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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Cultural Sites in Sri Lanka – Let's Follow the Ancient Trails
Joanna James Joanna James
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Cultural Sites in Sri Lanka – Let's Follow the Ancient Trails

Marvellous Sri Lanka will not only beguile with gorgeous beaches and ever changing terrain; it's also a treasure chest of cultural artefacts. Come explore the Cultural Triangle and ancient relics.


Anuradhapura the First Kingdom

If you are on a cultural trail then Anuradhapura a UNESCO World Heritage Site should be your first stop. Part of the country's Cultural Triangle this ancient city deemed sacred by Buddhist devotees was home to the islands the first kingdom set up by King Vijaya. The city served as capital from the 4th century to the 11th century and has many well preserved sites that are iconic attractions and revered pilgrimage sites. You need to visit the Ruwanveliseya Dagoba the largest monuments from the ancient world; this is one of the 8 venerated sites in Anuradhapura. There is the Sri Maha Bodhiya the oldest recorded tree in history; believed to be a sapling of the Bo tree Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under. These and many more sites await the culture buff in the Sacred City.


Dambulla Rock Temples

Dambulla also located in the north central dry zone of Sri Lanka is home to the world famous Rock Temples. A network of over 20 caves was discovered on the summit of huge boulder towering over the town. Amongst these 5 caves are temples; within you will find ancient murals painted on the walls and ceilings as well as ancient statues of Lord Buddha, Hindu gods and kings. These are the countries beast preserved relics and date back to the start of civilization. Dambulla is also home to the prehistoric burial site of Ibbankatuwa; which proves the presence of an indigenous civilization before the arrival of Indian Prince Vijaya.


Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 the ancient city of Sigiriya just 15 minutes from Dambulla is home to the 8th Wonder of the World the Lions Rock Fortress. Built by 5th century King Kashyapa this is a citadel based on a 660 foot high rock that looms above a verdant forest. Living a recluse life in fear of attack the king set up his kingdom and harem within the rock fortress. Lion's paws are carved out of granite at the base while the entrance is via a lion's head; hence the name. The rooftop boasts sky gardens and lotus ponds while within are the famous Sigiriya frescoes and the Mirror Wall. Walk around and discover meditation caves above which ponds are erected to keep the caves cool as well as boulder gardens and an infrastructure that surpasses the technology of that era. For a thorough scout of this region choose Sri Lanka package holidays that specialise in cultural trails.


The Last Kingdom – Kandy

Kandy is the capital of Sri Lanka's salubrious central hill province. A beautiful region of misty mountains and lots of cultures this was where the last king lived. The most iconic attraction in Kandy is the Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth; a shrine that holds the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. As experienced guides from Jetwing Travels will point out this relic is believed to offer the power of rulership to anyone who possesses it; hence it was always in the possession of the country's kings. The temple is based in the old palace and overlooks the iconic Kandy Lake.


Galle a Colonists Stronghold

UNESCO World Heritage Site the port city of Galle cannot be ignored although it is not part of the cultural triangle. It is, however, a must visit for an insight into the country's colonial past. The ancient Dutch Fort remains as impressive as it did in days of yore. Established by the Portuguese in 1588 and strengthened and enhanced by the preceding Dutch and British this fort is a major tourist attraction. Within are well preserved cobble stoned streets along which vintage Dutch bungalows are seen. Little roadside cafes, a Dutch Museum and an ancient Lighthouse placed on the South's highest point are just a few of the cultural lures awaiting you in Galle.