From modern urban perspectives, indigenous housing practices are regarded as undeveloped, backward, and require improvements. They may be valid for measuring on the basis of standards alien to the communities. However, these perceptions have obfuscated the appreciation and potential adoption of holistic, culturally relevant, and traditionally tested approaches to planning and housing that have sustained communities for centuries. Sri Lankan indigenous settlements have been founded on principles and understanding acquired through the wisdom of Buddhism. For the Sri Lankan indigenous, sustainability has been an intrinsic accompaniment to everyday life, unlike articulated modern discourses. However, these traditions exert minimal benefits to recent housing practices, and researchers are looking elsewhere to develop mechanisms to infuse sustainability as a recently discovered issue of significance. The present study examines the principles underlying several indigenous settlements in Sri Lanka through close observations supported by documented evidence and demonstrates their validity and appropriateness for contemporary planning practices. This study argues that approaches to sustainability should be generated holistically from within rather than from the outside and offers several propositions that can redirect the contemporary housing and planning practices. © 2018