Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian ocean, which is only petite over 25,000 square miles, is an island that attracts many from all over the world. Besides, the wonderful tale of this little island runs back to 2500 years, which is more than two millennia of magnificent history and legend within a constant chain of chronological tradition. This country has a prosperous cultural legacy and is home to an extraordinary cultural medley of religious attractions, hermitages, palaces, fortresses, statues, caves, ancient capitals, eternal paintings, and holy mountains. Also, colonial-era edifices such as brilliant forts, railroad miracles, lighthouses, highborn villas, bridges, bungalows, industrial buildings, wartime mausoleums, and churches add an extra connotation to this cultural gem. So, with all treasures, we need not mention that there are many archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
Hence, we thought of focusing this read on appreciating the cultural and artistic values of these wonderful archeological sites on this splendid island. So, why not? Let’s begin our journey by exploring the archeological heritage of Sri Lanka.
Archeological Heritage of Sri Lanka
Archaeological evidence, the proofs from the study of human being’s history with the assistance of his artifactual remains and antiquities, shows that Sri Lanka was home to old stone age people (Paleolithic) from around 300,000 BP. Solid testimony indicates prehistoric resolutions by about 125,000 BP. Also, it is not a secret that the “Balangoda Manawaya”, a cluster of Mesolithic hunters, possibly the first modern dwellers of the country, resided in caves on the island (Fa-Hien, Beli-lena, Batadombalena, Nilgala , Alawala ,etc.) during the period earlier to 34,000 BC.
However, according to archaeology, Prince Vijaya (543 – 505 BCE) is the first-ever King of Sri Lanka. Yes, he was the founder of the Kingdom of Tambapanni, the earliest kingdom in Sri Lanka. Besides, the royal dynasty continued till King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last king from the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, the Kingdom of Kandy. And yes, the archeological sites in Sri Lanka that you get to know through this read, covers a wide span of time, belonging to different epochs of this wonderful history.
Archeological Sites in Sri Lanka
So, by now, you clearly know that Sri Lanka is a gem sacred with a wealth of archaeological heritage. One can observe a massive number of archaeological memorials in every corner of this island. These memorials tell the tale of the residents and their trip beyond victory and failure. They are reticent yet strong witnesses of Sri Lanka’s uniqueness and heritage.
You can find below some of those significant highlights among the archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
- Dimbulagala Raja Maha Viharaya
- Abhayagiri Viharaya
- Awukana Buddha Statue
- Samadhi Buddha Statue
- Ketchchimalai Mosque
- Kataragama temple
- Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
- Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
- Galle Fort
- Batatotalena Cave
- Jaffna Fort
- Kadurugoda Vihara
- Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
- Kuttam Pokuna
- Kanniya Hot water spring
- Gadaladeniya Vihara
- Temple of the Tooth
- Aluvihare Rock Temple
- Dambulla cave temple
- Pidurangala Vihara
Of course, you might be excited to know more about these wonderful archeological sites in Sri Lanka. Keep calm! The briefs below would provide you with a great overview with regard!
1. Dimbulagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Dimbulagala, the historical temple, rests about 12 miles away from the southeast of Polonnaruwa, the ancient kingdom at the magnificent hilly range – Udumbara, also popular as Dimbulagala. Walking back many centuries there is a belief that Prince Pandukabhaya lived here with Swarnapali in this stone cave. Also, chronicles reveal that his two most trustworthy demons, Chitra Raja and Kala Vela Senadhipathies, afforded them much in human shape.
Besides, Dimbulagala Vihara has served as a religious institution for millennia, and then as a Shooter’s Rock (Gunners Quoin) throughout the British colonization period. Further, the Dimbulagala hill range also known as “Dola Pabbatha” shelters several caves slashed into the rock with Brahmi writings over their drip ledges. This Buddhist hermitage was abandoned and hidden through the thick forest after the falling of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom. Still, owing to the efforts of many of our monks, and the Kithalagama Sri Seelalankara Thera, who was the Vihara’s chief incumbent, this place now stands in its current status.
2. Abhayagiri Viharaya
Abhayagiri Viharaya, one of the largest stupas in the world (with a height of 74.98m) stands majestically in the sacred city of Anuradhapura. Further, as per history, this large stupa is a work of King Walagamba ( 103 BC, 89-77 BC). However, in the past, Abhayagiriya was one of the major heritage sites of Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana Buddhism. Moreover, Abhayagiri viharaya is one of 16 religious units in Anuradhapura and the biggest of its five main viharas.
