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Updated by Hiru Piumwardena on Jul 12, 2019
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Why Do YOU Need Sri Lanka - Part 01

Sri Lanka has had a long and colourful past, reflected in the monuments that remain. The tropical island is beautiful, with stretches of white sands hours away from green valleys and hills. Though reeling from a recent terrorist attack, Sri Lanka is eager to heal and restore itself, and welcome guests. Travelling from one end to another is easy, and there are a variety of amazing experiences along the way!

1

Kandy Esala Perahera

Kandy Esala Perahera

During Esala, which falls in July this year, Kandy hosts one of the most grand, significant and majestic parades in all of Asia. Featuring musicians, dancers, street performers including fire breathers and acrobats as well as show stopping bedazzled elephants, the Kandy Esala Perahera is one of the most exciting things to do in Kandy. The festivities last for ten days, and the once reigning capital of Sri Lanka is aglow with the lights and sounds of joyous celebrations. The term perahera means parade in Sinhalese, referring to a magnificent parade that sees the sacred tooth relic of Buddha being carried on the back of an elephant through the winding streets of Kandy as onlookers revel in the performances of the artists and thoroughly enjoy the happy occasion. The experience is a vivid one, as travellers can feel a part of the vibrant community as they view the parade that is unlike any other.

2

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

The most famous fortress in the country - Sigiriya - is also one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka! A meandering complex that features water gardens, caves, and steps both stony and metal that have travellers climbing up the side of a massive natural rock fortress, Sigiriya has everything going for it. Some of the highlights include the huge lion paws that protect the last staircase that leads to the rock itself, in fact the very name Sigiriya means Lion Rock! A spiral staircase leads you up to a cave hewn from the stone that features beautiful frescoes, thought to be queens or priestesses. The top of the rock features ruins of the palace itself, as well as a wonderful panorama of the deep green countryside. Sigiriya thus mixes adventure with a taste of history, and a healthy appreciation of both man’s skills and nature’s beauty.

3

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

Close to Kandy and on the way to Anuradhapura is the Dambulla Cave Temple. Featuring a scenic walk up the sloping side of a rock, along with some adorable hordes of monkeys along the way, the cave temple is a relic of ages past. An immense cavern on the side of the rock, thought to be mostly natural with some man-made help, features five caves or shrine rooms that are filled with statues of Buddha as well as other important people in Buddhism history. Over 150 images of Buddha are stored in these caverns, making it a sacred place that combines art with religion. There are paintings along the cave as well, sprawling designs that speak to the talent and piety of those in the past. The combination of being cloistered in the cool caves while viewing these artworks is an awe-inspiring one.

4

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is one of Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdoms, and the city holds wonders that will take upwards of two days to fully explore and appreciate. It is easy to bike around some of the ruins, enjoying the shade of the cool trees as you take in the sights. Polonnaruwa holds many ruins, including the palace of King Parakramabahu. The thick walls allow one to imagine an impressive palace. Nearby is the Kumara Pokuna, a shady pool believed to have been used by royals of the household. The Nelum Pokuna, which is designed to look like a Lotus flower and features eight petals, is also beautiful. The Shiva Devale is the oldest structure in the city and remains almost exactly as it was when it was built. Viewing the abodes of royalty calls to mind incredible luxury escapes in Sri Lanka, where it is possible to live like a king for a while!

5

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura

The thriving city of Anuradhapura holds some of Sri Lanka’s most impressive structures, namely the Abhayagiri, Ruvanvelisaya and Jetavanarama Dagobas. Massive in scale, the latter is famous for being the third tallest structure in the ancient world, behind only two Egyptian pyramids. The dagobas reach for the sky in the shape of domes, an impressive sight to behold with the sun shining behind them. Anuradhapura is also home to the Sri Maha Bodhi, what is considered to be the oldest authenticated tree in the world. Grown from a cutting of a sacred tree from India, the tree has been protected for thousands of years, and calls pilgrims from all over the island. Ensconced in its own area, the tree is a wonder that is respected. Anuradhapura’s collection of ancient artefacts allows travellers to reflect upon the passage of time, appreciating the place of mankind in the time stream of the universe.