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Sri Lanka Holidays

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Must Visit Locations

Cultural Triangle

Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka encompasses World Heritages sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla & Kandy.

The Concept of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

The multitude of Sri Lanka's cultural attractions are spread all around the island, west to east, south to north. However the major concentration of cultural attractions of Sri Lanka is within a zone called Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle in the north central plains. Now, we must hasten to stress that Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle is not simply a tourism oriented concept introduced solely for the Sri Lanka Holidays tourists to focus on the major tourist destinations. Moreover Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle isn't merely an attempt to mark the locations of a cluster of cultural attractions in relation to one another with a tourism perspective of economy in terms of time and motion either. The origin of the concept of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle lies in the UNESCO sponsored project launched to preserve the major cultural, historical, archeological and Buddhist sites of Sri Lanka located within the North Central region called Wewe Bandi Rata (Sinhala: the land of man-made irrigation reservoirs) and also called Raja rata (Sinhala: the king's domain) during the ancient times.

The geographical locations of the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Attractions of the Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

By sheer coincidence, the locations of Sri Lanka's prime cultural attractions can be contained within an imaginary triangle (approximately each side is of 80 km) connecting the three cities of Anuradhapura (5th century BC-9th century AD) (N8 20 00 E80 23 00) to the north; Polonnaruwa (10th-12th century) (N7 54 57 E81 00 02) to the east; and Kandy (13th century-18th century) (N7 17 37 E80 38 25)  to the south, all of which are incidentally UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Then again, as if those three Glorious cities wouldn't do, the cultural attractions of Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel (N7 57 00 E80 45 00) and Golden Dambulla Rock Cave Temple (N7 51 24 E80 38 57), more or less in the very center of the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle, are by no means, mere tourist attractions: those two are UNESCO World Heritage Sites too.

Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle in a Touristic Standpoint

Over and above mentioned world-renowned Aryan Sinhalese Buddhist Cultural attractions, Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle is home to a score of still more sites, albeit sans the much sought after label of UNESCO, with immense cultural significance: ruins at Ritigala Buddhist monastery, ruins and restored monuments  at Mihintale Buddhist monastery, Tantrimale monastery, Aluvihare Rock Cave Temple at Matale, Temple at Vijitapura, colossal rock carved Buddha statue at Avukana located 19km west of at vast man-made ancient Kalaweva irrigation reservoir are some of them.

Once the contribution made to the humanity by these stupendous world heritage sites coupled with the touristic value in terms of discoveries, revelations and enlightenment is weighed against the travelling time spent and the cost of holidays, Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle takes back seat to none in the world. Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is the major factor that makes Sri Lanka a High Definition, High Value Tourist Destination. Sri Lanka Holidays is the Total Holiday Experience.

Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle is best be heard in the voice of UNESCO itself:-

Twenty-two centuries have gone by since the teachings of the Buddha took root in Sri Lanka and became an everlasting source of spiritual and aesthetic inspiration for its people. As these teaching gave a new cast to philosophical and religious thought and stimulated the talents of painters and sculptures, architects and craftsmen, they opened up new pathways to thinking and art and fostered the birth of original forms of expression that are still very much alive today.
Anuradhapura, the holy city that was the first capital of Sinhalese Buddhism, unfolds its pleasure gardens, with its immense artificial lakes laid out around its monasteries and imposing stupas.

Polonnaruwa, which followed it, was designed like a fairy-tale city, fortified with three concentric walls in which splendid sanctuaries, dominated by the incomparable Gal Vihara, a colossal statue of the Buddha in nirvana, rise up amid parks watered by a system of reservoirs built by the great King Parakrama Bahu, whose motto was "Not a  single drop of rain falling on this island must be lost in the ocean without serving mankind".

Kandy, the last of the historic capitals, contains the temple which is the focal point of the religious life of the island, in which the Tooth of the Buddha is preserved. Nestled deep in the hollow of a wooded valley on the edges of a lake of crystal limpidity, the city presents side by side, in one of the most sumptuous settings in the world, the symbols of the Buddhist religion and the national culture.

Thus the Triangle forms the main centre from which the influence of Theravada Buddhism and the Sinhalese genius together spread outwards. At various periods, it attracted thinkers, creative artists and scholars from all over the world, and especially from the rest of Asia, who came to give added depth to their faith or broaden their knowledge, meditate in its monasteries, learn from its philosophers or work with its artists.