The name “Abhayagiri Vihara” indicates not only a monastic building complex, but also a community of Buddhist monks, which holds its own historical and chronological records, beliefs, traditions, and manner of lifestyle. It had grown and developed into a global institution by the era of 1st century AD and then onwards it was a magnet of attracting scholars and intellectuals from every and each part of the world and embracing and polishing all shades of Buddhist studies and philosophy. Besides, this massive stupa consists of brilliantly sculpted moonstones from the 7th to 8th century, breathtaking bathing ponds, and intricately shaped balustrades. And yes, this happens to be one of the most important archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
3. Aukana Buddha Statue
This is the tallest Buddha Statue in Sri Lanka with a height of 11.36 meters. This sacred statue is located near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka. Further, this Awukana Buddha statue in ‘Asisa Mudra’ or the ‘posture of blessing’ ‘ is a sculpture of granite rock boulders with its history running back to the 5th century. However, it is an impressive work that exhibits the perfect talents of the creator.
The delicate and dexterous sculpting of the Lord Buddha’s robe personifies and indicates the underlying form of his body decently. The face’s emotionless expression anticipates a feeling of spiritual superiority. Further, there is a belief that the alignment degree of this magnificent statue is such that a raindrop on the nose would drop straight down to a small dip shaped between the toes.
Moreover, as per chronicles, this masterpiece has come up as an end result of a battle between a master and one of his students, during the rule of King Dhathusena. However, the sacred Awukana Statue is now a tourist attraction of Sri Lanka, with much value.
4. Samadhi Buddha Statue
The world-famous Samadhi Buddha Statue is at Mahamevnawa Uyana in Anuradhapura. It depicts Lord Buddha in the Dhyana Mudra position, the position of meditation associated with ‘Nirvana’, his first Enlightenment. Accordingly, the Buddha sits cross-legged with his overturned palms laid one over the other on his lap.
As per history, it belongs to the 3rd century. It is a statue of dolomite marble and stands 2.21 meters in height. Further, the statue’s eyes are muffled, signifying they were fascinated with crystal or some kind of a precious stone in the past.
And one of the interesting facts about this statue is that when someone looks at the face of this buddha statue from three sides it shows 3 different characteristics. They are as follows.
- Glancing at the outline of the face from left and right it shows a slight and slender sadness and a vaguely smiling face on the other side.
- Seeing from the front, the face shows neutral or impartial features.
Beyond a doubt, this statue is one of the best carvings in the Anuradhapura era.
5. Ketchchimalai Mosque
This mosque, also popular as Kechchamalai Dharga, is on a cliff facing the port of Beruwala, on the Southwest coastline of Sri Lanka. Further, it is one of the oldest mosques on this island. History shows that this mosque is at the point where the first Muslim Arab merchants landed and consequently settled in the area. This ancient mosque on the Ketchchimalai hill has persisted for almost 800 years, growing magnificently in the scenery of the ocean.
However, the story behind this mosque is indeed interesting. There is an assumption that a boat carrying seven members (the Sultan Ashraff Waliullah, his five brothers, and a sister) of the Hadhramaut, Yemen’s royal family came ashore at this site. Besides, history says that this is the place where Waliullah’s burial took place. Owing to these reasons, huge numbers of Muslim pilgrims visit this mosque for the Eid al-Fitr festival that takes place at the end of Ramadan.
6. Kataragama Temple
Kataragama Temple is in the sacred town of Kataragama, Sri Lanka. However, even though we call it a temple, it is more like a complex of temples. Further, it is a place of devotion for Buddhist guardian god ‘Kataragama’ and ‘Murugan’, the war god of Hindus. Besides, this temple is a special place because it is one of the few sacred places in Sri Lanka that is special for devotees from many religions such as Buddhists, the Vedda tribe, Hindus, and Muslims.
