CULTURAL & ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS

Also called the ‘Lion Rock’, a fortress together with a royal palace on the summit of the rock, unharmed nature with rock caves, boulders, ponds. A marvelous site that majority of the tourists do not miss. Anyhow you have to be physically fit to climb this rock on your own otherwise you have to seek the help of the helpers who are willing to offer their services at a price. The history goes back to 5th Century AD where the fun loving King Kashyapa built his Palace on top of the rock – 200metres above the surrounding plains and the area surrounding rock bottom is protected by two moats and three walls. This is a unique combination of 5th century – Urban planning, Gardening, Architecture, Hydro technology and Arts. Visitors can see the beautiful life-size Fresco paintings. Different ideas on the lady figures given by some archaeologists; H C P Bell said that the ladies shown in the paintings are the ladies who were in the ‘Harem’, they are in a devotional processional to the temple Pidurangala. Professor Paranawithana’s suggestion is that those ladies represent lightning princesses and cloud damsels. Dr. Ananda Kumaraswami said that they are celestial nymphs also called as apsaras or heavenly angles.

As you enter from the Western entrance you will come across the Royal pleasure garden, it consist of a water garden, miniature water garden, fountain garden, boulder & cave garden, and a terraced garden encircling the rock and also a combination of these three garden types (water, boulder, terraced) are also seen in the palace garden on the summit of the rock.

After the abandonment of the palace and the fortress in late 5th century AD, it became a place of pilgrimage for the public because before the arrival of king Kashyapa, this had been a monastery. The visitors who came there between 6th to 14th century AD, greatly inspired by the paintings, they composed poems addressed mostly to the ladies in the frescos. These verses were inscribed on the highly polished surface of the mirror wall and are known as ‘graffiti’, mostly dated to 6th-14th century AD.

ANURADHAPURA

The first Capitol of Sri Lanka where the history goes back to 4th Century BC. You can see the ruins and monuments of 2nd century BC to 4th century AD. The world largest stupa – Jethawana, that has used 93 million bricks to build this belongs to an old Monastery complex. Abhayagiriya is the 2nd world largest stupa which is belongs to the largest monastery that sheltered 5000 monks. The world largest ‘rice boat’ is in Abhayagiriya refectory.

THUPARAMAYA

The oldest stupa of Sri Lanka that enshrines the right coller bone of Budda is comparatively a small stupa of ‘Bell ‘ shape constructed in the 3rd century BC by king Devanampiyatissa .

SRI MAHA BODHIYA

This is a sapling of the secred Boo tree which was brought to Sri Lanka from India in 246 BC. When Budda was seated under a Peepul tree(later it was called the Boodhi or Boo tree) on the bank of river Niranjana at Buddhgaya(Bihar) at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment.

MOONSTONE

A beautiful crescent moon shaped granite slab with delicate, firm, sharp and perfect carvings. Those carved rings symbolizes the endless cycle of re-birth and the path to freedom leading to enlightenment.Star gate, Royal gold fish park(Ranmasu Uyana) and water management systems - there are three bathing ponds and some smaller ponds which probably held the gold fish and water lilies. The true wonder of Ranmasu Uyana is found among the rock boulders and caves away from the pools. Carved on a stone wall is a strange map like chart known to many as the ‘stargate’. A stargate is believed to be a gateway between the earth and the outer space, through which humans allegedly roamed the universe communicating and engaging with other intelligent beings in the universe. This chart is believed to be the secret code to accessing the stargate. Facing the stargate marking are four seats, which implies that it was a chart, which could be used or manipulated by four individuals.jeethawanaya

POLONNARUWA

The second Capitol of Sri Lanka in between 11th and 13th centuries AD. Basically visitors can see the ruins and monuments of three major kings who ruled during that period. Polonnaruwa, geographically better secured location – a long distance away from the famous sea port where South Indian invaders used to disembark, also due to a lot of irrigational works/lakes and canals Polonnaruwa was rich in food production in this period. So the kings decided to shift the kingdom down to Polonnaruwa. Anuradapura became out of space when the kings ruled over 1400 years and made a lot of buildings such as Palaces, Monastries,

Ponds and lakes etc. Out of many monuments and ruins, the under mentioned are the important ones. Statue of King / Sage – A masterpiece in sculpture, 11 feet, 6 inches tall figure carved in the rock. Still there are controversial ideas about this sculpture. Palaces of kings Nissankamalla and Parakramabahu. The council chamber and the Royal pond of king Parakramabahu the great are in the ‘inner city’. Image houses and Circular relic house, the two ‘tooth relic houses’ called ‘Ata da ge’ and ‘Heta da ge’, stone book and ‘Sath mahal prasadaya’, situated in the Sacred Quadrangle. Thivanka Image House – a headless Budda statue bent at three places(shoulder,waste/hip and knee) displays a relaxed stance. This temple contains a large number of paintings in the inner chambers are decaying fast. Alahana Perivena – a Buddhist monastic university covers 210 acres. A monk hospital, baddaseemaprasadaya(chapter house), lankathilaka image house and kirivehera stupa are located on the upper terrace, while the living quarters of monks, bathing ponds, refectories etc. are located on the lower terrace. Galvihara – Also known as Northern monastery with well preserved rock-cut Buddha statues seated, standing and lying figures of Budda are worth visiting.

GOLDEN CAVE TEMPLE OF DAMBULLA

The name ‘Dambulla’ derived from the two words ‘damba’ means rock and ‘ulla’ means fountain. The golden cave rock temple in Dambulla, is a World Heritage Site (1991) in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. This site is situated 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. It is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80

documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life. There total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include two statues of Hindu gods, the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square meters. Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha's first sermon.

Prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived in these cave complexes before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as there are burial sites with human skeletons about