Although Sri Lanka is only a small island it surprisingly boasts eight UNESCO world heritage sights. This not only makes temple exploring in Sri Lanka exciting but easy too. With six different cultural sites to visit, these ancient monuments will keep you busy during your trip. Uncover lost worlds of treasures and ancient cultures on this beautiful island. So what are you waiting for? Take a look at these sites below:
Golden Temple of Dambulla
Marvel at the 157 statues in this sacred cave monastery, offering some of the most well-preserved items of this type of a temple. Most of the statues depict Buddha and the paintings are of Lord Buddha and his life. Visitors have been making a pilgrimage here since the 3rd century so of course, you need to visit and see the caves for yourself. It is best to take a day trip to the temple as there aren’t any other tourist attractions in the busy industrial town. You probably won’t want to spend a night here but the temple is so stunning you won’t want to miss it.
Kandy and The Temple of The Tooth
The temple of the tooth is found within the royal palace complex which houses the tooth relic of the Buddha. A celebrated temple and unique place to visit. Interestingly, it is believed that whoever holds the tooth relic governs the country! You can imagine the political problems this has caused in the past. There is a symbolic bathing of the Relic once a week, with an herbal mixture made from scented water and flagrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. The holy water produced from this ritual is said to have healing powers. Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily ritual worship three times a day in the inner chamber of the temple. If you only visit one temple on the island then this should be it.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Wandering around the ancient capital of Anuradhapura transports you into the past. It was built around the relic of a cutting from the Buddha’s fig tree, much like the city of Kandy and the tooth. Witness vibrant ceremonies amongst the massive dagobas, ancient landmarks, and crumbling temples. It’s a good place to stay too as the atmosphere of the place, although a town, has a very local feel and ambiance. As one of the world’s major archaeological sites, it should definitely be on your list when visiting Sri Lanka.
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
Passed from one Kingdom to another, there’s more than enough history here for visitors to enjoy. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archeological relic sites in the country. Find hundreds of statues, temples, and tombs to explore as well as an interesting place to stay for a couple of days. Why not hire a bike to get yourself around? It’s a great way to get about the expanse of the town and beyond. Many people like to combine a stay here with a visit to the local national parks which are full of roaming Elephants.
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications
This town has a European feel to it and once you know it was founded by the Portuguese and built by the Dutch you will see why. Situated on the coast, it used to be the main port of the island. Explore the religious buildings and structures of the town, amazingly built from locally sourced materials such as coral. You must stay in Galle, enjoy the boutique hotels, excellent local shopping and an ambiance you won’t want to leave. A haven in the country for foreign artists, writers, photographers and designers alike. One of the best bases to explore the island from is one of the many villas in Sri Lanka. You can find some lovely accomodation here in Galle
Palace and Fortress of Sigiriya
The genius of the ancient builders can be seen clearly amongst the remains of the palace and fortress here. When Temple exploring in Sri Lanka you can not miss a trip to the top of the sheer vertical rocks to see the ancient city that is left. Climb your way to through carvings, moats, gardens, and shrines. You’ll enjoy the journey as much as the view from the summit. Stunning Panoramas await you as you continue to the top and you’ll see why this destination was chosen for the building. Sigiriya is near to Dambulla and both places should be on your agenda to visit at the same time.
What Else Can You See in Sri Lanka?
You can visit two other UNESCO heritage sights in Sri Lanka, but these are spectacular natural places to visit. First you can see the central highlands of Sri Lanka which is considered a super biodiversity hotspot. Visit this area made up of the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest. Search for endangered plant and wildlife during your visit and enjoy the stunning environment. Secondly, you should check out the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Secondly, you should check out the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Make your way through the tropical rainforest, spotting rare plant life and vegetation. The reserve is home to over fifty percent of Sri Lanka’s endemic species. These include mammals and butterflies, as well as various insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Would you like to visit these natural wonders in Sri Lanka?
Have You Been Temple Exploring In Sri Lanka?
As you can see there are many options to add to your itinerary when planning your trip in Sri Lanka. There are many places in the world to discover amazing Temples such as Angkor in Cambodia and within the city of Bangkok in Thailand. Sri Lanka, however, is a unique place where ancient and mysterious buildings and artifacts await tourist discovery.
The small island is steeped in history and archeological gems. Whatever your reason to visit Sri Lanka, a religious pilgrimage, a place to relax or to explore the ancient history. There is plenty to see and do in this country. What do you think? Have you been temple exploring in Sri Lanka and what was your favourite destination?