Sri Lanka -Insight

Sigiriya

Sigiriya or Sinhagiri (Lion Rock) is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. This is a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters (660 ft) high bearing historical and archaeological significance.

In 477 CE, Kashyapa I, the king’s son seized the throne from King Dhatusena, following a coup. Afraid of an attack by the rightful heir, Moggallana, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya.

He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. The gateway to the palace is in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place, the Lion Rock, is derived from this structure. This complex city and fortress consist of defensive structures, palaces, and gardens. 

Frescos Painting:

John Still in 1907 wrote, “The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery… the largest picture in the world perhaps”. The paintings have covered an area 140 meters long and 40 meters high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings

The Mirror Wall:

It is said that originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it.

Gardens:

The Gardens of Sigiriya city are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three distinct interconnected forms: water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens.

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is the second-largest city in the North Central Province and one of the cleanest and more beautiful cities in the country. It is also the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms. It bears the status of a World Heritage site declared by UNESCO.

Today, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa reflects the architectural brilliance of the kingdom’s first rulers and the city remains one of the best-planned archaeological relic cities in the country. 

Places to see in Polonnaruwa:

The Polonnaruwa Vatadage:

This ancient structure is believed to have been built during the reign of Parakramabahu I to hold the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha or during the reign of Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa to hold the alms bowl used by the Buddha.

Rankoth Vehera:

This is a stupa located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The name Rankoth Vehera can be translated to English as “Gold Pinnacled Stupa”. It is one of the most revered stupas in Polonnaruwa.

Nissanka Latha Mandapaya:

This is a unique structure in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa built by King Nissanka Malla (1187-1196) and named after him. A màndapa is a pillared structure that is open on all sides and protects the person(s) inside from the sun with a roof.

Gal Vihara:

This is a rock temple of the Buddha designed by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. The main feature of the temple is four rock relief statues of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granite rock.

The Statue of the King Parakramabahu I

This is located close to the easter bank of the Parakrama Samudra reservoir built by Parakramabahu himself. The statue of Parakramabahu I is one of the best stone sculptures belonging to the Polonnaruwa period. The 11-foot-2-inch-high statue is carved on a large boulder.

Dambulla

Situated in the north of Matale district in the Central province of Sri Lanka, Dambulla is just 148 kilometers from Colombo. According to history, the area is believed to be inhabited from as early as the 7th to 3rd century BC. The statues and paintings in the caves of Dambulla date back to the 1st century BC.

2700 years old human skeletons were found at the Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site which is evidence that civilizations had existed here long before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Attractions at Dambulla:

Dambulla Cave Temple:

 Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, Dambulla Cave Temple is a World Heritage Site. It is the largest and the best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock stands 160 metres tall over the surrounding plains. There are around 80 caves containing statues and paintings related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan Kings and four statues of Gods and Goddesses.An area of 2,100 square meters is covered by murals and the walls contain depictions such as ‘temptation by deon Mara’ and Buddha’s first sermon.

Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium: 

This is famous for being built in just 167 days.  It is situated on a 60-acre site leased from the Rangiri Dambulla Temple and is the first and only International cricket ground in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The stadium is built overlooking the Dambulla Tank (reservoir) and the Dambulla Rock.

The Rose Quartz Mountain Range:

Asia’s largest rose quartz mountain is situated in the “Jathika Namal Uyana” of Sri Lanka. According to archaeological researchers, the age of this Rose Quartz Mountain dates back to more than 500 million years. The mountain range consists of a series of 7 rose quartz mountains situated at an elevation of 180 to 300 meters above sea level sheltered by the largest ironwood forest.

Popham Arboretum

The Popham Arboretum, Sri Lanka’s only dry zone arboretum was created over five decades ago on 7.5 acres of thorny scrub jungle and abandoned ‘Chena’ land in Dambulla amidst a natural landscape of water and mountains. Created by Sam Popham, an Englishman, the arboretum houses many species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders and mammals including bats.

The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs

The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs is an ancient burial site located near Ibbankatuwa Wewa. The site is thought to belong to the megalithic prehistoric and protohistoric periods of Sri Lanka.  Radiocarbon dating carried out on remains of the site has revealed that these tombs date back to 700 – 400 B.C.

Kaludiya Pokuna Forest:

Kaludiya Pokuna Archaeologica Forest site  is a forest with archeological remains in Kandalama, in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. The place got its name (‘kalu’ means black) from a pond that had dark water at ancient times. The  initial settlement was found in the 2nd century BC  the remains in the site include inscriptions, residences and a monastery. The forest is home for many endemic and non-endemic species of flora and fauna,