8 Beautiful UNESCO Sites in Sri Lanka – A Perfect Blend of Culture & Nature
Sri Lanka, an absolute blessed nation rich in culture and diversity is one of Asia’s richest treasure troves of both man-made and natural wonders. Owning heritage sites in a country is undoubtedly a pride to its nation. UNESCO sites are selected considering the historical value and anthropological importance in the particular heritage site. Sri Lanka dubbed as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” homes to six historical sites and two natural wonders. For those who are planning your next trip? Yes! Sri Lanka is certainly your next holiday getaway.
1.Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
A thriving commercial and religious centre in Sri Lanka was the second largest kingdom of our prestigious history. Declared as an UNESCO site in 1982 was built in the 12th century by famous King Parakramabahu I. This city is rich in its splendid medieval architecture, fabulous irrigation facilities, monuments, Hundreds of tombs, temples, ruins and many more which it makes a unique archaeological site. This is recognized as one of the best planned archaeological sites in the country which also attracted the Buddhist pilgrims around the world. Most of the monuments you find in Polonnaruwa are carved with different unique features such as lions, lotuses and lot more which emphasize our glorious heritage and culture. One of the significant attractions amongst the ruins in Polonnaruwa is the beautiful milk white Dagoba also known as the Kiri Vihara which was built seven hundred years ago is still an unspoiled fascination. The enormous Buddha images carved in to long slab of granite, the audience hall in the royal palace, the king’s swimming pool with crocodile mouths spouts are some magnificent attractions you would come across in Polonnaruwa. Check our 5 day Tour of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle to tour around Polonnaruwa.
2.The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
This rocky outcrop which was built in the form a lion is a palace built by King Kasapa that was later declared as an UNESCO heritage site in 1988. According researches it is found that this rock is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano. This magnificent palace consist of mesmerizing marvels which was often referred to the 8th wonder of the world. The top of this rock is reachable by climbing up a spiral metal stairway which is built on one side of the rock. Once you reach the top of the rock you would come across old landscaped gardens, ponds and pools made out using unbelievable hydraulic technology, the most famous Sigiriya frescoes (the beautiful ladies festooned with fine jewellery and garments) and the mirror wall which was a white masonry parapet wall back then used by many travels to inscribe their musings, which known as Known as the Sigiriya Graffiti at present. The final accent is quite difficult which is between two lion paws, is a large plateau carved in to the stone clearly represents the ingenuity of our ancestors. Check Sri Lanka travel deals covering Sigiriya rock fortress.
Anuradhapura 200 km from Colombo was the first capital in Sri Lanka. One of the largest and the oldest ancient cities it is still a sacred Buddhist centre. Homing one of the largest Bodhi trees which is believed to be a descendant of the Bodhi tree where Buddha was illuminated. Therefore Anuradhapura is undoubtedly the cradle of the ancient Sri Lankan civilization and the sacred centre of island’s Buddhism. This wealthy city which was rich in culture and history was one of the most stable and durable centres of political power in South Asia from 4th Century BC- 11th Century AC. Heaps of pilgrims visit Anuradhapura throughout the year site these brick stupas, Buddhist monasteries, crumbling temples and the picturesque gardens. This UNESCO heritage site is certainly a pride to our nation. Check our 5 day Tour of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle to tour around Anuradhapura.
4.Golden Temple of Dambulla
Being the centre amongst the attractions in Dambulla for the past 22 centuries the cave temple was declared as a world heritage site in 1991. This well preserved cave temple complex is built on a 600 foot high rock. It is a 15 minute walk uphill to reach the cave temple that you’ll be accompanied by cheeky monkeys along the way. The murals and the magnificent paintings on the ceiling and the walls of the cave illustrates Buddha’s temptation by Mara (demon) and Buddha’s first sermon is absolutely an exquisite work of art. Housing over 150 statues this cave temple is indeed a must visit archaeological site. You can also visit the Rangiri Dambulu Raja Maha Viharaya an active ritual centre consist of a tall Buddha statue on a stone lotus pedestal. The entrance to this temple is underneath a dragon-decorated archway depicts the talents of Sri Lankan architectures. Check our 5 day Sri Lanka vacation packages including Dambulla Cave Temple
5.The Dutch Ramparts in Galle
The famous Galle fort which was built by the Portuguese, later fortified by the Dutch is a historical town worth visiting. The Dutch churches, houses, hospitals, the maritime museum, the clock tower, the famous lighthouse and the hotels around are some of the famous landmarks that would remind you of the architecture in English movies. You may find many boutiques, photo studios, café’s and art galleries down the streets and cobblestone alleys which is indeed a lively city to spend your vacation. Seeing Galle on a flawless nightfall from the fortification walls at sunset shouldn’t be missed at any expense. Check our 14 day Sri Lanka vacation tours to tour in and around Galle, Sri Lanka.
6.The Royal City of Kandy
Kandy perceived as Sri Lanka’s cultural capital and home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, is one of Sri Lanka’s sacred cities. Surrounded by rich timberland and tea ranches, Kandy is a superb town roosted high in the hills of the island centre. It was believed that whoever held the relic holds the supremacy over the nation which was politically significant also thousands of devotees visit this sacred temple throughout the year to see the tooth relic which is enshrined in a golden casket. You can also visit the Sri Dalada museum which contains valuable gifts donated by different devotees. Temple of the tooth relic was later declared as an UNESCO Heritage site in 1988. Check Sri Lanka travel deals covering Kandy city tours.
The Central Highlands region encompasses three areas such as peak wilderness protected area, Horton plains national park and the knuckles conservation forest. Housing an incredible number of endemic species this region is considered as a super bio diversity hotspot. The cold climate than the rest of the island is indeed a haven for any nature lover. There are plethora of hiking trails in this region which invites the adventure seekers for some excitement. The tea plantations and the rushing waterfalls will bring you the feel of living in a British colonial atmosphere in a scenic hill town. Check our 4 day Knuckles Range Trekking tour.
8.Incredible Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja rainforest declared as an UNESCO heritage site in 1988 is the last remaining tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka. This forest which is situated close to Rathnapura area was also designated as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This biologically unique lowland is a place to sight many different species of birds, Varity of indigenous plants and animals. Ceylon Lorikeet, Layard’s parakeet, Jungle and Spur Fowl, Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Grey Hombill, Spotted wing Thrush, Rufous and Brown- capped are some of the endemic birds that can be only seen in Sinharaja. You may also spot rare amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and mammals such as the Purple-faced Langur in this evergreen forest. One shouldn’t miss to revitalize its self with the icy cold river water and the streamlets flowing through in the middle of the forest will make you regret leaving this enchanting paradise. Check our 3 day Sinharaja Rain Forest Tour.