All the buildings, structure and objects still to be found there-whether they be the majestic dagobas of Thuparama, Ruvanvelisaya, Abhayagiri and Jetavana or the splendid frescoes of Sigiriya, the  Alahana Pirivena Buddhist University at Polonnaruwa or the Temple Square in Kandy-bear witness to the exceptional spiritual, cultural and technical developments which the Triangle has lived thrugh down the ages.....

The Cultural Triangle has to be preserved.
It must be preserved for the sake of Sri Lanka, since it forms part of the country's historical core and gives supreme expression to its religious values, national identity and artistic creativity.
It must be preserved for the sake of Asia as a whole, for it is a centre of Buddhist tradition that has deeply impregnated the culture of the entire region and has heightened the sense of Asian solidarity.
It must be preserved for the sake of the world at large, since it forms an integral part of its indivisible heritage.
The scene perfection which it has attained by harnessing the outstanding resources of art to the expression of a faith and by linking the world of culture to the acts of living epitomizes some of the fundamental aspirations that are shared by people everywhere, irrespective of their difference of race, language or religion.
Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, Director General of UNESCO: The Appeal by the Director-General for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka

The ideal period to visit Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

The ideal period falls between October and February when the atmospheric temperature and the humidity of the zone that encompass Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle are at its lowest.

Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project supported by UNESCO

The Cultural Triangle programme, which started in 1978, is a national umbrella project, which serves as the main legal and practical conservation framework for these sites. It ensures the positive co-ordination of international funding appeals and educational programmes, and is the focus of the legal frameworks protecting these sites. Furthermore, it works in close co-operation with UNESCO, the World Heritage Centre and an International Working group composed of specialists who offer their expertise for the efficient protection and restoration of these sites.

Sri Lanka Holidays attractions within the Cultural Triangle

Culture: Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, Sigiriya (Sinhala: Lion Rock) Citadal, Ritigala Monastery, Yapahuwa Rock Citadel, Aluvihare Rock Temple at Aluvihare, Matale
Wildlife: Minneriya National Park, Wasgomuwa Naional Park, Kaudulla National Park, Hurulu Eco Park at Habarana
Nature: Habarana, Giritale, Kandalama, Ritigala Hill

Museums located within the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle

The archeological museum at Anuradhapura; one of the oldest museum in the Cultural Triangle
The new museum at Abhayagiri monastery at Anuradhapura
The treasure room of Jatavana monastery at Anuradhapura
The new visitor center and museum at Polonnaruwa
The new museum at Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel

Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle's largest rehabilitated ancient rogation reservoirs

The region called Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle today has been home to innumerable man-made irrigation reservoirs since the glorious era of Anuradhapura. Today, these reservoirs extend the lifeline to the cultivators and citizens of these districts testifying to enormous achievements in hydrology and irrigation of ancient Sri Lanka. While the modern districts of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are dotted with major irrigation reservoirs and minor irrigation reservoirs, the cities itself have major reservoirs that could be easily visited by the Sri Lanka Holidays tourists during their tour of the Cultural Triangle.
At the city of Anuradhapura: Nuwara Wewa irrigation reservoir- Anuradhapura,
At the city of Polonnaruwa: Parakrama Samudra (Sinhala: Sea of Parakrama) irrigation reservoir
At Minneriya (Polonnaruwa district) : Minneriya wewa reservoir, Kaudulla wewa irrigation reservoir,
At Giritale (Polonnaruwa district ) Giritale wewa irrigation reservoir
Furthermore, Kala wewa irrigation reservoir at the city of Kalawewa, Kandalama Wewa ancient irrigation reservoir at a distance of 10km from Sri Lanka Holidays Rangiri Dambulu Rock Cave Temple ( a UNESCO World Heritage Site) too could be visited during Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle tour.
The distance from eco-oriented 5 star Heritance Kandalama Hotel at Dambulla (Matale district, immediately south of Anuradhapura district) to Dambulla International Cricket stadium via Golden Dambulla Rock Cave temple is 14km.

Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle Distances & Timings

The geographical locations of the prime cultural sites of Anuradahpura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy are such, each side of the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle is roughly 80 miles in length. However, since those are the direct distance from point to point, as the crow flies, of course distances by the road (driving distances) are at a considerable variance. All these Sri Lanka Holidays cultural attractions being conjoined by motorable roads, a round trip circuit of four days can be made following your arrival in Colombo.



