Cultural & Heritage Sites
Sri Lanka’s cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO which has declared six archaeological world heritage sites in the country:
The sacred city of Kandy
Kandy became the capital city of the last remaining independent kingdom in Sri Lanka after the coastal regions had been conquered by the Portuguese. Invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch (16th, 17th and 18th century) and also by the British (most notably in 1803) were repelled.
The sacred city of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is the largest and oldest of all ancient cities in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura is a fitting climax to any tour of the Cultural Triangle and world famous for its well preserved ruins of the great Sri Lankan civilization. The civilization which was built upon this city was one of the greatest civilizations of Asia and in the world. Anuradhapura was the royal seat of more than 250 Buddhist and Hindu kings recorded in the royal genealogies and the preeminent city on the island for some 1400 years.
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient city of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms; Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader. While Vijayabahu’s victory and shifting of Kingdoms to the more strategic Polonnaruwa is considered significant, the real Polonnaruwa Hero of the history books is actually his grandson, Parakramabahu I. The city Polonnaruwa was also called as Jananathamangalam during the short Chola reign.
The golden temple of Dambulla
Dambulla is a world heritage site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. Dambulla was designated a World Heritage site in 1991. This site is situated 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. It is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. This paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life. There are total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The later 4 include two statues of Hindu gods, god Vishnu and god Ganesh. The murals, covers an area of 2,100 square meters. Depictions in the walls of the caves include Buddha’s temptation by Mara (demon) and Buddha’s first sermon.
The ancient city of Sigiriya
Sigiriya also known as Lion Rock, the archeological rock fortress or lion -mountain and palace of the Sigiriya situated in the central province in Matale District of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya was designated a World Heritage site in 1988. Sigiriya presents a unique concentration of fifth century urban planning, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, arts and architecture, engineering and hydraulic technology. The Sigiriya rock is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano. The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts. Popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings. The Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kasyapa (AD 477 – 495) in Anuradhapura period.
The old town of Galle and its fortifications
In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. With 14 massive bastions, a grid system of streets, and some original Dutch bungalows, the fort bustles with life just as it did when Galle was the country’s main port. It’s simply one of the most unique attractions in Sri Lanka.