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Heritage in Sri Lanka

With a history expanding over 3000years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla; their once glorious townships, palaces, temples, monasteries, hospitals and theaters intricately carved and modeled out of stone lay and abandoned and forgotten with time amidst the soaring jungles.
Of all the ancient cities of Lanka, the most famed and most exquisite is the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s third and the longest serving capital and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is also one of the most sacred cities of World Buddhists. It was the capital of Sri Lanka from the Fourth Century BC up to the turn of the eleventh Century and was one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia.
Sigiriya, a fifth century AD fortress and a water garden displays some of the most futuristic elements of landscaping and some of the oldest murals recorded in the country.
Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient kingdom of the country boasts of Irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the and they still provide irrigation water to the farmers in and around Polonnaruwa.Digamadulla, the Eastern kingdom of Sri Lanka was the agricultural and spiritual capital of the country during the Anuradhapura kingdom.
Sri Lanka’s last kingdom the Kingdome of Kandy is a testament to the Sri Lankan’s ability to pick up and rise from ashes. After being burned and ravaged more than thrice by the invading Portuguese the Kandyan Kingdom still holds beautifully carved and built houses, palaces and temple preserved for nearly 500 years.



The island was divided in to numerous kingdoms over the centuries. Of all the kingdoms Anuradhapura is the most famed and the most exquisite kingdoms. Being the third and the longest serving kingdom, it is also the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. This is also a most sacred cities of world Buddhists. This sprawling complex contains a rich collection of archaeology and architectural wonders. Enormous dagobas, soaring brick towers, crumbling temples and antient drinking – water reservoirs were built thousands of years ago, the ancient kingdom features eight major palaces, many monasteries and monuments including the world-famous Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanwelisaya and Thuparamaya.



Being second only to the ancient city of Anuradapura in ancient cultural heritage, Polonnaruwa was a great city in Sri Lanka which came in to prominence during its brief period of second centuries of Sri Lankan history. Today Polonnaruwa showcase of its great ancient Sri Lankan architecture, which was interwoven with many Buddhist monasteries and monuments which were built by King Parakramabhahu 1. Also, this era had been the most prosperous time for the entire island nation.
The palace buildings and the cluster of dozen dagobas, temples and various other religious buildings were built within a rectangle of city walls. The art and sculpture is well displayed at Gal Viharaya, Lakathilaka image house and many other sites scattered though the ancient city. the irrigation system constructed in this era still provides water to the farmers in and around farmers in Polonnaruwa. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best panned archaeological relic side in the country.



Built by an obsessed monarch in the fifth century, Sigiriya of lion rock is an astonishing feature engineering and construction. Designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982, Sigiriya is Asia’s best preserved city of the first millennium and also it is considered to be the oldest tourist attraction in the world. Sigiriya reveals its secret by a climb of series of stairs attached to a sheer wall to reach the top. Which is guarded by a pair of giant stone loin paws. This site also has man made geometrical and natural forms of surroundings. The park contains water retaining structure, including sophisticated surface / subsurface hydraulic system which some of are working still working. The Apsara paintings, boulder garden, terrace garden, mirror wall is some of the highlights of this magical place.



Dambulla is one of the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka which were occupied in very early times by Buddhist monks. The temple is 52 meters from one side to another, and 23 meters from the entrance to the back, with a sloping ceiling seven meters at its highest points. The surface of the entire cave is filled with many paintings with different themes and styles. These paintings represent many different epochs of Sinhalese Buddhist art, Using brilliant colour schemes with red and yellow predominating. Along with the paintings, there are a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddess.



Located in the central province was the last capital of the ancient kings’ era In Sri Lanka. The City lies in the midst of hills, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy Is the home of the temple of tooth relic, one of the most sacred places of worship in Buddhists world. Being rich in cultural diversity Kandy offers many attractions to justify a visit at any time of the year. Kandy perahera one of the one of the oldest and the grandest of all Buddhists festivals, which last for ten days. Musician, dancers, acrobats and various other performers are accompanied by many caparisoned tuskers and other elephants parading the street in celebration of a religious event. Temple of tooth, Gregory lake, tea plantations, botanical gardens are some of the attractions.