Distance in km

Travel time in hours

Minimum duration at the attraction

Main Attractions





1 hour

Kelaniya Royal Temple





1 hour

Golden Dambulla Rock Cave Temple





4 hours

Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel





5 hours or 1 day

Ruwanweliseya Stupa , Jetavana stupa, Abhayagiri stupa





5 hours or 1 day

Ruins and Sea of Parakrama ancient irrigation reservoir





1 hour

Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple





1 day

Holy Temple of Tooth Relic





1/2 day

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens





½ day

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage







Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage at the village of Pinnawela and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens at the city Peradeniya are regularly visited by Sri Lanka Holidays tourists while travelling to Kandy. Travelling from Colombo, in the direction of west to east, along A1 main road, Kandy, the gateway to the Central Highlands, is reached via Kegalla (39km west of Kandy) and Peradeniya (8km west of Kandy). While Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is located on the Colombo-Kandy A1 Main road, Pinnawela is located 13km off the city of Kegalle.

Approximate drive times from Colombo to the individual attractions directly

Colombo to Kandy:115km: drive time: 3 hours
Colombo to Dambulla: drive time; 3.5 hours
Colombo to Sigiriya: drive time: 4.5 hours  
Colombo to Anuradhapura: 4.5 hours
Colombo to Habarana: (4-5 hours)
Colombo to Polonnaruwa: 5.5 hours
Approximate drive times within the Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle
Dambulla to Polonnaruwa (2 hrs)
Habarana to Dambulla (1 hour)
Kandy to Dambulla (2 hrs).

Climate of the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle

With the exception of Kandy, all other attractions of the Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle lies in the North Central Plains Dry Zone. Having called the North Central Province a dry zone, we must make haste to say, it isn't a region where the annual rainfall is minimal. In fact, the region is the beneficiary of northeast monsoon that blows and showers during the period of December to February collecting an annual rainfall of 1000mm-1250mm in its thousands of irrigation reservoirs.

Kandy, the geographic gateway to the Central Highlands, is in the wet zone. The western slopes of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka receive over 5000mm of annual rainfall thanks to South Western Monsoon rain during April to September.

However the north Central Plains are prevented from collecting rainwater from South Western Monsoon: it sheds most moisture after hitting and climbing up the mountain mass of the Central Highlands, which rises in the way between the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka and the North Central Plains.

The significant seasonality of rainfall resulting in shortage of water being in considerable scale, the Aryan Sinhalese civilization that was flourishing beginning with 3rd century BC made inroads to develop a network of irrigation reservoirs in the North Central plains dry zone of Sri Lanka.  The ancient Sinhalese found flat land of dry zone more suited to the rice paddy cultivation than wet zone where the rainfall is heavy. The early settlements emerged on the banks of rivers in the dry zone.

North central: Upatissagama (Mahavilchchiya Divisional Secretariat division of Anuradhapura district), on the Kandara oya river;
Uruvela, near the mouth of River Kala oya; Vijitanagara, close to the River Mahavali Ganga
North western: Tambapanni (Mannar Divisional Secretariat division of Mannar district), on the southern bank of River Malvatu Oya
North eastern: Somapura on the bank of River Mahaweli Ganga
South eastern: Dighayu or Digahavapi, on the River Gal Oya; Mahagama by the River Kirindi Oya
The subsequent result was hundreds of major irrigation reservoirs and thousands of village reservoirs set up in cascade systems called Elangawa in Sinhala. Hydrologically interconnected irrigation reservoirs that hang one below the other in a common waterway is known as the "Cascade".

Sri Lanka rainfall map is reproduced herein by kind courtesy of Meteorological Department of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
Sri Lanka Rainfall Map Sri Lanka Rainfall Map

Anuardhapura, the northernmost attraction of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

Anuradhapura in the ancient times

Anuradhapura (437 BC-845 AD) was the first capital of Sri Lanka. During its zenith, Anuradhapura was the greatest monastic city of the ancient world.

