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Updated by Pixie on Jul 18, 2018
Headline for What you NEED to know about Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle
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What you NEED to know about Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle

The cultural triangle in Sri Lanka is a treasure trove as it encapsulates some of the world’s finest ancient Buddhist art & monuments. The triangle marks three points of Sinhalese capital cities: Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. The northern part is referred to as Rajarata in the native Sinhala language, which translates into King’s Land. Kandy marks the southern section; the area that was ruled by the Kandyan empire during the 14th and 19th centuries.

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The Ancient Capitals

The Ancient Capitals

Anuradhapura is, in fact, one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world. It was constructed in 380 BC and was later abandoned in the 10th century AD due to the invasion of the Indians. This city was the very first capital of the island. It was thriving as it had a great irrigation system and architectural expertise. It is also known to be one of the most sacred cities of Buddhism thus making it a vital UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the significant attractions in this city is the sacred Bodhi Tree which is believed to have grown from the sapling of the Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of the island after defeating the Chola invaders in 1070. Again, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city boasts many archaeological relics. Additionally, it also happens to be one of the best-planned sites in the country due to its expertise irrigation systems in comparison to its larger predecessor kingdom.

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Sigiriya

Sigiriya

Well-known by the tourists as the Lion Rock, it lies in the middle of the triangle in the Matale district. It was once a fortress that was built on a giant rock during the period 447-495 CE; thus, making it an engineering marvel to date. The fortress is considered to be one of the best examples that depict superior urban planning. At present, Sigiriya is a popular destination for both locals and tourists to visit to witness the remains of the fortress, its magnificent mirror wall, and the frescoes on the wall. Most of the frescoes have faded over time, however, there are a few which have been well-preserved. The fortress is surrounded by three different gardens; water, boulder and terraced, which is best appreciated from the top of the rock. Hotel Sigiriya is one of the many popular hotels that's located in proximity to the rock.

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Dambulla

Dambulla

Situated in Matale district, in close proximity to the Sigiriya rock, this city is well known for its largest, well-preserved cave temple; the Dambulla Cave Temple. The temple accommodates a giant statue of a resting Buddha and is surrounded by walls that have paintings depicting the life of Lord Buddha and his teachings. Out of the 80 documented caves, devotees are only allowed to visit 5 caves. Tourists visiting the island have a variety of accommodation options to choose from near the temple such as Jetwing Lake.

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Kandy

Kandy

Also referred to as “Maha Nuwara” in Sinhala, lies in the central highlands. It is known to be the religious and administrative capital of the central province in Sri Lanka. The central location makes it an effective transportation centre in the country. One of the main attractions in this city is another UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic also known as the “Dalada Maligawa”. The temple is built on a granite base and is constructed using marble, limestone and even ivory which adds grandeur to the temple. Since it is a place of worship, tourists are encouraged to be respectful and wear appropriate clothing.

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Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage

The cultural triangle, due to its many religious monuments and temples, makes it a common route for pilgrimage. Tourists are also welcome to participate in pilgrimages, however, it is best to be escorted by a local to be well informed of the rituals and customs. If you're looking for a comprehensive tour package that will cover all of the scenic locales of the Cultural Triangle, there are a number of tour agencies like Diethelm Travel Sri Lanka who can assist you!