*ANURADHAPURA*- is the most celebrated of Sri Lanka’s ancient ruined cities. The city’s greatest treasures are its dagabas constructed of small sun-dried bricks and hemispherical in shape. The most notable of these dagabas are the Ruvanveli, which dates back to the 2nd Century BC and is 300ft in diameter; the Jetawanarama is 370ft and the Thuparama which enshrines the collarbone of the Buddha. The city’s most renowned relic is the sacred Bo-Tree which is said to have grown from a branch of the tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. It was planted 2250 years ago and is the oldest historic tree in the world.
Visit * Monuments at Anuradhapura – including the Old stone bridge, Western monasteries, Asokaramaya, Alms Hall at Abayagiriya, the Museum, Royal Palace (old) Temple of the Tooth Relic, Vessagiriya caves, Sacred Bo Tree, Ruwanveliseya, Isurumuniya, Jetawanaramaya, Abhayagiriya and the Thuparama dagabas.
Polonnaruwa is the Island’s 2nd largest kingdom. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned Archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers. Its beauty and serenity was captured in the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The Lankathilaka temple and a colossal statue of the lord Buddha made from stone is located here.
* SIGIRIYA – is a “World Heritage Site” and the 5th Century “Fortress in the Sky” which is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder of the Island. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600-foot high rock. On its summit are the foundations of the Royal Palace, Water Tanks to supply water and all other buildings and at the edges the guardhouses. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survived in the form of Frescoes of 21 life sized damsels still shining in their original colors. The Water Gardens, Fountain Garden, Summerhouses, Boulder Gardens and the Caves within the enclosed area should not be missed.
*DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLES* – is a vast isolated rock mass 500 feet high and a mile around the base. Here is found the famous RockTemple dating to the First Century B.C. The caves of Dambulla sheltered King Walagamba during his 14 years of exile from Anuradhapura. When he regained the throne he built the most magnificent of Rock Temples to be found in the Island.In the first Cave is a recumbent image of the Buddha 47ft long cut out of the Rock. There are images of deities associated with Buddhism all around. The frescoes on the walls and the ceiling are the oldest here but they are over painted in the Kandy period.In the Second Cave, the finest and the largest of all, there are 150 life-size statues of the Buddha in various postures with few statues of Gods and Kings. The ceiling is also covered with frescoes, which depict great events in the life of the Buddha and landmarks in the history of the Sinhalese people.