A few decades back, It was a jungle tomb very tough to access. Yet, today it is approachable in many areas. Further, there are three sections of this temple:
- Kiri Vehera(Temple), managed by Buddhists
- Shrines or Kovila devoted to Shiva and Teyvāṉai, managed by Hindus
- Mosque by Muslims
Sri Lanka’s government proclaimed this complete temple complex as a sacred place in the 1950s. Since then, political parties, and devotees from all around the country sponsor for its maintenance, protection, and upkeep.
7. Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
The Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is the sacred place of a visit, during Lord Buddha’s first-ever visit to Sri Lanka, 9 months after attaining enlightenment. Thus, this place occupies a very significant and important place in the chronicle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The “Yaksha” clan was residing in Mahiyangana at the time. It says that the Lord Buddha conducted a discussion on Dhamma with them.
The head of that clan named Saman attained the first phase in liberation known as Sotapanna, after attending to the Buddha’s discussion on Dhamma. Then he asked for a special thing to remember as a token from Lord Buddha so that they could worship and pray in his absence. The Buddha handed him a few hair relics from his head. Later it was enshrined and protected by Saman in a small temple(stupa) 3.0 meters in height. This was the first stupa on this island during the life period of Lord Buddha. Later, Lord Buddha’s left shoulder bone was also enshrined in this stupa. The Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is also one of “16 Solosmasthana” (the sacred places) in Sri Lanka.
8. Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is one of the 16 sacred Buddhist temples belonging to the ‘Solosmasthana’ on the island, and one of the important archeological sites in Sri Lanka. Besides, it rests in Badulla, a town 22.7 km away from Ella. The stupa has a great history that runs back to the 5th century BC and has remained a popular fascination in the country for pilgrims and tourists.
It is said that the sacred jaw-bone is located in the Stupa. Lord Buddha had visited Sri Lanka three times after attaining Enlightenment. Accordingly, Muthiyangana is one of those three holy destinations. Besides, there were three major tribes in Sri Lanka, namely Yaksha, Deva, and Naga at that time. Lord Buddha was invited and requested to visit Badulla by the King of the Deva tribe. So, this stupa commemorates this incident, and according to myths, this stupa contains Buddha’s Mukthaka Dathu and his sacred hair.
9. Galle Fort
The Galle Fort, also popular as Dutch Fort, stands majestically in Galle Bay on the Southwest coastline of Sri Lanka. It was a reinforcement first built by the Portuguese in 1588. However, it was then significantly enhanced by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. This modification in the 17th Century made it into one of the most important and valuable archeological, historic, architectural, and extraordinary memorials to show the European impact in Southeast Asia in the 16th-18th Centuries.
UNESCO announced Galle Fort as a World Heritage in 1988 in the name of “Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications”. It includes an area of 52 hectares within the walls. A lighthouse mounted on the Utrecht bastion, and a tower constructed for the jubilee of Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1883 can be still seen here. Now it has become another kind of a fantasy world in the iconic city of Galle, and one of the wonderful archeological sites in Sri Lanka, thanks to the government.
10. Batatotalena Cave
Batatotalena Cave or Batathota Lena is a Buddhist cave temple that rests on a rocky mountainous forest in a tiny village called Batatota in Kuruwita, in the Rathnapura District, Sri Lanka. However, this temple was neglected in a thick jungle a few decades ago. Still, it has now become famous as one of the religious and sacred sites in the country.
According to the myths, this temple was a work of King Nishshankamalla (1178-1207) in the Polonnaruwa ruling period. The King had accidentally found the temple, on his way to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak). Then onwards, it had been taken in high respect, and Sri Lanka’s Buddhist community has honored it with much devoutness. In order to visit this temple, people have to travel 7kms on a narrow and slight Erathna-Kuruwita road that runs to Adam’s Peak. Still, hundreds of travelers and pilgrims visit this site every day with great devotion, enthusiasm, and respect.
11. Jaffna Fort
The legendary Dutch Fort in Jaffna was a great modernization of the Portuguese who constructed it in 1618. Further, Dutch seized the Galle Fort in 1680 and re-constructed it. The fort is situated near Karaiyur. Besides, the 400-year-old fort structure is an emblem of Dutch architecture and construction, which was designed in a pentagon shape.
The inside of the Fort has buildings and constructions such as the Dutch Reformed Church, Dutch Lieutenant Governor’s residence, police residences, military barracks, courthouse, powder periodicals, warehouses, guardrooms, and a jail become mere stone fragments. This was garrisoned by a unit of the Ceylon Army due to the existence of only military and government buildings within its fortifications. So, this marvelous Fort is a lasting heritage of the country’s colonial history, and today a naval legacy.