Anuradhapura, the lost and found capital city

The great wealth and glory of Anuradhapura attracted the marauding Dravidian armies of Chola dynasty, Chera dynasty and Pandian dynasty from Southern India. The glorious Anuradhapura and its surrounding provinces had been regained by, the Sinhalese Kings following each invasion, i.e. Sinhalese King Dutugamunu (reign and pour:161-137 BC) by defeating the Chola invader Elara (plunder & pillage: 205-161 BC);  Sinhalese King Valagamabahu or Vattagamini Abhaya (reign & pour:103, and 89-76 BC) by defeating the Dravidian invader called Datiya, the last of the 5 invaders (plunder & pillage:103-89); Sinhalese King Dhatusena (reign & pour: 461-479 AD) by defeating the invader Pitiya, the last of the 6 invaders (plunder & pillage: 434-461 AD). However in the tenth century, Anuradhapura, the splendorous capital that had repulsed Cholas, Cheras and Pandays in each and every turn and had flourished for 1300 years was abandoned for Polonnaruwa.

Hidden away in dense jungle for long centuries, the splendid site, with ruins of its palaces, monasteries and monuments, it was rediscovered in the British colonial era (1805-1948) in Sri Lanka, then called British Ceylon.

The Orientation of Anuradhapura

The orientation of the ancient city of Anuradhapura is specially striking. The city was established on the bank of River Malwatu Oya. Of the numerous irrigation reservoirs built by the ancient Sinhalese kings, three great reservoirs are located in the close proximity to the city. The rehabilitation of three great man-made lakes, Nuwara Wewa reservoir to the east of River Malwatu Oya & Tissa Wewa reservoir and Basawakkulama Wewa reservoir to the west of River Malwatu Oya was launched by the P. W. D. (Public Works Department) in the 19th century. On 15th May 1900, The Department of irrigation of Ceylon took over rehabilitation of city irrigation reservoirs from P.W.D.

Anuradhapura Today

Today, the vast rehabilitated ancient irrigation reservoirs (i.e.  Nuwara Wewa reservoir, Tissa Wewa reservoir and Basawakkulama Wewa reservoir located in the city together with Mahakandarawa Wewa reservoir to the north-east of the city - A12 main road, Nachchaduwa Wewa to the south-east - A13 main road and Turuwila Wewa also to the south-east) connected to the minor reservoirs of the district in Cascade System irrigate the vast rice paddy fields of Anurdapura district.

Today Anuradhapura is the most sacred city of Sri Lanka: the restored monuments of gigantic proportions. i.e. Ruwanvelisaya stupa, Jetavana dagoba, Abhayagiri Dagoba and Mirisavatiya dagoba stand in supreme glory.

In terms of height, the colossal stupas are comparable to the great pyramid of Giza (480 ft). The height of Jetavana Stupa, built during the reign of King Mahasen ( the great reservoir builder- the builder of vast Minneriya reservoir) (276-302 AD) is 400 ft; Abhayagiri Stupa, built by King Valagambahu aka Vatta Gamani Abhaya (89-76 BC) is 370ft; Ruwanweliseya Stupa, built by the hero of the Nation, King Dutugamunu (161-137 BC) : 338 ft., steal the limelight, while numerous  other Sri Lanka Holidays cultural attractions of the city contribute immeasurably in revealing the ancient Aryan Sinhalese Buddhist civilization.

The cultural attractions in the direction of south to north are: ruins of Vessagiriya Buddhist monastery; Isurumuniya vihara temple with its magnificent stone sculptures; 1600 stone columns , the remains of one glorious seven story residence  called Lovamahapaya (the brazen palace) of Buddhist monks; Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi peepal tree, the most ancient recorded tree of the world history; Anuradhapura archeological museum, Jetavana museum, restored Thuparam stupa; the ruins of the citadel enclosing the Royal Palace, Mahapali Refectory and Anurdahapura Temple of the Tooth; restored stupa of Lankarama; Et Pokuna (Sinhala: Elephant pond); re-erected serene Samdahi Buddha Statue; ruins of Ratna Pasada palace; ruins of King Mahasena's palace and magnificent Kuttam Pokuna (Sinhala: twin bathing  ponds). The cultural monuments aren't the only features of great splendor. The three great rehabilitated ancient reservoirs, immediately surrounding the city of Anuradhapura merit a visit on their own. Anuradhapura is the very heartbeat of the Aryan Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka. And Anuradhapura presents marvels & mysteries to the Sri Lanka Holidays tourists arriving from overseas as well as to the local populace.

