Heritage of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka possesses a rich cultural heritage spanning over 2500 years and enriched by various cultural influences from other countries, especially India. Most importantly the element of Buddhism is evident in almost every aspect of Sri Lanka's heritage and traditions.

Sri Lanka was a well-organized civilization thriving with vitality about five centuries before Christ. Cities, monuments, palaces, temples, monasteries, works of art are a clear demonstration of the imagination, philosophy, faith and culture of the Sri Lankans. Till date vestiges of this ancient civilization are in existence.

Sri Lanka's Heritage Sites

Sigiriya – Known as the “ eighth Wonder of the ancient world ” Sigiriya is an ancient Rock fortress located north of Sri Lanka. It has an intriguing history with astounding frescoes painted around 15 centuries ago and above all it is Asia's oldest surviving landscape garden.
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Kandy ( Senkadagalapura) – Temple of Tooth and Esala Perahera – The Tooth relic of Buddha or the “Danta Dhatu” is considered to be one of the most revered objects of worship by Buddhists all over the world and now lies in the sanctum sanctorum of the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.

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The Esala Perahera is a historic pageant held in Kandy and prior to the year 1775 it was exclusively held to entreat the four guardian deities of the island namely Vishnu, Natha, Kataragama and Pattini.

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Anuradhapura - A world heritage site is also Sri Lanka's first capital located 206 km north of Colombo. Popular heritage sites in this ancient city include:

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  • Ruwanveliseya – a marvelous Stupa built by Gods and men
  • Abayagiri Vihara – the northern monastery (Uttararamaya)
  • Ancient marble carvings of Sri Lanka
  • The Samadhi Buddha statue
  • Isurumuniya(6 th century Gupta style carving)

Polonnararuwa – Considered the glory of medieval Sri Lanka this world heritage site is surrounded by the impressive 12 th century Royal Citadel. In the early 11 th century the capital of Sri Lanka was moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnararuwa. Galvihara in Polonnararuwa has some of the finest collection of Buddhist culture.

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Dambulla Cave Temple - This world heritage site constitutes around 48 Lord Buddha statues along with some Hindu Gods which date back to the 12 th century.

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Kataragama – Known as the place of light and love, Kataragama is also one of the noted Sri Lankan heritage sites.

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Galle – Known as the old world's romantic city, Galle owes its glory to its natural harbor and was a trade center in the olden days due to its strategic position. Popular site in Galle are:

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  • Dutch Reformed Church
  • Galle Church – Burial chambers and vaults
  • National Maritime Museum- Galle

Sri Pada – Also known as the Adam's peak this sacred mountain is considered the holiest of the holy hills.

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Mihintalle – Popularly known as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and renowned heritage attraction includes the Kaludiya pokuna : ancient feats in granite.

Ritigala – known as the monastic complex and is one of the popular heritage sites of Sri Lanka.

Other Sri Lankan heritage sites include:

  • Adisham Bungalow
  • Bogoda Roofed Bridge
  • The Bogoda Bridge
  • St. Lucia's Cathedral – Kotahena
  • The limestone Grottos of Vavulpane
  • The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya
  • Sita Eliya
  • Aliwatte


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