Cultural Triangle

Sites and Attractions

Gal Vihara Complex

Just to the north, the Gal Vihara ("Stone Shrine"), represents the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving. The four Buddha statues here, all carved from…

  • Polonnaruwa

The Quadrangle

A couple of hundred metres north of the Royal Palace Group stands the Quadrangle — originally, and more properly, known as the Dalada Maluwa ("Terrace…

  • Polonnaruwa

The rest of the Quadrangle

The remainder of the Quadrangle is packed with a dense assortment of buildings of enormous variety and interest (though none approaches the flamboyance of the…

  • Polonnaruwa

North of the Quadrangle

The road between the Quadrangle and the Northern Group runs through attractive light woodland and past a scatter of minor monuments. The most interesting is…

  • Polonnaruwa

Ratna Prasada and Guardstone

This is the Chapter house of the Abhayagiri Vihara Complex built by King Kanitta Tissa (192-194 AD). Until recently this site was called the elephant…

  • Abhayagiri Monastery
Ratna Prasada and Guardstone

The Water Gardens

The whole water gardens complex offers a good example of the hydraulic sophistication achieved by the ancient Sinhalese in the dry zone: after almost 1500…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The Water Gardens

The summit

After the tortuous path up, the summit seems huge. This was the site of Kassapa's palace, and almost the entire area was originally covered with…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The summit

The Sri Maha Bodhiya

The Sri Maha bodhiya is perhaps the oldest living tree in the world. Around 245 BC, Sanghamitta Theri brought with her a branch of the…

  • Mahavihara Monastery
The Sri Maha Bodhiya

The Sigiriya Frescoes

The portrayal of the damsels is strikingly naturalistic, showing them scattering petals and offering flowers and trays of fruit — similar in a style to…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The Sigiriya Frescoes

The Mirror Wall

Just past the damsels, the pathway runs along the face of the rock, bounded on one side by the Mirror Wall. This was originally coated…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The Mirror Wall

The Boulder Gardens and Terrace Gardens

Beyond the Water Gardens the main path begins to climb up through the very different Boulder Gardens, constructed out of the huge boulders which lie…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The Boulder Gardens and Terrace Gardens

Samadhi Statue

Samadhi Statue, in the Abhayagiri Monastery, is one of the best pieces of sculpture on the site. It is Sri Lanka’s most well-known and respected…

  • Abhayagiri Monastery
Samadhi Statue

Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

Shining like a beacon in this ancient kingdom the Ruwanwelisaya is by far the most beautiful of the stupas in Anuradhapura. Built by the great…

  • Mahavihara Monastery
Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

Royal Palace Group

At the heart of the ancient city lie the buildings of the Royal Palace Group, created by Parakramabahu and used by subsequent kings of Polonnaruwa…

  • Polonnaruwa

Abhayagiri Stupa

One the the three great Stupas in Anuradhapura (together with Ruwanweliseya and Jethawanarama), Abhayagiri was built by King Valagambahu in the 1st Century BC. It…

  • Abhayagiri Monastery
Abhayagiri Stupa

Cave 1 – Cave of the Divine King

The first cave is called Devaraja lena (lena in sinhalese meaning cave), or "Cave of the Divine King." An account of the founding of the…

  • Dambulla Cave Temples
Cave 1 - Cave of the Divine King

Mirisaveti Stupa

King Dutugamunu after defeating the invading South Indian King Elara, built the Mirisaveti Stupa. After placing the Buddha relics in the scepter, he had gone…

  • Anuradhapura
Mirisaveti Stupa

Mahasena’s Palace and Moonstone

The structure’s name - Mahasena’s Palace, after the 3rd century ruler — is a misnomer. It is actually a monastic residential complex, one of the…

  • Abhayagiri Monastery
Mahasena’s Palace and Moonstone

Lovamahapaya

Supposed to have housed nine stories this building would one have been very impressive with a copper roof is unfortunately now only reduced to around…

  • Mahavihara Monastery
Lovamahapaya

Lion Platform

Continuing up the rock, a flight of limestone steps climbs steeply up to the Lion Platform, a large spur projecting from the north side of…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Lion Platform
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