Mihintale Monastery of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

Mihintale hill monastery located 12km east of Anuradhapura is a must visit Sri Lanka Holidays attraction.1840 granite stone cut wide stairway well sheltered by the trees in the wooded hillside leads to a fascinating cluster of Buddhist temples, stupas, natural rock cave cells once gave shelter to resident Buddhist monks. The bathing ponds of exquisite craftsmanship and hydraulic technology give testimony to the technological sophistication of the ancient Aryan Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka.

Polonnaruwa, the easternmost attraction of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

Polonnaruwa, the second capital of Sri Lanka was founded in the 11th century AD. During the King Parakramabahu the Great, Sri Lanka became a prosperous and powerful kingdom. Today, Polonnaruwa features ruins of grand palaces, Buddhist monuments built into the natural setting. Polonnaruwa's vast irrigation reservoirs including Parakrama Samudra, Minneriya wewa reservoir, Giritale wewe reservoir, constructed during the reign of King Parakrambahu made Sri Lanka known by the title of "Granery of the Orient" owing to the significant surplus of rice year after year in the two harvesting seasons called Yala and Maha.

Polonnaruwa, the lost and found capital city

As it had happened in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa too, owing to its great wealth and glory attracted the marauding Dravidian armies from Southern India. Fortunately the great city and its surrounding provinces had been regained by the Sinhalese Kings following each invasion, i.e. Sinhalese King Vijayabahu the third (reign:1246-1250 AD) by defeating the Kalinga invader Kaliga Magha (mass murder, plunder & pillage: 1225-1246 AD); King Parakrambahu the second (reign:1250-1285). Polonnaruwa was abandoned for Kurunegala in the beginning of the13th century.

The Orientation of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa (846- 1302 AD), the second capital of Sri Lanka has its ruins and renovated stupas dotted on the zone east and north-east of in-land sea like man-made lake called Parakrama Samudra (Sinhala: Sea of Parakrama). In the direction of north to south are the ruins of buildings and renovated stupas: Southen group of ruins that includes Pothgul vihara temple and stone carved statue of King Parakramabahu the Great; the Royal place group of ruins that include Royal baths, Mausoleum, Audience chamber, Royal Palace, Council Chamber; Shiva Devale No. 1, Quadrangle, Shiva Devale shrine No. 2, Shiva Devale shrine No. 7, Menik Vihara stupa, Vishhnu Devale shrine No. 2, Shiva devala No. 12, Rankot Vihara stupa, on the eastern flank Parakarama's Sea. Then again north of the Parakrama Samudra reservoir is another group: Buddhist Sema Pasada, Kiri Vehera stupa, Lankathilaka temple, Shiva Devale shrine No. 5, Gal Vihara stone temple (12th century) with granite stone carved colossal Buddha statues highest craftsmanship and artistry. Once again, as in Anuradhapura, the grand cluster of restored ruins and renovated stupas aren't only reason the Sri Lanka Holidays tourists to tour in Polonnaruwa. Parakrama Samudra, the largest ancient reservoir, on its own merit, well deserves a visit to Polonnaruwa. So is vast Minneriya Wewa reservoir, the focal point of Minneriya National Park, home to large herds of wild elephants.

Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel [479-497 AD] of Sri Lanka Cultural triangle

Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel is quite unlike the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Anuradhapura and Polonaruwa rise in many splendored majesty with their glorious religious edifices of monumental scale and nation building irrigation marvels of epic proportions revealing the story of the Aryan Buddhist Sinhalese, the people of the Lion. The whole cities of Anurdhapura and Polonnaruwa are Sinhalese Buddhist sacred sites. In contrast, Sigiriya Lion Rock Citadel is the sole rediscovered kingdom of secular architecture of Aryan Buddhist Sinhalese. Sigirya was the city fortress of King Kasyapa (Sigiri Kashyapa or Kassapa or Kasubu) (479-496 AD), a lover of secular art, a lover of grand urban design, a lover of landscape architecture, a lover of poetry who reigned as if a god king, on a palace built upon the summit -the stepped plateau with a total extent of no less than 1.5 hectares- of an impregnable, insurmountable rock 200 meters in height.

