The Cultural Triangle is quite simply the heart of the ancient Sri Lankan civilisation.
The most significant sites include the ruins of Pollonaruwa and Anuradhapura, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the Dambulla Cave Temple, the lesser-known site of Mihintale and the 13m standing Buddha of Aukana and these offer an incredibly rich array of Buddhist art & architecture.
Why visit The Cultural Triangle?
- Climb up Sigiriya Rock to the Rock Fortress and enjoy the stunning views
- Explore the fascinating ancient cities on foot or by bike
- Admire the statues, murals and the reclining Buddah at Dambulla Cave Temple
- Discover the lesser known sites such as Mihintale
- Witness the elephants gathering in Minneriya National Park
- Scramble up Pidurangala Rock and enjoy the view of Sigiriya
The Lion Rock Fortress of Sigiriya is a World Heritage Site and one of the most extraordinary and dramatic of all the world’s great fortresses. It rises 600 feet from the jungle floor and a subtle blend of fortress and palace was constructed here with some wonderful features that can still be enjoyed such as the ‘Heavenly Maiden’ frescoes, water gardens, moat & ramparts.
Another World Heritage Site and the second capital of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa dates back to the 11th & 12th Centuries. In its heyday, the city was fortified with three concentric walls, which housed beautiful parks, gardens and a Royal Palace. Having been built slightly more recently than Anuradhapura, the ruins at Polonnaruwa have survived in much better condition and the king’s Audience Hall, Lotus Baths, temples and carvings are quite remarkable to see.
Anuradhapura was the island’s first capital and dates back to the 3rd Century BC. It was from here that the Sinhalese Kings ruled for over 1000 years. Despite occasional invasions from India, the city thrived and expanded to produce a vast, sprawling and complex city comprising of temples, palaces, tanks (reservoirs) and formal gardens and parklands.
The remarkable cave temple of Dambulla is another World Heritage Site and an archaeological treasure. It dates back to King Valagam Bahu who initially sought refuge in the caves in the 1st Century BC, but on regaining his throne he dedicated the caves to the monks and converted them into this extraordinary rock temple. Spread over a series of five caves are more than 150 murals of the Buddha as well as a carving of the reclining Buddha made out of the rock and over 2000 sq. metres of paintings on the walls and ceilings making this a truly remarkable spectacle.