Planning a visit to Sri Lanka? History buffs should definitely explore the three fascinating historical sites mentioned below. There’s more to the island than just tropical beaches.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Climb up the steep steps of the remnants of a 1,500-year-old rock fortress. Known as the Fortress in the Sky, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is often touted as the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Sigiriya, which resides in between the towns of Habarana and Dambulla.
Explore the water gardens, at its base, and then begin your journey up the 1250 steps of the fortress. The view from the top is simply gorgeous. On the way, you will encounter frescoes of women painted on the walls of the fortress. Their identities have not been confirmed, but one theory is that they are portraits of royal concubines.
It’s best to make this trip as early in the day as you can in order to avoid the harsh midday sun. Be sure to take lots of water, sunblock, and insect repellent with you. A hat to shield your head from the sun would also not go amiss.
Entry fees are LKR 50 for Sri Lankans and USD 30 for foreigners. If you are travelling on a budget, check out accommodation options such as Yoho Lion Road and Yoho Liyon Post Road. In return for attractive rates, you can enjoy a comfortable stay and free amenities such as air-conditioning and WiFi. To see more budget-friendly options in and around Sigiriya, follow this link.
Anuradhapura, an Ancient Capital
The city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province has a long-standing heritage spanning over 2,500 years. It is believed to have served as an ancient Sinhalese capital on the island for close to seven centuries. This makes it one of the oldest cities in the world which has been continuously inhabited.
Today, you can still see the ruins of an antique palace complex here. Explore the site and observe the advanced architectural and engineering skills of ancient Sri Lankans. The Twin Bathing Pools or Kuttam Pokuna, as they are called in Sinhalese, are a marvel of their time. They demonstrate that Sri Lanka’s inhabitants possessed an advanced mastery of hydraulic engineering for over a millennium.
Anuradhapura is a town of much import for Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Visit the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi, an ancient fig tree which is over two millennia old. According to local belief, it sprouted from a sapling of the very same tree below which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.
To take in all that this historic town as to offer, stopover here for a day or two. There are many budget hotels in Anuradhapura that you can stay at without breaking the bank.
Medieval Fortress of Yapahuwa
Take the road less travelled and journey to Yapahuwa, the former medieval capital of the Yapahuwa Kingdom . The rock fortress here is a lesser-known attraction that lives in the shadow of the more famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress. However, it’s truly worth beholding.
This 13th-century fortress, which also served as a royal palace, was built on a 90-metre high rock. Take in the sight of marvellously detailed stone sculptures and the well-preserved ornamental staircase. These magnificently crafted features, combined with the breath-taking views from the top, make it a worthy attraction to visit.
Yapahuwa is located between the towns of Anuradhapura and Kurunegala. While you’re staying in Anuradhapura, you can make a day trip to the fortress about a 1.5-hour drive away.