HIGHLIGHTS AND MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF the cultural triangle

Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle contains five of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offers a fascinating insight into the rich historical and cultural heritage of the country, in locations within delightfully close proximity. Geographically the triangle is framed by the three corners of Anuradhapura in the northwest, Kandy in the south and Polonnaruwa to the east. Here you will find ancient Buddhist monuments and temples that date back as far as 2,200 years, mystical rock fortresses and royal palaces that are all aching to be explored.

The southern corner of the triangle, Kandy, is set along the Mahaweli River and is the second largest of Sri Lanka’s cities. Enviably laid-back, Kandy throngs with cultural activities and is a great place to soak up the local atmosphere. A key pilgrimage spot in Kandy and place of Buddhist worship is the Temple of the Tooth, is a serene place where you can join other followers queuing to catch a glimpse of the revered tooth inside an ornate casket. Visitors in July should try and coincide with the Kandy Perahera, a 10-day Buddhist festival and pageant of lively street processions and celebrations. 

Spend a few days here and enjoy the comfortable accommodations of the Kandy House; a beautifully restored ancestral home located on the hills to the east of town.

Where is the Cultural Triangle?

attraction history, information and details

Anuradhapura was once the ancient monastic capital of Ceylon from 5th -10th Century and a place of former glory and political ruling. Ancient monuments, ruins and dagobas house Buddhist relics, and rock carvings belie the holy relevance it still has today, particularly around the Sacred Bodhi Tree shrine. To the East, Polonnaruwa was the second ancient capital from 10th- 12th Century, and is incredulously well preserved. The complex includes Gal Vihara’s four Buddha’s impressively carved into one rock face, and one reclining Buddha, as well as The King’s Palace which includes carved elephants in its Audience Hall.

Many visitors will choose to visit the outstanding rock fortress of Sigiriya before or after Polonnaruwa and it is easy to see why on approach. This breathtaking and dramatic natural rock structure juts impossibly out of the surrounding plains and stands 200 metres high. It was King Kashyapa I who decided to build a fortified palace on the rock’s summit, which can be reached by a challenging but rewarding ascent that gives astonishing panoramic views.

The extraordinary cave temple of Dambulla is the largest cave monastery on the island and was originally used as a refuge for King Valagambahu in 1st century. Consisting of a complex of Buddhist image houses, a colourful frescoed rock ceiling dating as far back as 2,000 years and Buddha statues deftly carved from rock, it is another world heritage site of immense importance.

The cultural triangle is an excellent addition to any Sri Lanka wildlife safari.

Our favourite place to stay when visiting the above attractions has to be the lovely Ulagalla. Sumptuous private chalets with plunge pools and private terraces make for an ideal start to your Sri Lankan holiday.

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