7 Best Heritage Sites & Historical Places in Sri Lanka (2024)

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 16 km from Dambulla, 62 km from Polonnaruwa, 75 km from Anuradhapura, 90 km from Kandy, 100 km from Trincomalee, 176 km from Colombo and 181 km from Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya is an ancient city in the northern Matale district of Central Province in Sri Lanka. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka as part of Sri Lanka Tour Packages.

Sigiriya sits right in the middle of Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle made up of Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa. Also known as the Lion's Rock or Lion Mountain, Sigiriya is a popular stop for tourists who are interested in archeological ruins as it is home to the ruins of the world recognized ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress situated on top of a massive 200-meter high rock surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. The rock itself is a lava plug left over from an ancient long extinct volcano.

Excavations at Sigiriya indicate that the area was occupied during the prehistoric times. There is clear evidence that the many rock shelters and caves in the vicinity were occupied by Buddhist monks and ascetics from as early as the 3rd century BCE. In 477 CE, King Kashyapa of Anuradhapura moved the capital from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya. During Kashyapa's reign (477 to 495 CE), Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress. After his death, the site fell into decline and was again used as a Buddhist monastery ...

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 66 km from Dambulla, 75 km from Sigiriya, 106 km from Trincomalee, 107 km from Polonnaruwa, 139 km from Kandy, 194 km from Jaffna and 202 km from Colombo, Anuradhapura is an ancient city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province and also the capital of Anuradhapura district. It is the most popular heritage place in Sri Lanka and among the must include destinations in Sri Lanka Tour Packages.

Located on the banks of Malvathu River, Anuradhapura is the first ancient capital of Sri Lanka. The city was the center of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. Famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization, Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. The city is also home to one of the largest and most sacred Bodhi trees in Sri Lanka, believed to be a descendant of the original Bodhi tree where Buddha got enlightenment.

Anuradhapura was first established by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya, the founder of the Sinhala race. Later in 377 BC, King Pandukabhaya made it his capital and developed it into a prosperous city. It was the royal capital for 119 successive Singhalese Kings and lasted for about 1500 years. Anuradhapura came into prominence after Buddhism was introduced to the island in the 3rd Century BC during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Anuradhapura ...

City | Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 42 km from Matara, 55 km from Bentota, 126 km from Colombo, 190 km from Yala, 222 km from Kandy, 251 km from Nuwara Eliya, 304 km from Anuradhapura, and 365 km from Trincomalee, Galle is an ancient port city located on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions to visit in the region as part of Sri Lanka Tour Packages and among the must include places to visit in honeymoon trip.

Synonymous with the country's fascinating history and rich culture, no Sri Lanka Tour is complete without visiting Galle as this historic city is blessed with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient mosques, and churches, grand mansions, and museums. Galle was known as Gimhathitha in ancient times and is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese term meaning 'port near the river Gin'. Another theory is that the word Galle is derived from the Dutch word 'Gallus', which means rooster, as the Dutch have used the rooster as a symbol of Galle.

As per the historical records, Galle was an important trading center for the Arabs, Chinese and Malays, long before the Europeans occupied it. The colonial period began with the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, who was on the way to the Maldives. They remained here and built a fort called Santa Cruz. Later, the Dutch invaded Galle and began the reconstruction of ...

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 3 km from Dambulla Bus Station, 17 km from Sigiriya and 73 km from Kandy, Dambulla Cave Temples is an ancient cave temple complex situated at Dambulla in Sri Lanka. It is one of the popular places of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka and among the must-visit places for heritage lovers as part of Sri Lanka Packages.

Sitting on top of a 160-meter high rock, the Dambulla Cave Temple, also called as Golden Temple of Dambulla, has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries and is one of the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites that the tiny island possesses. It is the best-preserved and most extensive cave temple complex of the country comprising of five main caves, each possessing numerous statues of Lord Buddha, some figures of kings and statues of Lord Vishnu along with Rock Paintings of vivid colours and shapes from around 2nd Century BC (Anuradhapura era) and continued up to the Kandyan era of the 18th Century. Dambulla is also a part of the 'Cultural Triangle' of Sri Lanka along with the town of Sigiriya and the city of Kandy.