City of Sigiriya: dimensions

Surrounded by the suburbs, the perimeter of the outer city of Sigiriya is marked by ruins and some restored ruins of a square module set to the cardinal directions. The dimensions from west (where we make the entrance) to east is 2750 meters and from south to north is 925 meters. The city is surrounded by ruins of ramparts (total length: 10km) and moats (fed by great Sigiriya weva reservoir). The moat were fed by Sigiriya weva irrigation reservoir, of which the earth dam extends to over 8km, lying immediately to the south of the Sigiriya Rock.

Within the City of Sigiiya

Within the City, in the direction of west to east, are Pleasure Gardens, Inner City and eastern precinct. Sri Lanka Holidays tourists making entry from the western sector walk across the water gardens, Terrace gardens and the boulder gardens to reach the Sigiriya Rock. Right behind the rock, i. e. to the east runs the outlines of the inner city that measures 700 meters form west to east and 500 meters from south to north.

Behind the inner city of Sigiriya

Behind the Inner City is the Outer City, a rectangle of 1500 meter in length in the west-south direction and 1000 meters in breadth in the south-north direction.

The rock of Sigiriya

At the center of fortified inner city is an isolated rock that rises 200m & is sheer on all sides. In a rock pocket of the Sigirya are world renowned Sigiriya frescoes and a wall of graffiti, most possibly the oldest record of graffiti in the world, called mirror wall in view of its sheen.

The ruins of the Sigirya palace on the summit of the Sigiriya rock

On the elliptical  shaped flat summit of the rock that spread 1.5 hectares are the ruins of the palace with two intact swimming pools brimming with water built on to the rock surface.

The ascent to the Summit of the Sigiriya rock

The ascent to the summit of the rock, since ancient brick staircase with the exception of the first part through the mouth of an enormous  brick build lion was destroyed, is a by means of a modern steel staircase bolted onto the sheer rock face.

Kandy, the southernmost attraction of the Cultural Triangle

Kandy (1592-1815), the capital of medieval Sri Lanka, located at an altitude 500 meters is the gateway to Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Kandy's central location in the island makes it the main central transportation hub of Sri Lanka with main roads radiating out to all directions.

While Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa had been glorious kingdoms that ascended to splendorous prosperity and fought epic battles against the marauding Dravidian invading forces from Southern India, Kandy was the medieval refuge city surrounded by rings of mountains and looped by River Mahaweli ganga, the longest and largest river of the tropical island.

Unlike Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the dry zone, Kandy, being in the wet zone has no great irrigation reservoirs: its sole man- made lake was built purely for the decorative purposes of the city center nestled enchantingly ringed by the mountain ranges.

Unlike Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, Kandy being a refuge with a populace much smaller than that had been during the Anuradhapura era and Polonnaruwa era, it has no great stupas, construction of which demand immense man power in the times of peace.

Kandy, the late medieval capital of Sri Lanka owes its status of a cultural attraction greatly to the Sacred Temple of the Tooth (in which the sacred tooth relic of Buddha is deposited) in the city center and a couple of dozens of Kandyan era Buddhist temples located in the zones surrounding the city of Kandy.

While Kandy attracts Sri Lanka Holidays tourists all year round, during July-August, Kandy is overwhelmed by the tourists, local as well as foreign, owing to Kandy Esala Perehera procession, the most vibrant and colorful religious pageant in Asia.

Cultural Triangle National Wildlife Parks: sanctuary to large herds of Wild Elephants

To assume Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is all serene with great white domes of renovated great stupas of epic scale as in Anuradhapura, Mihintale and Polonnaruwa is ignorance. To assume Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is all somber with ruins and is a folly. Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is vibrant and brimming with life: it provides life giving water that extends the lifeline to the whole nation with thousands of irrigation reservoirs located within and around it.

Polonnaruwa is surrounded with national Parks, located adjoining or encompassing great irrigation reservoirs that provide sanctuary to large herds of wild elephants and other mammals, reptile and birds.

The months of August and September bring in the memorable spectacle of congregation of Wild Elephants at Minnerya National Park on the shores of vast Minneriya irrigation reservoir. The months of August and September being the driest in the Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle, the wild elephants in the neighboring zones of wild life parks gather in Minneriya, of which man-made lake is the largest in the zone.

