Sri Lanka is home to sacred Buddhist temples, ancient cities and monuments dating back thousands years and has become a place of wonder for many of our Clients who somehow manage the time to include visits to cultural heartlands of the country. They are abundant with the rich Buddhist history of Sri Lanka and is a must for any traveler who wants to have a true cultural experience. Most of these ancient cities have been taken over by nature as the forests and jungles have reclaimed them. We here atELT will arrange highly experienced and informative guides so you can dive deep and learn the history of our culture in and out. Do not hesitate to consult with us to arrange a guide who speaks your language if you do wish.
Sigiriya is a town located in the ancient city of Dambulla in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is home to its main attraction, the majestic Sigiriya Rock Fortress which has been famously known as the 8th wonder of the world mainly due to its technological and innovative prowess. Built in the 5th century AD by King Kashyapa fearing an attack for the rightful heir to the throne Moggallana, Sigiriya was quite literally a fortress built on top of a rock 200m above. The name Sigiriya directly translates to “Lions Rock” and it has 1200 steps before you reach the top where you will surely be thrilled to see spectacular panoramic view it has to offer. It is safe to say that this is probably the most visited tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and it is advisable to include one of our experienced guides to talkto you through the in depth and shocking details behind this magnificent structure.
The ancient city of Anuradhapura is home to an extensive collection of astonishing archaeological wonders spanning around 1300 years of rule over Sri Lanka. Temple ruins, towering dagobas and ancient pools to name a few are some of the main attractions you can witness during your visit here.
Even to this day the city of Anuradhapura is considered one of the holy cities as several ancient sites remain as temples and holy retreats for the local population. The city is located approximately 205 kms from the capital Colombo, which is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet. One of the most astonishing facts about this city is the “Sri Maha Bodhi” which is said to be the oldest living tree in the world. This is a sacred Bo tree sampling brought to the country by Princess Sangamitta, daughter of King Ashoka of India during a time in which Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka.
Like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa (which is in relatively close proximity) too is an ancient city which is abundant with historic remains and it is most commonly referred to as the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka. In fact, it remained the capital of the country from 11th to 13th century. Special tours can be arranged with ease to obtain the knowledge to truly understand this ancient city of wonder and it is also common to explore the adjoining “new town” and “old town” which is approximately 6km away, on a bicycle which we would be more than happy to arrange for you. It is a familiar sight to see bus-loads of pilgrims from around the country visiting the stupas and monasteries. If you decide to experience the historical and cultural side of Sri Lanka, be sure to ask us to include this beautiful city in your itinerary.
Dambulla Cave Temples
The infamous cave temple of Dambulla sits 160m above in the southern part of the city and it commonly included during the trip to Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This cave temple is truly a work of art at it is home to 150 spectacular Buddha statues and painting across five separate caves. The first image of Buddha dates back 200 years and kings there on kept on adding new and more extravagant pieces as the centuries rolled on. Sigiriya rock can be clearly seen from the caves about 20kms away and the views of the countryside are absolutely breathtaking. One amazing fact about this cave temple is the large metal bowl placed inside the cave is was to collect the rain drops dripping from the roof. This was to provide an abundant supply of water even during the most severe droughts.
Located at the heart of the country, Kandy remains as one of the most visited cities in the country. An ancient city with a rich Buddhist history shelters the tooth of Lord Buddha, considered to be the most holy Buddhist relic. It is housed inside the “Temple of the Tooth” located in central Kandy right beside the man-made Kandy lake which gives a very peaceful ambience aided by the chilly and misty weather. If you happen to visit in August, one of the highlights is the Esala Perahera, a colorful pageant/parade that happens annually to paying homage in celebration of the tooth relic of Buddha. A methodical display of light and sounds with caparisoned elephants, fire dancers, drummers, pipers and many more provide a magical experience not to be missed. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, a short 5km away from the main city is also a popular stop amongst visitors.
The Galle Fort, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its major historical impact and importance in the country. The fort was initially built in the 16th century by the Portuguese during their reign over Sri Lanka and it was later taken over by the Dutch during their conquest in the 17th century and finally fell in the hands of the British stronghold. This area which is now considered as the “old town” of Galle was once a famous trading port for spices and other good which stood for more than 200 years. Our clients are welcome to experience the interesting history with one of our experience guides to dive head first into the backstories and enjoy some grub in the many gourmet restaurants the town has to offer.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Singharaja, a forest reserve located in the south-west lowland wet zone in Sri Lanka spanning across 18900 acres of land bordering the Galle, Matara and Ratnapura district. It is the largest remaining stretch of tropical rainforest and a biodiversity hotpot home to many endemic species of wildlife. Many customized expeditions can be arranged to fully experience the reserve whether it be a waterfall hunting to bird watching, learning about the countless endemic flora and fauna it is bound to be an informative and a fun experience. Mammals such as Elephant (a rare site) leopards, deer, and wild boar roam the reserve and glimpses can be seen while trekking this magnificent jungle reserve. It is believed to house over 50% of Sri Lanka’s wildlife including mammals, butterflies, and many kinds of insects, rare amphibians and reptiles.
Due to its important biodiversity impact it was named a Biosphere Reserve in 1978.