12. Kadurugoda Vihara
The Kadurugoda Viharaya, also known as Kantarodai, holds a valuable place in Sri Lanka’s history that goes back to the Anuradhapura era. Accordingly, Sangamitta theri arrived at Dambakolapatuna in Sri Lanka with a sample of Sri Maha Bodhi, during the ruling period of King Devanpiyathissa. As per the belief, the path to Anuradhapura from Dambakolapatuna was all the way through this Viharaya, and before reaching Anuradhapura she visited and worshiped this temple.
In 1977, Paul. E. Pieris has done the first archaeological mine on this site. During his excavations, he discovered the remains of several Buddha images, coins, a shrine room, 60 large and small fragments of peaks of Stupas, some tiles, and stone pieces with footprints of Lord Buddha’s foot from the site. So, this historical value, coupled with the religious values of this site, makes it one of the important archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
Isurumuniya is a Buddhist temple located nearby Tissa Wewa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. King Devanampiyathissa has built and developed this amazing Temple. Further, Isurumuniya Temple was created for the high caste children who were appointed as Buddhist monks, according to the written statements and figures.
There are four 6th Century Gupta-style stone carvings that are of exceptional importance in this Vihara. They are as follows, and their artistic values are highly appreciable.
- Isurumuniya pem yuwala(lovers) carving – The woman in the statue, seated on the man’s lap, lifts a word of warning finger, probably as an expression of her shyness; but the man holds on regardless. History assumes that the statue signifies Dutugemunu’s son Saliya and the low cast servant Asokamala whom he was in love with.
- Royal Family– Considered to be King Dutugemunu’s royal family.
- The man and the horse head– Statue shows a seated man and the head of a horse behind him and it is a very famous and eminent work of art. It is believed that this is the God of Rain ‘Varuna’, and his horse ‘Agni.’
- Elephant Pond – A “Pallawa” tradition carving. It illustrates likenesses to the elephant figures in “Mamallapuram” In India.
14. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
The Sacred Bo-tree (fig tree); Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya of Anuradhapura, is the oldest living and dwelling tree in the recorded history of the world. Further, it is believed that this is the right-wing branch of the chronological Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India beneath which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. However, it was planted in 288 BCF and it remains the only living, human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. It was carried by the Sanghamitta Therini, a sister of Arhant Mahinda – who instituted the Teachings of the Buddha to this island.
Today it is one of the most sacred and valuable artifacts of Sri Lankan Buddhists and respected by Buddhists all over the world.
The Jethawanaramaya Dagoba’s gigantic arena climbs above the whole eastern part of the sacred city, Anuradhapura. This stupa was built by King Mahasena(273–301) during the Anuradhapura Kingdom. He started the creation of this massive stupa following the devastation of the Mahavihara. Further, his son Maghavanna I finished the construction of the Jetavanaramaya. Moreover, a part of a belt knotted by the Buddha is said to be the artifact that is cherished here.
Besides, the building is considered in the country’s history for it signifies the frictions within the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism sects. However, when it was constructed it was the third-tallest shrine in the ancient world. The height of the stupa is 122 m (400 feet). The building is no longer the tallest, but it is still the largest. The compound encompasses around 5.6 hectares and is expected to have accommodated 10,000 Buddhist monks.
16. Kuttam Pokuna
One of the best and amazing examples of bathing pools or tanks in ancient Sri Lanka is the pair of ponds known as Kuttam Pokuna. These twin pools are assumed to have been designed and built during the ruling period of King Aggabodhi (564-598 A. D). The two ponds are rectangular in shape and developed lower than the ground level. One of the ponds is smaller than the other and both are divided by a slender section.
Of course, these are believed to be one of the major accomplishments in the areas of exceptional architectural, hydrological engineering, and creative inventions of the ancient Sinhalese. Both ponds are still functional. Besides, in ancient times, the smaller pond was filled by a water supplier that came from the north. A cistern channel cleanses the water draining into the pond that had been connected with it. Further, the water is streamed into the pond through a stone fountain.
