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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 12, 2018
Headline for 4 Historic Places to Explore in Sri Lanka – Explore two Millennia of History
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Joanna James Joanna James
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4 Historic Places to Explore in Sri Lanka – Explore two Millennia of History

Sri Lanka has a history that stretches back over 2000 years. With six World Heritage Sites and a number of ancient sites, the country is a gold mine of historical sites.

1

Anuradhapura

This is one of the oldest cities in the country and the beginnings of it can be traced back to the 3rd century. It was the capital for roughly thousand years and the ruins of the past civilizations have been perfectly preserved with some structures still being used for religious purposes. Anuradhapura is also home to the Sri Maha Bodhi which was once a fig of Buddha's bo tree. One can witness the signs and the role Buddhism has played in this ancient city thanks to the many imposing dagobas over the area such as the Ruwanweli and the Thuparama. Located approximately two hundred kilometres from the capital, Anuradhapura gives you an excellent glimpse into the marvellous architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.

2

Sigiriya

Widely considered as the eight world wonder of the world, this ancient rock fortress is perhaps the most dramatic of sights in this tiny island nation. What was once a place for Buddhist monks to seek refuge was turned into rock fortress during the short lived reign of King Kassapa. A long flight of limestone rocks flanked by two gigantic lion paws take you to the top and it is recommended that you do not forget to view the frescoes atop. Soaring to a height of two hundred meters, it is quite famous for their paintings that adorn the wall as well as the well manicured gardens and pools at the top of the rock.

3

Kande Viharaya Temple

Also known as the Mountain temple, which is derived from the fact that it is atop a hill, the Kande Viharaya played a major role in the Buddhist history in the country. The Bodhi tree in the premises is estimated to be at least three hundred years old and the pirivena is one of the key centres for education on Buddhism. The Kande Viharaya Temple is also home to a sitting Buddha statue that is almost forty nine meters high and is one of the tallest of its kind in the world. Once you enter the inside of the chambers, you can see paintings of the ancient Jataka tales that depict phases of Buddha's life. On can find a good resort in Bentota with many examples such as AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa, which is a short distance from the Kande Viharaya.

4

Polonnaruwa

The old city of Polonnaruwa has some of the best and well preserved ruins in the country. It is also remarkably well planned which is a testament to the attention that was paid to the city planning aspect. The city is home to many palaces of Kings who ruled in the 12th century. The majestic Royal Citadel that was constructed back in the twelfth century encloses the entire old city. The once thriving commercial hub has a large share of tombs, statues and other ruins that you can lose yourself in the whole day.