Endless beaches, panoramic tea gardens, oodles of wildlife, delectable cuisines, iconic temples and ruins; Sri Lanka is a gem waiting to be discovered. Don’t be fooled by the size of this island country; rich in culture and bursting with diversity, Sri Lanka is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tarana Arora tells us all about Top 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, each so unique and seeped with heritage, it’ll captivate the traveller in you.
Soaring high at 660 feet, the majestic Sigiriya or the Lion’s Rock is an architectural marvel. It was built as a sky palace by King Kasyapa in the 5th century. The essence of Sigiriya lies at its pinnacle with ruins that offer visitors a glimpse of ancient civilisation in addition to spell-binding views. With colourful frescoes along the way, a mirror wall and the imposing lion’s paws carved at the bedrock, the citadel of Sigiriya will truly amaze you.
#2 Sacred City Of Anuradhapura
To experience the richness of Sri Lankan culture, a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura is a must. The sacred city is said to have seen the genesis of Buddhism and the Sri Lankan civilisation. The many monasteries, colossal stupas, ancient temples here are some of the most well preserved architectural gems in South Asia.
#3 Ancient City Of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was the capital of ancient Sri Lanka for more than 800 years and here, one can feel the grandeur of past eras through glorious archaeological treasures. So, hop on to a bicycle and explore the rare tombs, spectacular stupas, statues, and crumbling temples of Polonnaruwa. That’s the best way to do it!
#4 Golden Temple of Dambulla
The Golden Temple of Dambulla, also popularly known as ‘Dambulla Cave temple’, is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s best preserved temple complex. Sprawling across five caves, the holy complex dates back to the 1st century. It is the 157 Lord Buddha statues, ornate carvings and exquisite paintings that make the temple spectacular in every way.
#5 Old Town Of Galle & Its Fortifications
A painter’s muse, a photographer’s dream and a writer’s inspiration; the old town of Galle will charm you with all its vibrancy. Built by the Dutch in 1663, Galle is one of the most romantic tourist spots in Sri Lanka. The main attraction of the quaint little town is its scenic fort, which is surrounded by the ocean on three sides. Stylish hotels, quirky cafes and European architecture with South Asian flavours make Galle a postcard-perfect town.
#6 Sacred City Of Kandy
Surrounded by lush rain forests and infinite tea gardens, Kandy will seduce you with its beauty. The Temple of the Tooth Relic is one of the holiest shrines in Sri Lanka, because it holds the last surviving relic of Lord Buddha. Kandy is also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.
#7 Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which translates to the ‘Lion Kingdom’ was declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1989. The only undisturbed rain forest of the island, it is home to the purple-faced Langur, birds like Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo, the noisy Orange-billed Babbler, Red-Faced Malkoha, Green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.
#8 Central Highlands Of Sri Lanka
The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka captures the imagination of visitor with its sheer beauty. The highlands comprises the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, including Adam’s Peak, Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Range. Adam’s Peak is the centre of focus for Buddhist pilgrims as it is believed that one of the rocks here hold the imprint of Lord Buddha’s foot.
Did you know the small island nation of Sri Lanka boasts of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Its ancient culture can be discovered through intricate details on legendary temples, some of which are perched on peaks while others take shelter in ancient caves.
Location: Located in the Indian Ocean between India and Maldives.
How to Reach: There are three international airports in Sri Lanka, Bandaranaike
International Airport in Colombo, Ratmalana Airport in Colombo, and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota.
Official Language: Sinhalese, Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Time Zone: SLST (UTC+05:30)
Climate: Tropical Climate
Food & Drink: Fish Curry Rice, Jackfruit Curry, Sri Lankan Dhal, Kottu.
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Tarana Arora is a producer and journalist by profession. A resident of Pune, she loves everything about the charming city. Nothing excites her more than food and exploring new places. She lives for thrillers, chocolates and Rafael Naḍal.