Besides, the artistic values of these ponds are immense. In fact, a monument portraying a five hooded Cobra (Naga) under the dragon arch(Makara Thorana) is created at pool premises. Yes, owing to all these reasons, it is believed to be one of the masterpieces of ancient designers.
Lovamahapaya is an amazing building with a set of ruins with hundreds and hundreds of stone pillars that can give credits to extraordinary ancient architectures and designers. Further, it is located between Ruvanweliseya and Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. It is also popular as Lohaprasadaya or the Brazen Palace because its roof contained bronze tiles.
The famous Brazen palace built by King Dutugemunu, defined as a structure of 9 stories, was a building of this group. In ancient times, this building consisted of a ‘danashala’ (alms hall) and ‘uposatha gara’ (hall at a temple). There was also a simamalake to perform the confessional sutra on Poya days. As per history, it took six long years for the creation of the building. The actual building was ruined during the ruling period of King Sadhatissa. Still, the ruins of this construction are still visible in this sacred city.
The blessed forest mountain Mihintale, also known as Missaka Pabbatha, is 13km away from the legendary city Anuradhapura. Earlier, the Lord Buddha had visited this beautiful location on his third arrival. Besides, this is the holy place where King Devanampiya Tissa met Arhat Mahinda Thero and his acquaintances, in 247 BC. This incident paved the way for the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Since this incident took place on a Poson poya day at Mihintale, this area holds a high festivity during the Poson festival. However, owing to all these reasons, this happens to be one of the most important and valuable places for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
With the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, this place started to provide a suburban area for the admired monks moved by Arahath Mahinda Mahathera. But soon, with the support of royal families, this heavenly place sheltered a collection of dhanashala,uposathgharas, and bodhigara in order to oblige monks. There are 68 cave residences that sheltered the monks in the past.
Mihinthale temple also signifies the ability of ancient architectures and designers. There are 1840 stone steps to the middle terrace area. The second row of steps starts from there to the Ambastala Stupa at the upper terrace. Also, the entry to the hermitage consists of Guard-Stones, steps, naga (cobra) figures, and Makara (dragon) balustrades. Climbing to Mihinthae would take approximately less than an hour, and make sure you visit it if you ever arrive at Anuradhapura.
Ruwanwelisaya, is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists all over the world, as it enshrines the largest collection of Lord Buddha’s relics. Moreover, it is a great example of the glorious architectural and engineering background of ancient Sri Lanka. The height of the Ruwanwelisaya is around 103m, the circumference is around 300m. Lord Buddha has visited this divine place during the three visits to Sri Lanka. Hence, Ruwanweliseya remains as one of the eight sacred places (Atamasthana) in the ancient Anuradhapura city.
Ruwanwelisaya is also popular in the names of Maha Thupa, Rathnamali Dagoba, and Swarnamali Chethiya. The great ruler, King Dutugamunu, after his great victory over King Elara, started designing and constructing the mighty Ruwanweliseya. However, he was unable to complete the work, as he felt ill, and passed away later. Therefore, King Dutugamunu’s brother completed the remains of Ruwanweliseya, making his wishes come true.
Thousands of locals and tourists visit Ruwanweli Maha Seya, as a pilgrimage and to explore the great history and architecture. It is indeed one of the great places to meditate and experience your inner peace. The best time to visit RuwanweliSeya is either early morning or in the afternoon, and that tranquility it offers is sure to surprise you.
Thuparama is the very first Stupa that came up after the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Thuparama Pagoda has a great historical value for all Sri Lankans. Further, this stupa belongs to the period of King Devanampiyatissa, during the Anuradhapura Kingdom. Besides, as this was the very first Stupa to be built by Sri Lankans, Mahinda Thero, who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka, directed at designing and constructing. So, it indeed holds with it some unique and significant features.
However, this stupa is not as big as other stupas in Sri Lanka. Still, it has a special and novel feature, popular as the ‘Vatadage’. In fact, it is actually a full-housed Stupa. It has a Roof and 176 stone pillars constructed around the Stupa. Unfortunately, the roof is not available to see now, and only the stone pillars are around the Stupa.
Thuparama temple is located in the Mahamewna Garden, in Anuradhapura. Therefore, anyone can visit and explore the first Stupa in Sri Lanka easily.