Begin your Cultural Triangle Sri Lanka Holidays in Colombo

Kelaniya Royal Temple located at the city of Kelaniya is enriched with wall and ceiling murals that unfold the milestones of 2554 years of unbroken and recorded Sinhalese Buddhist civilization. There is no better attraction to begin your Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle than Kelaniya Royal Temple at the city of Kelaniya located 11km east of Colombo. Colombo is the capital city, the main harbor, the main international airport and the emporium of Sri Lanka. Beginning the touring Holidays of Cultural Triangle in Colombo also allows the Sri Lanka Holidays Tourists to visit colossal yet serene Aukana Buddha statue and nearby vast Kalawewa irrigation reservoir on the way.

Cultural Triangle Transportation hubs:

Dambulla at the heart of the Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

Dambulla, the main transportation hub of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle straddles the intersection of A6 main motor road that runs to Polonnaruwa and A9 main motor road that leads to Anuradhapura. Throughout the glorious history of Sri Lanka, Dambulla has been the transportation node between the Eastern and Western Dry Zones and between the Dry Zones and the Central Highlands.

Located at a distance of 148km from Colombo, Dambulla can be reached within 4 hours. Dambulla, home to Sri Lanka Holidays Golden Dambulla Rock Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is a major agricultural zone.

Sigirya Bus Route
Above map is reproduced herein by courtesy of Association for Dambulla-Sigiriya Tourism Promotion (ADSTP) Supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency. It is a Project for the Development of Culture-Oriented Tourism in Sigiriya (COTS), which aims at promoting culture-oriented tourism in the Cultural Triangle zone. []Postal address: Association for Dambulla Sigiriya Tourism Promotion Centre, Divisional Secretariat, Dambulla.

Golden Dambulla Rock Cave temple in the heart of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are glorious cities with a multitude of enlightening and inspiring attractions. Though Golden Dambulla Rock Temple located in the center of the Cultural Triangle too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is only a single Buddhist temple. Nevertheless, Rangiri Dambulu Viharaya (Sinhala: Golden Dambulla Rock Cave Temple) is a veritable art gallery of murals and a treasure trove of sculpture.

The rock of Dambulla, is an inselberg that rises to a height of over 600 feet above the surrounding plains. In an area of about fifty acres are scattered a cluster of rock caves. Built underneath an enormous rock outcropping or gneiss nearly five hundred feet in height and about two thousand feet in length, Golden Dambulla Rock Cave temple takes us by surprise to reveal some chapters of the glorious history of Sri Lanka. The three main shrine-caves contain157 statues of Buddha, Arhaths (Sinhala: the supremely enlightened), Deva (Sinhala: gods) and kings. Being renovated, remodeled and embellished throughout the history of Sri Lanka, since the establishment of it during the reign of the Lionhearted King Valagambahu or Vattagamaini Abhaya (104-76 BC) till King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1746-1778 AD), Dambulla Rock Cave Temple presents the invaluable opportunity to be enlightened with the evolution of Sinhalese Buddhist paintings and sculpture from a century before the Christ to late eighteenth century. Such a sweeping range of material in a single location, authenticated by recorded history, is a rare treasure trove anywhere in the world.

Cultural Triangle Transportations hub:


Sri Lanka Holidays Habarana village is situated where A6 Dambulla-Trincomalee road meets A11 Anuradhapura-Polonnaruwa road. Habarana has become the preferred transportation hub of the Cultural triangle tourists who not only wish make tours in the circuit of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Dambulla, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa but also to enjoy the wildlife of the zone. No less than three national Parks, all home to herds of wild elephants, other mammals and rich in birdlife are located within the zone: Minneriya National Park & Kaudulla National Park.

Distances from Habarana to cultural attractions of the Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle

Habarana - Polonnaruwa: 46km; Habarana - Ritigala: 21km; Habarana - Dambulla: 25km; Habarana - Sigiriya: 30km
Distances from Habarana to wildlife attractions: Habarana - Minneriya: 28km
Distances from Habarana to alternative locations for hotel accommodation: Habarana - Kandalama: 37km; Habarana - Giritale, Polnnaruwa: 07km.