The caves of Dambulla were occupied in very early times by Buddhist hermits. The Dambulla Rock Temple had first been constructed during the reign of King Vattagamini Abaya. During a South Indian invasion, the king sought refuge here for 15 years. After regaining the kingdom of Anuradhapura, to show his gratefulness for his safe place, he converted those caves into Buddhist Temples by constructing walled partitions under the rock overhang ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 21 km from Habarana, 32 km from Sigiriya and 56 km from Anuradhapura, Ritigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery and mountain situated in Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve of Sri Lanka. It is one of the popular heritage places to visit in Anuradha as part of the Sri Lanka Tour.

At a height of 766 m above sea level, Ritigala is the highest mountain in the north-central dry plains of Sri Lanka. The mountain mass about three miles long and about two miles wide at its widest point is covered with dense jungle inhabited by wild elephants, leopards, and bears. It is the watershed of the Malwatu Oya which feeds the Nachaduwa tank and Kalueba Ela which feeds Huruluwewa. The Ritigala Mountain has been declared a Strict Natural Reserve in order to maintain its pristine environment.

Ritigala is home to 70 rock caves that were believed to had been inhabited since the first century BC. Mahavamsa, the great historical chronicle of Sri Lanka narrates that Ritigala was known by the name of 'aritta-pabbata' during the reign of Pandukabhaya (377-307 BC). With the exception of a few broken granite Buddha statues in a number of caves, Ritigala has none of the traditional icons of Buddhist temples- no bo tree, no stupas. The first Lanka Vihare was founded near Ritigala at the foot of the mountain in the second century BC. The Aritta Vihare was founded a century afterward. In the ninth century AD, King Sena made an endowment of the monastery, a larger complex higher up the ...

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 44 km from Trincomalee, Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple situated at Seruwawila in the Trincomalee district of Sri Lanka. It is counted amongst the holiest Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka and one of the top places to visit near Trincomalee.

Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara was built during the reign of King Kavantissa (2nd century BC). It is believed that three viharas existed at this particular spot that was built during the periods of three former Buddhas named Kakusandha, Koṇagamana, and Kassapa with their relics enshrined. Gautama Buddha had personally visited this place and offered eight handfuls of 'sapu' flowers, then wished that the temple which constructing in the future should be named as Mangala viharaya. The stupa containing the Lalata Dathun Wahanse (sacred forehead bone) of Lord Buddha and is among the sixteen holiest Buddhist shrines (Solosmasthana) in Sri Lanka.

Over the years, the stupa fell into ruins under the pressure of the Tamil invasions from the north. But there is evidence in the literature that this area was under the purview of the Kandyan territory during the 17th century and the existence of this stupa. It was only in 1922 that the dagoba was re-discovered by Dambagasare Sumedhankara Thero and he restored the stupa with the approval and supervision of the Department of Archaeology using remains of ancient structures around the stupa to conjecture the conservation work. The conservation ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 37 km from Ella, 68 km from Tissamaharama, 74 km from Kataragama and 88 km from Yala, Buduruwagala is an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Known for its magnificent rock carvings, it is one of Yala's best attractions.

The complex consists of seven statues and belongs to the Mahayana school of thought. The stunning rock-cut Buddha figures are nearly a 1000-year old. Buduruwagala means 'the rock of Buddhist Sculptures' and is derived from the words for Buddha (Budu), images (ruva) and stone (gala). Authorities generally date them to the 9th or 10th century but Buduruwagala does not have many historical records. It is thought to be a hermitage for monks. The sculptures of Buduruwagala also include many sculptures of Bodhisattva images including Mahayana tradition.

The enormous Buddha stands at 15m, becoming the highest on the island. One can still trace its unusual adhesive robe, along with an elongated splash of orange color, indicating it was once painted with vibrant colors. The adjoining is filled by smaller carved statures. The center of the three figures to the Buddha's right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.

Timings: 8 AM - 5 PM

Entry: Free

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