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The Cultural Triangle


The Cultural Triangle is the name given to an area about four or five hours’ drive north east of Colombo. It encompasses Sigiriya, Dambulla and Polonnaruwa, all sites of great importance in Sri Lanka’s history. Your chauffeur guide will have a ticket permitting entrance to all three which can be used over a few days. Each site has its own appeal and it is definitely worth seeing them all. Whilst you are in the area, we recommend using one hotel as a base.


One of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities, Polonnaruwa thrived between the 11th and 13th centuries. There is much evidence of the way of life with a palace, temples, baths and an audience hall, all pointing to a sophisticated and organised population. Your guide will point out the elegantly carved moonstones, Buddhas and friezes around the base of some of the more important buildings. A short distance away are five magnificent Buddhas, carved from the bedrock in the standing, sitting and sleeping positions. Due to its size, you will need at least half a day to explore Pollonaruwa properly.


Sigiriya Rock towers over its surrounding landscape and is one of the most recognisable images of Sri Lanka. The story of the rock is equally dramatic with tales of patricide and a guilty son fleeing to this spot for safety. His fort was constructed on top of the rock and reached via a pathway decorated with exotic dancing girls. Some of the frescoes and the lion’s paws can still be seen today. The climb to the top is fairly strenuous, however, the halfway point is accessible for most. Only the foundations of the original 5th century fort are left on the top but the views of the symmetrical gardens and the countryside below are excellent.

Dambulla Caves

This illuminating insight into Buddhism in Sri Lanka dates to the 1st century BC. Each of the caves contains a collection of Buddhas carved from the stone. Some are life sized whilst others depict the sleeping Buddha on a giant scale. Every statue as well as the cave walls and ceilings is ornately decorated in brilliant colours. It is still visited by devoted Buddhists who come to ask for blessings and at certain times of day the caves are closed for the monks’ private worship.

Minneriya National Park

At the centre of the Cultural Triangle is a charming national park famed for its sizeable population of wild elephant. At certain times of year, during the dry seasons when water supplies are low, you may see large herds coming to the central water source to drink and bathe. Seeing a whole herd together is a magical experience as you begin to observe the relationships between the animals with mothers, aunties and elder siblings protecting the young at all times. A private jeep can be organised from the gate and a safari will last several hours.



Vil Uyana, Sigiriya

Prices on request

The Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka
Located only five kilometres from Sigiriya, Vil Uyana has stunning views of the rock. It is the first in Sri Lanka to offer guests an over water villa. Similar in essence to those found in the Maldives, the seven thatched villas have been built over reed beds and around lakes which were created as part of the hotel’s ecological programme.


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This classic journey around Sri Lanka is ideal for first time visitors as well as having many gems to discover for those returning several times. After a night to acclimatise outside Colombo, immerse yourself in the Cultural Triangle, staying in view of the majestic Sigirya Rock, on which your guide will accompany you as high as you are comfortable climbing.

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Located off the southern tip of India, the island of Sri Lanka combines ancient temples and palaces, ornate Buddhist shrines, and charming colonial architecture, but it is the warm welcome and delicious cuisine – tropical fruits, coconut curries, fiery sambals, and fresh seafood – which linger in the memory.

Accommodation options in The Cultural Triangle

Use the map to pin point our accommodation and find the hotel in just the right spot for your short break or tailormade holiday

To make an enquiry please speak to one of our experts on 020 7593 2288, or enquire online

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.