Hurulu Eco Park at Habarana

Hurulu Eco Park spreads an area of 10,000. With a drive of around 22 km from the Habarana end. The four streams that run through the park wind their courses to the Hurulu Wewa rainwater reservoir that sustain the wildlife in the area. Hurulu Eco Park is carved out of the Hurulu Forest Reserve, a dry zone area that has also been declared a "Man and the Biosphere reserve" (MAB) by UNESCO. Sri Lanka has four (International) Biosphere Reserves: Bundala, Hurulu, Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya Forest Complex and the UNESCO World Heritage Site among the 30 wild life and nature reserves of the Island.

The ruins reveal for us to revel

Following excerpt, the words of Dr. Andreas Nell, is reproduced herein by kind courtesy of Ms. Dalrene Brohier

Discovering Ceylon written by R. L. Brohier, O. B. E., Hon. Litt. (Ceylon), 1973, Colombo, Sri Lanka and dedicated to Dr. Andreas Nell (1865-1956), the doyen of Ceylon Antiquarians, an apostle of peace and culture.

"If you sit on a ruined balustrade in the Thuparama Park at Anuradhapura, or upon a fallen pillar in the sacred quadrangle at Polonnaruwa, you cannot but feel moved to reflection that the moments around you have a message, in so much as the lithic inscription we saw told its story more directly.

‘yes, the ruins of our ancient cities have a message for us all, of we put ourselves in their surroundings. You can spend hours in such reflection. You may spend days in admiration and wonder. You may take years to study the styles and designs of the structure, and their relation to India, Persia and Egypt. You may do all this and eventually be able to rack through the ages the something Mycenaen, something Egyptian, something Sumerian, Aryan or early Brahmin-but yet fail to read aright the message of these stones, unless you seek and mentally grasp the conditions of their construction.

‘Disregard kingly power and monkish influence, wealth, the conditions of labor and other such materialistic matters. Consider only the indispensable factors for the production of such excellence in craftsmanship. These are firstly, the existence of many craftsmen-loving their art, and longing for the means of expressing their art, and, secondly, the co-existence of public able to appreciate and ready to recognize the merits of good work. The two factors act reciprocal on each other, and the absence of either one injuriously effects the other.
"But, even this is insufficient. You must be responsive to the influence of these remains of the past, identifying and rendering yourself sensitive to their surroundings, and the manner of men who built these."

Sri Lanka Holidays Cultural Triangle Hotels

If the magnificent tourist attractions in the Cultural Triangle enlighten the Sri Lanka Holidays tourists, then the cluster of award winning eco-oriented, nature-bound top of the flight luxury hotels within it do lighten their hearts with serene eco-oriented lakeside settings: at the forefront are Kandalama Heritance Hotel in Kandalama, Dambulla; Jetwing Vill Uyana chalets in Rangirigama, Sigiriya; Elephant corridor chalets in Kimbissa, Sigiriya and Ulagalla Walawwa Resort  in Dambulla-Anuradhapura Road,Thirappane, Anuradhapura.

Close at the heels of these splendid luxurious hotels are still more nature bound eco-centric hotels: Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana; Amaya Lake in Kandalama, Dambulla; Chaaya Village in Habarana; Deer Park Hotel at Giritale close to Minneriya. All of these are fine luxury hotels built onto spectacular lakeside settings.

Sri Lanka Hotel Guide - Hotel Information, Special Offers, News and Trends and much more

Sri Lanka Travel Guide - Travel Information, Special Offers, News and Trends and much more

Photo Gallery

click on photo to enlarge

Kandy the Royal City

Kandy the Royal City


Polonnaruwa Vatadage

Sath Mahal Prasada

Gal Vihara

Statue of King Parkrambahu

Sri Maha Bodhi Temple

Jetavana Dagoba

Abhayagiri Vihara

Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds)

Abhayagiri Giant Pond

Lankarama Dagoba

Thuparama Dagoba

Thuparama Vihara

Ruwanweliseya Stupa

Dakkhina Stupa

Isurumuniya Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Dambulla Rock Temple

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock Overview

Sigiriya Rock Aerial View

Entrance via Lion Paws

Climbing of Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Maidens

Sigiriya Maidens

View at the Top of Sigiriya

View at the Top of Sigiriya

View at the Top of Sigiriya

The Holy Temple of the Tooth

Lankatilaka Vihara

Hunnas Falls

Kandy Dancers

Victoria Golf Club

Knuckles Range

Knuckles Range

Knuckles Range


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