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  • Cultural Triangel

Cultural Triangle

Stretching from green hills of Kandy to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura in the north and Polonnaruwa in the east, the Cultural Triangle - traditionally referred to as Rajarata, or “The King’s Land” - was the heart of Sinhalese civilisation whose grandiose monuments have encapsulated the golden age of ancient kingdoms and Buddhist art.

Cultural TriangelMany of the temples, sculptures, monasteries and stupas lying within the Cultural Triangle date back to over 2000 years. The spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s single most extraordinary sight, whereas the ancient city of Anuradhapura, one of medieval Asia’s great metropolises, is dotted with a large number of elaborate palaces, enormous tanks and monumental dagobas. Further south, Polonnaruwa, the island’s second capital, boasts impressive archaeological relics and monuments.

Other notable attractions include the impressive cave temples of Dambulla, and the sacred mountain of Mihintale, scene of the introduction of Buddhism to the island.

 

Anuradhapura

Founded in the 377 BC, Anuradhapura is renowned as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Today, with large number of ancient monuments and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is one of the best places to discover the great Sinhala civilization that  flourished in this region. This truly archeological city was the first established kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka, and several kings left a legacy of architectural and engineering marvels.

In Anuradhapura, you can see some of the most famous as well as the tallest Dagoba in Sri Lanka known as “Ruwanweli Maha saya”. The remains of historical palaces, temples, monasteries, ceremonial baths and the temple of the holy Bo-tree (Sri Maha Bodhi) in also in this historically significant city. The Sri Maha Bodhi Bo tree was grown from a branch of the tree under which "The Buddha" attained enlightenment while he was meditating, more than 2500 year ago.

Dambulla

Dambulla is known for its Cave Temple, the impressive mural paintings and 157 statues, including a 47 foot long statue of the recumbent Buddha. Recognised as a sacred pilgrimage site, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cave monastery is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The history of the 5 caves, containing over 150 images of Buddha, goes back to 1st century BC when the King Valagambahu took refuge here. This place is worth visiting not only for the cave temple, but also for the beautiful view over the countryside from the caves situated at around 150 meters above the road.

Polonnaruwa

The UNESCO World Heritage City of Polonnaruwa, with its ruins in a resplendent state of preservation, was the Capital of Sri Lanka from 11th to 13th century. The ancient city defended by enclosing walls, is dotted with palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds and irrigation lakes.

The city itself is divided into new and old town that has five main areas, including 'The Quadrangle', the Northern City Area and the Rest House Area with the ruins of the royal palace 'Nissanka Malla'. The Gal Vihara temple complex, cut from a single granite wall, consists of statues of the recumbent, standing and seated Buddha and ranks among the masterpieces of Sri Lankan Art.

The area can be easily explored on foot, or you can jump on a bicycle to get around the well-preserved ruins and on the well-maintained roads of the surrounding area.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, built by the young King Kasyapa in 5th century, was a royal citadel. Combining baffling architectural features and sensual artistic values, the Lion Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as nominated to be the eighth wonder of the world — along with the Grand Canyon and Ancient Pyramids.

The king’s fortress complex was build on the flat top of the rock formation, extending to almost an acre, and the extensive ruins are still visible.  The central fortress takes the form of a lion figure with gigantic paws. In English, it translates to 'Lion Rock', alluding to the time when travelers could climb through the open throat, “giriya", of a lion, “sinha”. Today, the only remains are the lion’s gigantic paws, sculpted into the side of a 600-foot-tall rock rising above lush, green jungle.


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