21. Kanniya Hot Water Spring
Kanniya hot water springs are located in the Trincomalee district in Eastern Province. There are seven wells, with different water at different temperatures. Thus, it is a very famous site among both locals and tourists. Besides, all the tiredness of your journey will vanish with a bucket of hot water from the hot water spring wells in Kanniya. There is also a belief that this natural hot water has the ability to cure some illnesses, such as arthritis.
According to the analysis of archaeologists, these hot water springs are a part of a complex of ponds, utilized by Buddhist monks of Buddhist Monastery’. However, if you visit the charming city of Trincomalee, a bath from each hot water well is a must!
22. Gadoladeniya Viharaya
Gadaladeniya Temple is an ancient monastery, on top of a rock in the surroundings of the scenic mountainous city, Kandy. Further, this temple is a work of King Buwanekabahu the Fourth, from the Kandyan Kingdom, the last ancient capital kingdom of Sri Lanka. Besides, the attractive details of this temple have an Indian influence, as the chief architect was from south India.
In the main shrine room, the seated Lord Buddha was settled, and there is a fascinating ‘Makara Thorana’. Moreover, these buildings are from quarry stones. Also, the paintings in the Gadaladeniya temple are only second to Sigiriya fresco. ‘ Gadoladeniya Viharaya’is also popular as ‘Saddarmathilake’ and ‘saddharmalankaraya’. It is one of the most interesting temples to visit due to its beautiful paintings, architecture, and history.
23. Temple of the Tooth Relic
Temple of Tooth Relic or ‘ Dalada-Maligawa’, in Kandy, is a world-famous religious and cultural attraction. Moreover, this sacred temple is actually a part of the palace of the Kingdom of Kandy. This temple shelters the left canine tooth of Lord Buddha for centuries. While the tooth relic has been kept inside a gold casket, tourists and devotees continuously visit the ‘Dalada Maligawa’ during the pooja to have a look at the inner shrine where it is kept. There are 4 special poojas every day to worship the sacred Tooth Relic.
Similarly, ‘Esala Perahera’ is one of the main attractions in the country. In fact, it is the festival in which the Tooth Relic is exhibited to the devotees, by carrying it in a decorated cascade on the back of an elephant, along the streets of Kandy. Also, it is one of the most colorful and sacred events in Sri Lanka. Thousands of people come from all over the world to witness the delight of this festival.
Besides, ‘Dalada-Maligawa’, or the Temple of the Tooth Relic, is a paradise for art and history lovers. In fact, there are several Kandyan arts all over the walls, which have deeper meanings. Also, UNESCO named it a world heritage site in 1988. So, owing to all these reasons, a visit to the Temple of Tooth Relic is a must, for anyone who is traveling to Sri Lanka.
24. Aluvihare Rock Temple
Aluvihare rock temple is another exciting place to explore, in the Matara district of Sri Lanka. There are about 13 caves which are more than 2300 years old, where monks have settled to do meditations to attain nirvana. ‘Matale Aluvihare’ is a landmark to all the Buddhists all over the world, because it is the place where the writing of ‘Tripitaka’ took place. Until that time the Lord Buddha’s teaching was alive orally from generation to generation. Therefore, this historical value of Aluvihare makes it a sacred place for all Buddhists. Also, there is a museum where everyone can have a chance of writing on a seasoned ‘Ola Leaf’ using coal and natural oil extracts from trees. The view on the top is magnificent. There are superb paintings inside caves, which are quite different from others, as it represents scenes on hell and devils with torture scenes.
25. Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla cave temple complex is located in the scenic city of Dambulla and was first constructed by King Valagamba. Further, there are 5 temples consisting of Dambulla temples under a lengthy large rock. This is also famous as the Golden Cave Temple, because of its magnificent arts and carvings of Buddha statues, and his faithful disciples. Further, it is the largest, and the best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. Many locals and tourists visit there all over the year to worship, and to experience the beautiful carving and the location. Besides, this is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites on this island.
Besides, the hike to Dambulla is not as exhausting as Sigiriya or Pidurangala, as it has a gentle slope. It is a must climb hike because you can capture very nice scenes during your climb to the top, having the mighty Sigiriya visible in the distance. So, if you are visiting Sigiriya, don’t forget to visit Dambulla as well, as you can climb both on the same day.
