According to recorded history Anuradhapura is the first great capital of the Sinhala society, this extensive city still holds relics of architectural ruins of ancient kingdoms and Buddhist temples not witnessed in most parts of the world. Be prepared to embrace history the minute you step into this sacred city; Anuradhapura. It’s the base of ancient Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka and an ancient city with a rich heritage in history, culture, politics and religion.
Another magnificent sight is the Jetavanaramaya, considered the largest Dagoba in the world. The city is spread with ruins of ancient Dagobas and other sites of religious significance. Their complicated carvings and sculptures are remarkable and the ancient stones speaks of the days of yore when the city was ruled by brave kings presided over by Buddhist clergy. Pilgrims from around the world flock to Anuradhapura as it is regarded as a place where Buddhism is safeguarded for humanity.
It is so unfortunate that the city finally decline in importance due to foreign invasion and went into disorder as Polonnaruwa gained in prominence in the 10th century AD. A complete Archaeological Museum located in the city offers a greater understanding of the city’s unique monuments.
The city remained the capital for almost 1,000 years and during the height of its rise, commands tremendous respect and influence in the world. There is little to do in the city apart from visiting the ancient temples, monasteries and tanks. A visit to Anuradhapura leaves the visitor with a sense of wonder and history so deep that the experience lingers long after the visit.
Mahawamsa and Culavamsa speak of Pulasthipura; the early historical name of Polonnaruwa; a UNESCO world heritage site, has a great history of conquest and struggle behind it and rightfully forms the third element in the Cultural Triangle. Located about 140 kms north east from Kandy, Polonnaruwa offers hours of endless pleasure for history and culture lovers, as there are numerous sights of significance.
Polonnaruwa, with its conserved ruins and renovated ancient irrigation reservoirs is a “must visit” destination of Sri Lanka. As much as the conserved cultural monuments would enlighten the tourists, the wild life sanctuaries in the district of Polonnaruwa affords ample opportunities for the joy and fun in the close range of wild elephants, other mammals to the lovers of wildlife. At the city of Polonnaruwa the largest ancient irrigation reservoir called Parakrama Samudra (the Sea of Parakrama) which is always lovely, and with the excess of birdlife, it is seldom that there is not something interesting going on upon its shimmering expanses of waters.
Polonnaruwa is located in between Wildlife at Minneriya National Park, Wasgamuwa National Park, Kaudulla National Park and Eco Hotels at Kandalama & Habarana.
One should not miss the breath-taking experience of Sigiriya, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. The rock of Sigiriya is located 22 kms North-East of Dambulla in the North Central Province. From the third century BCE, Buddhist monks occupied Sigiriya, but it said that it was only after King Kasyapa seizing the throne in 487 AD the palace and gardens were built and the rock fortified. (Debated)
The last capital of Sri Lanka, the history of Kandy evokes images of riches, marching elephants and much pomp and pageantry. Colombo, Kandy is amongst a hilly terrain and all eyes are drawn to the centre of the city, where the Kandy Lake forms a charming feature. It’s one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. Kandy was last home to the Kandyan Kings of yore in the 19th-century and a fountain for all the music, arts, crafts and culture in the country. Taking in a performance of Kandyan Dancers is rather like floating on an unending wave where rhythm and movement become one against the backdrop of the throbbing drums.
Dambulla is also part of the Cultural Triangle and houses the Great Dambulla Cave Temple declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 78 kms north of Kandy, the Dambulla caves date back to the 1st century BCE. Originally it was the refuge of King Valagambahu, and the caves were later converted into a rock temple. It houses beautiful frescoes and an imposing 15 metre-long reclining Buddha. Hindu deities are also represented in these caves. The caves are considered to be the finest storehouse of Sinhala art and sculpture.
This fortified harbour city is a poetic blend of eastern architecture and another UNESCO World Heritage site. Galle was an ancient seaport, a centre for trade along the silk route, where possibly large shiploads of spices and silks were exchanged for precious gems and the rubies. As a strategically located ancient seaport, Galle has strong Chinese, Moor, Dutch, Portuguese and British influences. The town has an old-fashioned feeling and a stroll at leisure through the ramparts of the fortress area carry you back to another era as it were.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests eco region, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve’s name translates as Kingdom of the Lion. It is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala.
Peak Wilderness sanctuary is the third largest natural reserve of the 50 reserves that are in Sri Lanka. Peak Wilderness sanctuary is a tropical rain forest that spreads over a land of 224 square kilometres around the Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) mountain. A huge forest area that belonged to the Peak Wilderness was cut down and cleared during the British colonial rule in Sri Lanka (1815-1948) to gain land for the massive tea estates which are still functioning in Nuwara Eliya district. The remaining portion of the Peak Wilderness was declared a wildlife sanctuary on October 25, 1940.