World Heritage Sites

Anuradhpura

Anuradhapura is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It was the third capital of the Kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara. The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the center of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. The city lies 205 km (127 mi) north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. It is believed that from the fourth century BC until the beginning of the 11th century AD it was the capital of the Sinhalese. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).

Dambulla

Dambulla is a large town, situated in the Matale District, Central Province of Sri Lanka, situated 148 km (92 mi) north-east of Colombo and 72 km (45 mi) north of Kandy. Due to its location at a major junction, it's the centre of vegetable distribution in the country.
Major attractions of the area include the largest and best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The area also boasts the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Na Uyana Aranya.
Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site near Dambulla cave temple complexes is the latest archaeological site of significant historical importance found in Dambulla, which is located within 3 km (1.9 mi) of the cave temples providing evidence of the presence of indigenous civilisations long before the arrival of Indian influence on the Island nation.

Galle

According to records, Galle was a popular port of call and a safe harbor for navigators of the middle ages who were engaged in trading and exploration. Therefore, during this period Galle had acquired fame among foreign sea farers not as a city but as a safe harbor and an international trading post.
According to legend, the history of Galle dates back to the period of Rama and Ravana. There is a belief that the Rumassala hill was formed by a part of the Himalayan mountains which was dropped by the monkey general Hanumantha. In historical texts the city of Galle is mentioned in connection with the period of the reign of King Devanampiyatissa as well as the period of the reign of King Dutugemunu, dating back to over 2,000 years. However, the oldest writing on Galle presently in existence is the trilingual inscription on a stone plaque which was discovered in 1911 fixed to a culvert on Cripps Road in Galle.

Kandy

Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka, located in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. It is the second largest city in the country after Colombo. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. The city of Kandy lies at an elevation of 465 metres (1,526 ft) above sea level. Its plan developed around two open spaces: an elongated square, at the end of which are the administration buildings of the old capital, and an artificial lake that is quadrangular in form. A public garden adds to the openness of the city's spatial organization.

Temple of the Tooth
The temple of the sacred tooth relic or the Dalada maligawa has to be the greatest Buddhist shrine in Sri lanka. Since Kandy was the capital of ancient Sri lanka from 1592 to 1815, reigned by many great Kings. The temple opined as the heart of the Kandy city. The sacred tooth relic was received to Sri lanka about 16 centuries ago. The other tooth relic is believed to be placed in the Somawthi Dagoba. King Wimladarmasooriya who reigned during 1592- 1603 A.D supposed to build a 2 storied building to place the sacred tooth relic. King Wimaadarmasuriya 2 (1686-1706) made the complex into a 3 storied.
Eventually his son Sri Vira parakrama Narendrasingha who is the last king of Sinhalese, rebuild a new two storied temple. The final king of Sri lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha added the large octagonal shaped ‘Paththiruppuwa’ to the temple and used to address the countrymen.
After being a prison hall to the British military academy, now ancient records and manuscripts written in ola leaves are protected in ‘Paththirippuwa’. Visitors are expected to wear clean white dress covering your shoulders down to the knees. In order to enter the temple go through the ‘Maha vahalkada’. This ‘Vahalakada’ is constituted of two walls. While the inner wall is called as Diyareli bema (wall of water ripples) the outer wall is called ’Walakulu bemma’(wall of clouds). Upon entering you have to pass through the Makara thorana and the tunnel ‘Ambarawa’. Then you will find the ground floor of the tample called ‘Pallemaluwa’. Daily rituals conducted by the drummers, are carried out in the ‘Hevisi mandapaya’. The most unique feature of the temple is the brightly colored frescoes and carvings.
The sacred tooth relic is kept inside the room called ‘Vedahitina maligaya’. As soon as you enter the upper floor you will find an elaborative door with gold and silver decorations. The tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets in the chamber. Two pairs of elephant’s tusks are besides the camber. The gorgeous outer casket is embellished with many stones and gold items offered by various kings. The ‘Perahera karnduwa’ (relic chamber) used in the ‘Esala perahera’ is on the right side. So many devotees and pilgrims are worshipped the temple every day. Rather than that the temple of the sacred tooth relic is a place where you can experience the Sri lankan culture at its best. Though Kandy is a UNESCO world heritage site the Devala located at the opposite of the Dalada maligawa is an edifice made for next Buddha to come to the world. You can see the taxidermised remains of the famous tusker raja which carried the Perahera karanduwa for over 50 years.