26. Pidurangala Viharaya
Pidurangala royal cave temple is located a few kilometers north of Sigiriya. As per history, the royal families used to visit this temple. Furthermore, Pidurangala rock is a hidden gem of Sri Lanka, as it was not very popular among locals and tourists. But nowadays it has become very popular among tourists and local travelers, because of Instagram influencers. Even though the hike is a bit tenuous, the panoramic view from the top will freshen you up. Also, it is the perfect place to witness the best view of Sigiriya.
Many tourists visit Pidurangala to catch sunrise or sunset, as they don’t want to miss the million-dollar picturesque view for free of charge. Moreover, it is an ideal place to take pictures, overlooking the mighty Sigiriya, misty forests, scenic paddy fields, lakes, and villages. So, if you are visiting Sri Lanka, Pidurangala Rock Climbing should be a part of your travel itinerary for sure.
Sigiriya or the Lion Rock, famous as the eighth wonder of the world, shows the magnificent history of Ceylon. Further, it is located in the northern Matale region in the central province of Sri Lanka. The name ‘Lion Rock’ derives due to its gateway, which has a form of a lion. Indeed, the gigantic two paws of the lion are still visible at the entrance to the castle.
The rock was a palace and a fortress for the mighty King Kashyapa. Besides, on the peak of Sigiriya, water fountains, water gardens, boulder gardens, and the remains of the royal palace are still visible, proving the extraordinary masterpiece by ancient Sri Lankans. Some of the water sprinkles are still active and they function on certain days. Further, the mirror wall and the frescoes, where there is a special painting of ladies, attract everyone who climbs Sigiriya.
So, owing to its significance in varying aspects, we can simply introduce Sigiriya as a living museum and a cultural treasure trove. Thus, this UNESCO World Heritage Site happens to be one of the famous places for tourists. Indeed, it is one of the must-visit places for anyone who’s traveling to Sri Lanka.
Thanthirimale is an ancient village in Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura District. It is famed for its historic temple, which is the Thanthirimale Raja Maha Vihara. It is around 80 kilometers beyond the Mannar and 40 kilometers northwest of Anuradhapura city. Of course, built around the third century BC, this temple is a crucial and vital section of the village, and one of the important archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
According to mythology, the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi was brought to Sri Lanka as a sapling and it was kept at Thanthirimale for one night before carrying on to Anuradhapura. There is also a belief that a branch from the plant was taken and replanted in Thanthirimale as a memorial, making it the country’s first Sri Maha Bodhi. However, Buddhist monks rebuilt the temple in the 1960s. The temple’s ruins are now visible, which include two spectacular stone figures and several stone ponds. With all these historical and cultural values, Thanthirimale remains one of the must-visit archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
Archaeological Department in Sri Lanka
Of course, Sri Lanka is a country that has a great history. Thus, there are numerous heritage sites and relics all across the country. In fact, there are about two hundred and fifty thousand archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. The protection of those sites is the sole responsibility of the Archaeological Department. They perform their duties to preserve and manage all the sites, in order to hand it over to future generations. So, the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka plays a major role in conserving these treasures on this island.
Moreover, there are some sites that are yet to be explored. Therefore, it is essential to list and categorize the archeological sites in Sri Lanka, movable archeological equipment, and monuments. And yes, the Archeological Department does it with much attention.
Similarly, the department leads various research that is indeed important. Accordingly, it is the utmost duty of this department to provide knowledge and awareness to the general public about the archeological sites in Sri Lanka, and their values. Besides, Sri Lanka is a country, which delivers the highest attention to relics, ancient heritages, and monuments. And yes, the department of archaeology has done a great job, preserving higher percentages of heritages and archeological sites so far. So, the contribution of the Archeological Department is highly appreciable when talking about preserving archeological sites in Sri Lanka.
The Bottom Line
Indeed, the archaeological sites in Sri Lanka simply reveal to the world the evidence of a story spanning thousands of years. Besides, the way they bring out the rich cultural and religious values while exhibiting the grandeur of the Sri Lankan heritage is simply impressive. Thus, the importance they hold, and the value they add to the country are certainly indescribable. So, if you ever arrive on this splendid island, make sure that you visit these wonderful archeological sites in Sri Lanka. Of course, they will surely magnify the delight of your travel, offering you an amusing experience that is second to none. Happy and Safe Travelling!