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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for 05 Cultural Heritage Sites to Visit in Sri Lanka – Ancient Splendours which Still Beguile
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Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Cultural Heritage Sites to Visit in Sri Lanka – Ancient Splendours which Still Beguile

Sri Lanka is an ancient land of much splendour. Vintage kingdoms and strong roots embedded in Buddhism, makes this a culturally rich nation, just waiting to be explored. Here are the best.

1

Anuradhapura

Any tourist interested in the rich culture of Sri Lanka, must make a plan to tour the Cultural Triangle Region of the island. Anuradhapura is the first from the northern end; it boasts the privilege of being the island nation's first kingdom and also of being a rich heritage city and treasured Buddhist pilgrimage site. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Anuradhapura is home to vintage stone sculptures, remains of ancient palaces, and gardens set up for Buddhist monks. Most of the relics date as far back as, or even before the 1st century, but the most prized possession is the Sri Maha Bodhiya, which is the world's oldest recorded tree, believed to be a branch of the very tree, the Buddha attained Nirvana under.

2

Dambulla

Dambulla is featured in many a cultural literature, and reading the likes of Cinnamon Magazine, will give you an idea what to expect. The rustic town is home to the rock cave temples, which sit at the summit of a huge boulder, 160 metres high and 1.5kms in circumference at its base. The caves served as a home to the exiled King Walagamba, who on his return to the throne, by the 1st century, deemed the caves be turned into a temple. Of the over 22 caves located within the network, five are part of the temple. Within these caves are statues of the Buddha, antique sculptures of ancient kings and Hindu gods as well as, artistic paintings and murals, which adorn the cave walls and roof. Featured in many a travel and lifestyle magazine, these caves and their treasures are deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3

Kataragama

Kataragama is visited by Buddhist and Hindu devotees. The place is a shrine of mixed religious devotions, while the main Temple is dedicated to the God Kataragama. The place is steeped in ancient rituals, mystery and traditions and is even visited by the indigenous tribes of Sri Lanka, the Vedda. Visiting the place, especially at night, will showcase devotees taking part in age-old rituals, offering alms and even sacrificing the body, as acts of devotion; on this subject you will find the firewalkers, kawadi dancers and those strung up on hooks quite a fascinating part of the Kataragama rituals.

4

Aukana

This is a statue located in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, a treasured icon; the Aukana statue is located within the Aukana Raja Maha Viharaya and stands at a height of 12 metres. Believed to have been built in the 5th century by King Datusena, this statue is over 1500 years old.

5

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a sleepy village located in the dry zone. The place is home to rustic scrub jungles, picturesque villages and hordes of wild elephants. The most iconic attraction there is the Lions Rock Fortress, built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century. The fortress is built around, within and on top of the giant rock, which stands over 600 metres in height. The place is a marvel of ancient architecture and harbours world famous attractions such as, the Sigiriya Frescos and the Mirror Wall.

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