A cultural tour in Sri Lanka unwraps the history of the country and the cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are the key cultural sites anyone ought to start with.
Anuradhapura, the first kingdom and also the most sacred city in Sri Lanka is a great example for excellent town planning. The city was planned by King Pandukabhaya and human settlement commenced on the river banks of Malwathu Oya.
When Buddhism instilled in the island, Anuradhapura turned to be the homage of the country. Sri Maha Bodhi, the tree that provided shelter to Lord Buddha throughout his enlightenment is the the largest and the oldest of the many Bo trees in the enclosure. Number of huge dagabas including Ruwanweli Mahaseya, Jethavanaramaya and Abhayagiriya were built by rulers of the era , disclosing their loyalty towards Buddhism. Further with the intention of improving the living standards of people monarchs of the Anuradhapura period built huge water reservoirs including Kala wewa, Tissa wewa, Basawakkulama for irrigation purposes.
Currently still among the largest cities of Sri Lanka, accommodation in Anuradhapura ranges from five star hotels to tranquil home stays.
Moving on to the second capital in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa, which is approximately a two hour drive from Anuradhapura, is the best example to show the Hindu influence on the Sinhala art and culture.
The Hindu influence of the era is observable through the moonstones of the Polonnaruwa era, with its removal of the image of the bull as it is a sacred animal in Hinduism.
The stone sculptures of Gal Viharaya (the uniquely carved Buddha statues), Vatadage, Atadage, Hatadage the statue of King Parakarmabahu, the Royal Palace etc highlights the masterpiece of Sinhala art.
If you wish to have a bit of adventure after the study tour in Polonnaruwa, you could go on a safari to Minneriya National Park. If it is in September you will be more lucky to witness the , the largest elephant gathering in Asia.
As Sigiriya is approximately a 30 minute’ drive from Minneriya National Park, you could easily make the safari and climb Sigiriya Rock on the same day.
The rock citadel of Sigiriya built by King Kassapa to be safe from his brother Moggallana’s attacks during the war time for kingship, shows an exquisite garden planning on its summit. The engineers to date are surprised at the irrigation system applied by the King Kassapa to get water for the pools on the rock summit from the tanks below at an era of lesser technology and science.
The Mirror wall and the Sigiriya frescoes are other important highlights in Sigiriya. It was said, that these damsels with flowers in the paintings are the queens of King Kassapa who were en route to Pidurangala temple located in close proximity. The archaeologists have found that these paintings are similar to the frescoes of Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra , India.
Lodging in Sigiriya or Dambulla for two nights is recommended as the cities are located in the middle if you wish to visit Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya.Yoho bed properties in Sigiriya and Dambulla with all the required facilities at reasonable rates would definitely offer you comfortable lodging for the two nights.