From the 4th century BC until 993 AD (when the island was conquered by invaders from India), Sri Lanka was ruled from a succession of visually imposing royal capitals at the centre of the island. Consisting of spectacular fortified palaces, huge dagobas, giant, serene-faced Buddhas and massive water tanks built to irrigate the surrounding fields, the ruins of these great urban centres are mostly scattered across a semi-arid plain dotted by dramatic outcrops of brown granite.
Collectively, these archeological treasures comprise one of the great storehouses of ancient monuments in the world, and should be considered ‘un-missable’, even if you’ve no more than a passing interest in Asian history. The sight of Sigiriya’s awesome rock, capped by its magical palace, is worth the journey alone.
To do the sites justice, we recommend basing yourself for a couple of nights in the region, which will enable you to visit the monuments first thing in the morning, before the bus parties from the coast arrive, and later in the afternoon, after they have all left and the heat is more tolerable.
Weather in the Cultural Triangle
This is the hottest, driest part of Sri Lanka. Most of its rain falls in dramatic deluges between November and January. Lighter showers occur in May and June.
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Highlights: the Cultural Triangle
Places to Visit
Anuradhapura, the vast Sinhalese capital that endured for nearly a millennium from around 377 BC, remains a sacred city simply because it was Buddhism’s initial home on the island. The famous Tooth Relic, a canine of the Buddha retrieved f...
Vaguely similar in feel and, like Sigiriya, a World Heritage Site, the temple complex at Dambulla has drawn Buddhist pilgrims since the 3rd century BC. Such astonishing longevity is testimony to the site’s pedigree: it’s Sri Lanka’s larges...
Minneriya National Park
For visitors exploring the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, nearby Minneriya National Park makes an excellent change of pace and scenery. At its heart stands the large Minneriya Tank, a huge 3rd century reservoir (for this re...
Standing alongside the shimmering expanse of a vast artificial lake, Polonnaruwa is the most compelling of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals. From the 11th to 13th centuries, a succession of ambitious kings developed an immense city here. Enclo...
Suggested Itineraries: Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka By Region
Talk to the Experts
At TransIndus we are committed to quality and determined to ensure every one of our clients enjoys the best holiday possible. Having lived or worked, and travelled extensively in their specialist countries, our consultants are experts whose advice can be depended on. To make an enquiry, call us on 0208 566 3739
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