Located in Kurunegala, belonging to the North-Western Province of Sri Lanka, the Yapahuwa ancient fortress rises to a height of 90 m above the surrounding plains. Built by King Buwanekabahu the First, as the capital of Sri Lanka in 1301, It is believed that King Bhuvanekabahu I used the rock fortress as his capital and kept Sri Lanka’s sacred Buddha tooth relic here, today, the Royal residence, the Temple of Tooth Relic, the battle defences are in ruins.
Yapahuwa’s steep ornamental staircase, which led up to the ledge holding the tooth temple, is one of its finest features. Finally, at the top of the stairway, the pilgrim will reach the impressive and harmoniously conceived doorway that once led into the Temple of the Tooth.



The Gadaladeniya temple located at Pilimathalawa, in a small hilltop. Built in 1344 by King Buwanekabahu IV, per historical evidence the chief architect of this Viharaya was Ganesvarachari from south Indian. Therefore, this temple is essentially a South Indian design.
The main shrine which has a distinctive south Indian design stands on a rocky outcrop at the top end of the monastery premises. Inside one comes across a fine statue of the seated Buddha framed by a Makara Torana or Dragon Arch. This is surrounded by numerous images of deities such as Brahma, Suyama, Santhusthika, Maithri and Natha. Standing statues of the Buddha can be found on either side of the seated Buddha statue.
Though this temple is known as “Gadaladeniya” today, an inscription identifies this temple as “Dharma Kirthi Viharaya” which is the name of the founding monk. The work “Nikaya Sangrahaya” identifies this temple as “Saddharmathilake” and “Saddharmalankaraya” identifies this as “Gadaladeniya Viharaya” after the village which it is located.

Lankathilaka Viharaya


Lankathilaka Viharaya is an ancient Buddhists temple Situated in Udunuwara of Kandy. According to the history Lankathika Viharaya dates back to Gampola era and was constructed by the patronage of king Buwanekabahu IV in 1344 A.D. This was constructed as a four-story building that stood eighty feet high and sits on an uneven rock bed overlooking the Hantane mountain range.
Having been built entirely on a top of an uneven rock surface and rising for eighty feet is the most unique feature of this temple. Based on inscriptions to be found on the Temple’s copper plaque, one learns that the foundation of granite was laid on the rock surface and the rest of the structure was made of bricks. Beautiful arches and sculptures enhance the thick outer walls, making this an architectural marvel of that era. There are many inscriptions in both Sinhala and Tamil languages cut into the solid rock which describe the facilities provided to the Temple and the land gifted by Kings who ruled then. There are many inscriptions in both Sinhala and Tamil languages cut into the solid rock which describe the facilities provided to the Temple and the land gifted by Kings who ruled then.

Embakke Temple


Situated in Medapalata Korale of Udunuwara in Kandy district, Embakke temple was built by the Vikramabahu III in Gampola era. The devalaya is dedicated to the worship of Mahasen, popularly known as Katharagama Deviyo. The shrine consists of three sections, the "Sanctum of Garagha", the "Digge" or "Dancing Hall" and the "Hevisi Mandapaya" or the "Drummers' Hall". The Drummers' Hall that has drawn the attention of visitors to the site, due to the splendid wood carvings of its ornate pillars and its high-pitched roof. The carved wooden pillars in the temple are believed to have come from a royal viewer's hall in the city. They are said to be the finest such carvings belonging to the Kandyan era, and have earned the temple much acclaim from artists.
The carvings consist of lions, swans, bulls, elephants, double-headed eagles, leaf patterns, Animals fighting, Wrestlers, soldiers, Man on horseback, Female figure., Woman growing from a vine, mermaids and lotus motifs. There are altogether 128 carvings in these pillars and what is unique about them is that all these carvings are different from each other. Some believe these carvings to have been completed by an artisan known as Devendra Mulachari.