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Visit medieval capital Anuradhapura
Visit Temple in Mihintale
Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Visit Ancient city of Polonnaruwa
Visit Dambulla Cave Temple
Approx. distance – 150 km / transfer time: 4 to 5 Hrs
On arrival at Colombo International Airport, you will be met by a professional English speaking driver at the Arrival Lounge.
After completion of formalities at the airport, you will be escorted to your air conditioned vehicle. Thereafter, you will travel to Sigiriya, in the north-central plains. Sigirya is located in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka.
Sigirya is an ancient palace and fortress complex with immense archaeological importance. Sigirya is a rock plateau situated 370 meters above sea level. This fortress complex has a ruined palace surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, landscaped gardens, fountains and ponds. Sigirya has the oldest landscaped garden in the world which is still maintained well showcasing glories of a rich ancient civilization. There are three gardens in Sigiriya; water gardens, boulder gardens and terraced gardens. These gardens as well as fountains, canals, lakes, bridges, surface and underground water pumps display advanced architectural and engineering skills of ancient Sri Lankans.
The palace and fortress complex at Sigiriya are recognized as one of the marvels of ancient urban planning. Urban planning, water engineering techniques, horticulture as well as paintings of Sigiriya are marvels admired by local and foreign tourists, researchers and present day engineers.
One of the major attractions of Sigiriya is its Mirror Wall with inscriptions and poems written by visitors in the past. The oldest inscription dates back to the 8th century. The main entrance to Sigiriya is located in the northern side of the rock and the entrance was designed in the form of a huge stone lion. The lion’s feet can be seen today.
Sigirya was the palace of King Kashyapa (473 – 495 CE) who ruled Sri Lanka. It had been a Buddhist Monastery before and after King Kashyapa’s rule.
In 1982, Sigiriya was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sigirya is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka.
Upon arrival check into the hotel, and spend the rest of the day in leisure and relaxation.
Overnight at your selected hotel in Damubulla
Approx. distance – 75 km / transfer time: 1.5 to 2 Hrs
After breakfast, depart to Anuradhapura situated in the North Central Province on the banks of the historic Malvathu River. Anuradhapura is a great monastic city from the fifth century BC and was the capital of Sri Lanka until 11th century A.D. It is a great city with ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples, historical and archaeological sites, towering stupas (dagobas), marvels of ancient engineering, vast reservoirs, huge stone pillars amidst ruins of royal palaces, magnificent stone cut vast swimming pools (built centuries ago with sophisticated hydrology), enormous and preserved ruins. Anuradhapura was the cradle of glorious Sinhalese Buddhist civilization.
On arrival at Anuradhapura, you can visit this majestic city and explore Buddhist monasteries and temples. You can visit this city which is an epitome of one of the oldest inhabited cities with its proud culture and civilization. Buddhism found its real home in Sri Lanka at Anuradhapura with the introduction of Theravada Buddhism by Arhat Mahinda, son of Emperor Asoka of India.
Anuradhapura is the first established kingdom of Sri Lanka. Visit the ruins of one of Sri Lanka’s oldest capitals and one of the oldest continuous inhabited cities in the world, founded in the 05th century BC. Here is found the largest number of ancient monuments of a great civilization. Buddhism found its first real home in Sri Lanka at Anuradhapura, and it thus contains some of Theravada Buddhism’s most sacred sites.
Thereafter, visit the “Sri Maha Bodhi”, the Bo Tree which is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world. It is a sapling of the Peepal Tree at Buddha Gaya in Northern India in whose shelter the Buddha attained supreme Enlightenment. This tree was brought to Sri Lanka by Arhat Sangamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka.
You can also visit Samadhi Statue in the Mahameuvna Park (the statue of the Buddha in meditating posture). This eight feet tall statue is carved on granite is a shrine visited by Buddhists as well as local and overseas visitors. The statue is an indication of skilled architecture of ancient Sri Lankans. According to archaeologists, the sculptor of this great statue has placed the eyes of the Buddha not similar to any other statue in the world. This is one of the best sculptures of the Anuradhapura Period. Indian Prime Minister Sri Jawaharlal Nehru had found solace by looking at a photograph of this statue during his imprisonment.
