Historical And Cultural Sites


From stunning rock carvings and temples to giant stone pillars, history lovers are in for a rare treat at Anuradhapura, the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. Located 206 km from Colombo, Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s major archaeological sites. Perfectly landscaped pleasure gardens,vast irrigation lakes and places of religious worship are a plenty here and Anuradhapura also features the spectacular Ruwanweli Seya dagoba and the sacred bo-tree Sri Maha Bodhi which is one of the oldest trees in the world. Other attractions include the Aukana Buddha Statue, Mihintale Rock, Abhayagiri Stupa and Monastery and the “Isurumuniya Lovers” rock carvings.


Polonnaruwa is Sri Lanka’s second oldest kingdom and features a plethora of ruins and places of religious worship. Ancient Sinhala architecture combined with the South Indian architectural characteristics is what sets Polonnaruwa apart from Anuradhapura. Some of the many interesting places to visit in Polonnaruwa include the Gal Viharaya (Stone temple),Lankathilake Buddhist shrine,the Tivanka Image House,the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya and of course the famous Moonstones – the unique rock carvings found at the entrances or at the bottom of stairways to temples, shrines, dagobas, and other important buildings.


The Dambulla Templae is located on a gigantic rock towering more than 160 m above the surrounding area. The Rock itself is more than 1.5 km around its base and summit is at 550 km. The caves on this rock were the refuge of King Walagamba when he was in exile for 14 years. After his return to the throne in the 1st century BC, King Walagamba had this magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla. The caves feature a mixture of religious and worldly paintings and sculptures. Several reclining Buddha’s which includes the 15 m long sculpture of the dying Buddha. The famous Dambulla frescoes on the walls and ceiling dates back to the 15th-18th centuries.


Kataragama is famous for its place of religious worship, and the rituals that are a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu philosophies. It is mesmerizing city of traditions, religion and superstition and a place of annual pilgrimage for thousands of Buddhist and Hindu devotees. Kataragama is also important for the indigenous people of Sri Lanka, the Veddahs,who visit it as a part of their traditional rituals.


Located in Sri Lanka’s cultural capital Anuradhapura, the Aukana Buddha Statue is one of the most spectacular monuments in Sri Lanka. Situated within the Aukana Rajamaha Viharaya (the temple complex), the Aukana Buddha Statue, built in the 5th century AD when King Dhatusena ruled, stands 12 metres tall and is more than 1500 years old.


Sigiriya is a magnificent rock fortress built in the 5th century A.D. This majestic Citadel in the sky was the refuge of King Kasyapa who murdered his father and stole the throne from his elder brother – the rightful heir to the throne. Kasyapa built his fortress on this 182 meter high rock to protect himself from his enemies. Sigiriya is world renowned for its ‘Mirror Wall’, which consists of poems and paragraphs carved by some of the thousands of visitors who visited the rock many years ago, and of course for its magnificent frescoes, similar to the Ajantha frescoes of India. Sigiriya is in fact, the best-preserved city centre in Asia from the first millennium and has been named as a world heritage site.


Mihintale is the site where Buddhism is believed to have arrived in Sri Lanka. Situated just 12km East of Anuradhapura, it is a place of unparalleled importance to the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, who flock here on pilgrimage during the Poson Poya celebration in June of each year. It is here, that Arahat Mahinda,the son of King Ashoka of India, is believed to have met King Devanampiyatissa, and introduced him to the noble precepts of Buddhism. The arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka has influenced society and life in this country to this very day.

The climb to the site, where the meeting between Arahat Mahinda and the King took place is 1840 steps (300m) high up the mountain peak that is one from among many in a mountain range. However Mihintale is about more than just the famous peak, due to the importance of the site, from ancient times, many other constructions were also established heret. Here you will find the remains of an ancient hospital, caves for accommodating monks, several stupas and ruins of stupas and an ancient courtyard and storeroom.

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