Whilst Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming a beach destination in its own right, visiting this culturally rich country and not exploring the interior in some way would almost be a crime. Whether it’s day tour to Kandy, a 3-day mini-tour to the cultural triangle towards the north of the island or a complex itinerary incorporating all of the main cultural sites, you simply must experience some of the interior.
The so-called Cultural Triangle, stretching north from the Sinhalese capital Kandy in the centre of the island, incorporates a number of great ancient sites including Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and the village of Habarana. Visiting these sites can easily be done over a few days and using Habarana or Sigirya as a base is the best way to experience the area as a number of excellent quality yet authentic hotels can be found here.
The medieval capital Polonnaruwa contains an incredible number of intricate rock sculptures. Perhaps the most famous is Gal Vihara, where three figures of the Buddha have been carved out a cliff-face of granite including a 14-metre carving of a reclining Buddha. Just to the west of Polonnaruwa you will find the awe-inspiring and somewhat magical rock outcrop known as Sigiriya. Towering 180m above the forest below, and featuring a number of gardens, elegant pavilions and a pool at the summit, the sheer size and dominance of Sigiriya Rock is breathtaking in itself. The caves at Dambulla are located at the crossroads of the Cultural Triangle and should be given equal attention to the sites mentioned above. The most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka, located under a vast overhanging rock, is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists and houses many intricately painted sculptures.
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