Sri lanka Heritage
From enormous dagobas (dome-shaped structures) and remains of ancient buildings in the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, to the awesome stairway to the temple at Dambulla and the sensual frescoes of heavenly maidens at the palace at the rock of Sigiriya, visitors can experience these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle. In the hill country lies the former royal capital of Kandy, home to the Dalada Maligawa or Sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. With its distinctive architecture, art and music, Kandy is a bastion of traditional culture.
Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is the most celebrated of Sri Lanka’s ancient ruined cities. This city is the repository of several priceless treasures of Buddhism and as a World Heritage site definetly a MUST to every visitor to Sri Lanka. One is the dagoba of Thuparama, an immense spire-topped dome that is believed to enshrine the collarbone of the Buddha, himself. The base of the temple is surrounded by a frieze of elephants in bas relief. Another remarkable treasure in Anuradhapura is the sacred Bo Tree said to have been grown from a branch of the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. As the story goes, a sapling of the ficus religioso that sheltered the Buddha was brought from the Magadha Kingdom of ancient India to Sri Lanka in a golden bowl 2,250 years ago and planted on this spot in Sri Lanka, bowl and all. It is said to be the oldest authenticated tree in the world. The ancient capital shines with treasures like the Ruwanweliseya Stupa, one of the largest structures of the ancient world; the Isurumuniya Rock Temple; the Royal Twin Baths; and two huge irrigation tanks; just to name a few. It is easy to spend days discovering the ancient history of Sri Lanka, exploring the picturesque countryside and to watch the many pilgrims paying homage to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, Anuradhapura’s most venerated possession.
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries and the repository of outstanding ruins, frescoes and enormous statues of reclining Buddhas. The ruins of the old city are on the shores of Lake Topawewa, man-made during the reign of a twelfth century king—a huge task, when one considers it was accomplished with nothing but manual labor. What remains of the ancient city itself is a cluster of palaces and temples contained within a rectangular city wall. The foundations of the royal palace and the king’s audience hall are particularly well preserved. An outstanding site in Polonnaruwa is the Galyhare, also known as the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge. It is an outdoor rock wall where giant standing and reclining sculptures of the Buddha were carved out of the living rock. The next sculpture stands twenty three feet high and expresses the serenity of the Buddha. The final, and most imposing, statue is of a reclining Buddha, which measures 46 feet in length. He is in the last moment of his life on earth, on the verge of entering nirvana.
Ancient City of Sigiriya
Sigiriya alone is worth a trip to Sri Lanka.Climb the amazing rock of Sigiriya with its impregnable palace fortress built in the fifth century and enjoy the magnificant views over the once magnificent royal pool, the throne, remains of the majestic palace, walk ways and garden. Sigiriya is a sixth century fortress perched on a 200 metre high rock and one the most dramatic of Sri Lanka’s historic sites. On the western and northern sides of the steep rock face runs a gallery or pathway which provides access to the seemingly inaccessible nearly three acre wide summit. Shielding this pathway is a 9½ft plaster wall so highly polished that even today after fifteen centuries of exposure to the sun and rain one can see one’s reflection in it!. To the North is the Pidurangala Rock, where a Buddhist monastery and cave temples are found and near the summit one of the largest reclining Buddha statues made out of brick and mortar. The to South East is what remains of Sigiri Maha Weva, and in the South the Mapagala Rock, which was a fortress long before Sigitiya was built.
Sacred City of Kandy
Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city and cultural capital is the gateway to the higher hills and tea plantations. The clarity of the air and its verdant, hilly outlook around the sacred lake make it a pleasant escape from the heat of the coasts. Kandy, is Sri Lanka’s second largest city and home of the Dalada Maligawa, one of Buddhism’s most sacred temple grounds containing the palace of Sri Lanka’s former king and the holy of holies, the repository of an actual tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. It is said that in all the world there are three of the Buddha’s teeth – one in India, one in Thailand and this one in Sri Lanka. All are Buddhism’s most sacred relics. The Dalada Maligawa houses the tooth in a carefully guarded shrine, behind a gilded altar and inside a series of nesting golden and bejeweled caskets. The caskets are brought out once a year for the crowds that gather at that time, but the tooth itself is never displayed.