was totally overwhelmed by the variety and sophistication of the meals, mixing bizarre salad leaves with spiced vegetable dishes, coconut sauces, various types of rice, pulses, juices, fruit bowls and herbal drinks.
The Financial Times
Uncommon ruins and the lush remaining edges of a once mighty forest canopy can be seen, together with forest paths, secluded spots, exotic wild life, ancient reservoirs, traditional village life, and a nearby mountainside monastery....The climate is ideal, being refreshed by cool and near constant breezes....the spiritual and ageless cultural customs are respected and adhered to, ensuring that the sanctuary remains an oasis of harmonious coexistence between nature and human beings.
Yoga & Health Magazine
Ulpotha is a discovery - it tells you things you simply cannot hear from a distance......who needs air-conditioning when you have the breeze coming fresh off the just-harvested paddy fields. And who needs a bathtub when you have Ulpotha's lake, and water lilies, and sheltering mountains. And who needs electricity when you have coconut oil to illuminate the sumptuous dinners, and the healthy glow of friends faces. And who needs a car when you have your trusty bicycle to take you through the village lanes and around the other lakes, where the people wave you on, and you can savour the precious space.... Thank you for making Ulpotha a place where we can come to remind ourselves of how good it is to be alive!
Floating on the lake, gazing at the stars and walking at night among the fireflies and eating delicious feasts among friends - Thank you for these inspiring days that have passed effortlessly by. You have created a most perfect world in a most perfect place.
This is the Ulpotha sanctuary - an oasis in the jungle, tended and cared for by many - some of whom are not even seen or heard, but all sharing a vision for the future, derived from the past. There is balance everywhere - working and playing, solitude and partying, simplicity and indulgence.
Ulpotha is an inspiration to behold. The beauty which surrounds the area, the tranquillity, the sounds of nature awakening with the sunrise, everything bursting into life in one chorus, the brilliant stars wisely gazing down in a clear sky at night, words don't adequately explain the feelings and experience of living here. New resolves made about calmness, healthy living and communing more with nature will be kept by me and reinforced by subsequent visits here. Thank you all for restoring my faith in humanity - I shall return.
Ulpotha feels like an unreal floating island of its own, but it is undeniably mud-in-toes real.
After spending this very short time here I have been inspired to heights I cannot believe. The creators of Ulpotha have excelled in the real essence of true simple life. I will take with me 'to know the tradition, live the tradition' and will share with others.
Such a brilliant vision - A privilege to live here for two weeks. I really hope it lasts - This is the future, it has to be. Teeming with life and vitality - refreshing and inspiring.
Ulpotha - A hedonist's Shangri-La. A place of peace, joy, laughter, play, time vacuums, warmth, safety, talking and healing. A place to disappear and reappear renewed and revitalised to the core of yourself - A gift I hope to keep hold of until I can return. The gift you have created here cannot be put into words.
How good it is to do nothing ...and then rest a little' [is an] old Andalucian saying... Well, in fact I did an awful lot each day here: yoga and the surrounding hills made me buzz with good energy and want to skip and play.... Just knowing this sanctuary is here will be a source of strength; remembering that groups can live well together based on trust and acceptance. Thank you for this big gift.
As near to paradise as I have ever been. I've loved it all and I know I'll come back.
What strikes you when you first arrive in Ulpotha is the physical beauty of the place as well as its extraordinary tranquillity...
A steady flow of western practitioners passes through over the two seasons, adding acupuncture, reflexology and other treatments to the repertoire, beyond pure ayurveda. Again, none of these requires dipping into your pocket so, in addition to media, electricity and cappuccinos, you can forget about money for a while.
If this sounds too virtuous and worthy for you, feel free to crack open your bottle of duty-free scotch or wine and dance all night, to sounds provided by local musicians and twinkling lights by nature. Ulpotha is not an ashram. It’s about letting go, having fun and unleashing the Peter Pan that lurks within us all.