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. Polonnaruwa 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 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.

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