You can also see a large number of moonstones and guard stones, an important aspect of ancient Sri Lankan culture, rated as the best artistic and cultural marvels. These are mostly found at the entrances to Buddhist temples and are considered features of religious importance.
Splendor of Anuradhapura was narrated by Fa-Hien, the Chinese Buddhist scholar pilgrim who visited Sri Lanka and spent two years in Anuradhapura in the fourth century BC. Anuradhapura is a must visit city by any tourist.
A few sites that can be seen in Anuradapura
Thereafter, make the short journey to Mihintale, situated about 12 kilometers east of Anuradhapura. According to chronicles, Mihintale had been the site of a meeting between Arhat Mahinda Thera and King Devanampiyatissa which led to the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. With the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Mihintale served as a residential area for monks headed by Arhat Mahinda. There are ruins of many ancient buildings at Mihintale such as monastic buildings and an ancient hospital. The great stairway which leads up the Mihintale Mountain has 1840 rock cut steps with some steps carved into the natural rock. There is a Lion Pond (Sinha Pokuna in Sinhala) amidst the ruins of a monastic building. This pond has been built into a natural rock with water channeled from a pond situated at a higher elevation and the water is discharged through the mouth of a life-size lion carved onto a rock wall.
Mihintale is a place of utmost importance to Sri Lankan Buddhists as it is where Buddhism was established in Sri Lanka.
Upon completion, you will be brought back to your hotel in Sigiriya.
Overnight at your selected hotel in Sigiriya
Approx. distance – 61 km / transfer time: 1.5 to 2 hours
After breakfast visit the famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Sigirya rock is a pleasure palace of King Kashayapa from where he ruled Sri Lanka. Sigiriya was a hideout of the King (to protect himself from his half brother Prince Mugalan, the legal heir to the throne). There had been a city in the surrounding area of the fortress. After King Kashayapa was defeated by his brother, Sigirya was inhabited by Buddhist monks. The site was later abandoned. It was rediscovered by the British in 1828.
Sigirya is a mysterious rocky outcrop rising from the central plains with ruins of an ancient civilization, the focal point of a short-lived kingdom in Sri Lanka. To reach the top of Sigirya, you have to climb a series of vertiginous stairs attached to walls.
Sigirya Rock is the remains of a hardened magma plug from a volcano and was formed about two billion years ago when the area was rife with active volcanoes. There are numerous granite boulders around Sigiriya which are remnants of the lava that have flown from the volcano.
Sigirya is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On completion of Sigiriya tour proceed to Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa is situated in the north-central region of Sri Lanka. It was the capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura Kingdom. It is a well-planned archaeological relic site in Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa is home to Parakrama Samudraya (sea of King Parakrama), a huge reservoir built during King Parakramabahu I era (1153 – 86). Polonnaruwa is symbolic of the rich, culture and civilization of ancient Sinhalese with its numerous palaces, temples, statues, ponds and museums. Polonaruwa has monumental ruins of a magnificent garden city created by King Parakrmabahu I. There are also Brahmanic monuments built by Cholas in Polonnaruwa.
The beauty and tranquility of Polonnaruwa was featured in the Duran Duran’s music video “Save a Prayer” in 1982.
Polonnaruwa was a declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
A few sites that can be seen in Polonnaruwa:
On completion of the tour, return to your hotel.
Overnight at your selected hotel in Damubulla
Approximately 22 kilometers and 30 minutes travel time
After breakfast, travel to Dambulla
Dambulla is home to the Golden Temple also known as Dambulla Cave Temple Complex, an iconic image with its interior full of Buddha Statues. Dambulla Cave Temple Complex is the best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. These cave temples were occupied by Buddhist monks in the past. There are 2000 year old murals depicting the life of the Buddha in this Cave Temple Complex. The vividly colored murals on the walls and ceiling cover an area of 2100 meters. These paintings are the largest ancient paintings in the world.
Dambulla was designated a World Heritage Site in 1991.
Thereafter, proceed to the airport (approximately 130 kilometers. Transfer time is 3.5 to 4 hours) to catch your flight back home or travel to your selected beach resort.