Embakke Wood carvings
Places like Embekke devalaya in Kandy attract tourists to Sri lanka upon the whole. Though much attention has not paid by the averaged tourist about the history of this place this would have been the finest wood carving work in Sri lanka. The Devalaya located in the Udu nuwara divisional secretariat was constructed by King Vikramabahu 3 (1357-1374 A.D) during the Gampola reign.
According to the historical records it was built around 1370’s. The Embekke devala is an edifice to worship Mahasen so called as Kataragama deviyo. Simultaneously there are 3 sections of the holy place. In detail they are Hevisi mandapaya (drummer’s hall), Digge (dancing hall) and sanctum or Garagha.
The temple site was designed by a drummer called Rangama and the queen of Vickramabahu 1 named Henakanda Biso bandara. Earlier the Devalaya was a three storied one but today you can see the spectacular carvings of the remaining. It is highlighted in the ‘Embekke Devala varbnanava’ about this construction and the great Sri lankan architecture used. The great Embekke devalaya became more famous because of the exquisite and intricate wood carvings on the pillars of the drummer’s hall. Since Embekke devalaya was declared as a national heritage site it has become a high ranked tourism destination of Sri lanka. As soon as you enter the Devalaya these wood carvings in the pillars and roof are amazing.
Carvings of wooden flowers, swans, and mythical animals underneath the Devala roof are proved to be hypnotized. Even the nails used to build the columns also wooden nails. The annual Perahera is a special function which takes place. Many tourists are cotton on to see the drummers, traditional dancers, beautifully decorated elephants and whip crackers. The remaining carved timber pillars and beams were built during the supremacy of King Rajadhi rajasingha.
Being an monument of kandiyan wood carving the Devala site is open to the public. But remember not to enter the location with your shoes and slippers. Each carving has a historical value, name and a story. 126 different decorations, 256 patterns of ‘liyawel’ and 64 lotus flower designs are the features used by the craftsman. Even few of the floral designs are added in to the Ordinary level syllabus. You can also visit the ‘Sinhasana mandapa’ few meters away from the Devalaya which the king used to sit at his throne and watch the Perahera.

Polonnaruwa

Poḷonnaruwa is the main town of Polonnaruwa District in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Kaduruwela area is the Polonnaruwa New Town and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country once more under a local leader.
The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site. Currently the new Polonnaruwa is under going a major development project known as the "Awakening of Polonnaruwa" under the concept of President Maithripala Sirisena. It envisions the development of all sectors in Polonnaruwa including roads, electricity, agriculture, education, health and environment will be developed comprehensively

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the central Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres (660 ft) high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. It is the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.
In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British army, while returning on horseback from a trip to Pollonnuruwa, encountered the "bush covered summit of Sigiriya" Sigiriya came to the attention of antiquarians and, later, archaeologists. Archaeological work at Sigiriya began on a small scale in the 1890s. H.C.P. Bell was the first archaeologist to conduct extensive research on Sigiriya. The Cultural Triangle Project, launched by the Government of Sri Lanka, focused its attention on Sigiriya in 1982. Archaeological work began on the entire city for the first time under this project. There was a sculpted lion's head above the legs and paws flanking the entrance, but the head collapsed years ago.
Sigiriya consists of an ancient citadel built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palaces located behind the lavish lower gardens, and moats and ramparts which protected the citadel. The site was both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace on the top of the rock includes cisterns cut into the rock. The moats and walls that surround the lower palace are exquisitely beautiful.

Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja is well known famous rain forest in Sri lanka.Sinharaja is a national park.Sinharaja located Sabaragamuwa and southern Provinces in Sri lanka.It is the only undisturbed rain forest left in Sri lanka.It is about 9000 hector's in extent.Many of the plants are very rare.Over 60% of the tree species are found only in the low land wet zone of Sri lanka.especially in Sinharaja.If those species of trees are allowed to get destroyed,the world would lose them altogether. So it is important that much effort is made to conserve this rich,valuable and forgile habitat.This unique rain forest nurtures not only magnificent tree species that top 40 meters in height , but alsomedicinal plants such as maha hedaya .Endemic extends beyond exotic flora to butterflies , a dozen endemic species of birds and even the rare Ramanella plamata , the only microhylid (genus of frog) recorded so far. The sinharaja rain forest is the largest rain forest in Sri lanka. In 1840 Sinharaja become a crown property.In 1988 it was made a National Wilderness area.In 1989 UNESCO included the Sinharaja forest in the world heritage list as the First national Heritage of Sri lanka.
The Sinharaja forest is home to many rare animals, birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles and trees.Ferns and mosses grow well as the climate is humid because of heavy rain fall.
Conservation of Sinharaja is of vital necessity.It ensures the maintenance of water resources.It also controls floods, which is a constant threat due to heavy rainfall in the area.
Sinharaja forest is maintained by Department of Forest Conservation. It is government property.No one can enter the Sinharaja forest without permission.Rangers all ways keep eye on it.The drive from Colombo to Sinharaja takes about 4 hours passing through some stunning hill country on the way.

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