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Ancient Cities

  • Aukana

    Ancient Cities


    One of Sri Lanka’s most perfect and elegant statues, the Aukana Buddha lies to the west of the large Kala Wewa tank. Creation of both the temple and the tank (reservoir) is attributed to King Dhatusena in the 5th century. The statue stands 12m high, carved from a single rock and is completely free-standing. It is an example of the Abhayamudra Buddha, showing superhuman qualities. The right handed gesture, raised to the right shoulder with the palm spread, signifies lack of fear. The left hands position draws the worshipper to Buddha for release from their earthly bonds. The statue has gained significance in recent times due to the destruction of similar Buddha in Afghanistan.

    The Aukana Buddha can be visited en route to Anuradhapura and can easily be combined with the ancient monastery site of Sasseruwa. It only takes a maximum of 45 minutes to visit the site. The nearby Kala Wewa tank (reservoir) is also an excellent place to stop off and have a picnic with a most satisfying view

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  • Sigiriya

    Discover the Past

    Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and castle/palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. It is a popular tourist destination, also known for its ancient paintings (frescos), very similar to those in the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiraya was built during the reign of King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

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  • Mihintale

    Ancient Cities

    Mihintale, one of Sri Lanka’s most significant cultural sites, lies 13kms east of Anuradhapura and is where Buddhism originated on the island. In 247 BC King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, was deer hunting on the plains beneath Mihintale, and met Mahinda, son of the Indian Buddhist emperor, and chose the path of Buddhism for the Sinhalese nation following Mahinda’s persuasion.

    Despite this, Mihintale is less famous than many cultural triangle sites, but those who visit are rewarded with a beautiful location with magnificent views, along with the experience of visiting a working Buddhist temple, the intriguing excavated ruins of a former monastery, a stunningly set dagoba and arguably the most religious rock in Sri Lanka- where Mahinda preached Buddhism to the deer-hunting King Tissa below. Well-worth a visit and easily combined in a day with Anuradhapura, Mihintale is a little-known gem that will enthral all culture-junkies.

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  • Ritigala

    Ancient Cities


    Ritigala nestles deep inside the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve, found just off the Anuradhapura-Habarana road, and is the partially excavated ruins of an extensive Buddhist Monastery. It was abandoned following invasions in 10th and 11th centuries and today holds special appeal with its curious blend of nano-safari and archaeology. Walking around the beautiful ruins does certainly give you a feeling of adventures in search of mythical pasts; it is easy to imagine yourself as Indiana Jones whilst clambering over the overgrown relics of a forgotten time.

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  • Tissamaharama



    Tissamaharama named after the man-made reservoir Tissa Wewa, is one of the most pleasant towns in the southern coast is homes to many remarkable bird life and provides the scenic backdrop to the town. Tissa was the sanctuary in the deep south, where Sinhalese patriots fled to rally support against marauding Dravidian invaders from Southern India. Known by the name of Mahagama (great town), it was one of the principal settlements of the southern province of Ruhuna. Mahagama was founded in the third century BC by a brother of the King Devanam Piya Tissa of Anuradhapura, & later rose to prominence under King Kavantissa, father of the hero of the nation, King Dutugamunu of Ruhuna.

    Modern Tissa is a bustling city with the main street lined with banks, shops & little cafes and kiosks. Refreshing breeze from the large reservoir sweeps the town. The town in turn is bounded by a beautiful expanse of paddy fields. In the midst of paddy fields stands most impressive of Tissa’s dagobas (stupas). The combination of cluster of dagobas & two beautiful tanks lend Tissa a certain distinction & a sense of history making it in sharp contrast with the other towns of southern coast.

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  • Kandy

    Ancient Cities

    Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka is a major tourist destination. ( 115kM from Colombo at 465 meters above sea level). Famous for the

    Temple of the Tooth and many other temples the city could be called the cultural capital of the island.

    Kandy Perahera, the pageant of the temple of tooth where Buddha’s tooth is kept is held either in July or August each year to parade the golden caskets is a must see itenary if one is visiting Sri Lanka during these months. The final night procession is the most spectacular event of the country. More than 50 elephants parade the city accompanied by the drummers, dancers and chieftains.

    the city established in the 15th century was the last royal capital where 2500 years of royal rule ended. This bustling market town is rich in cultural diversity has plenty of iteneries to offer to the tourists from songs dances and handy crafts to ancient temples and adventure activities. Kandy is a good transit point to the cultural triangle to the north or hill country to the south. The city is also a good source of souvenirs or to experience many cultural performances at it’s various hotels in the city.

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  • Dambulla

    Ancient Cities


    Dambulla Golden Temple and Cave Temple are two engrossing cultural historical sites in one place. For the serious culture junkies, they offer hours of exploration. Your first sight of Dambulla will be the giant gold Buddha sitting on the roof of the Golden Temple. Built in 2001 it is said to be the largest o f its kind in the world.

    Aside from this eye-catching, if slightly tacky, recent addition, the ancient caves reward immediately those who’ve endured a steep climb up to them with a fine panorama of surrounding jungle, tanks and Sigiriya Rock, 19km away. The caves at first came into use as a refuge for King Valagambahu in 1st century BC. Concealed by the local monks, upon returning from exile to his throne at Anuradhapura, he had the magnificent cave temple built for them. There are five main caves, created by a cliff overhang, fronted by an assortment of monastic buildings surrounding a ceremonial courtyard. Each cave is spectacularly painted and different from the next.

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