The Cultural Triangle is the most popular area of the island for tourists – and with good reason. The ancient ruins, some of which are over 2,000 years old, still resonate with a stately atmosphere, inspiring a reverential awe in all who walk amongst them.
From the imposing Sigiriya Rock Fortress to the enchanting paintings and sculptures of Dambulla Cave Temple, there are endless wonders to explore here. While most head to Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, the two main tourist attractions of the island, other gems are often overlooked: the extensive ruins at Anuradhapura; sacred Mihintale, believed to be the birthplace of Sri Lanka’s Buddhism, and the secluded Ritigala, an ancient monastery constructed on a mountainside hidden within extensive jungle. (For more information, see our next blog).
We have just launched a range of new experiences that will enable you to see the Cultural Triangle as you never have before – take a look at our top four:
Hot-air Ballooning in the Cultural Triangle
Ancient, mysterious and shrouded in mythology, the Cultural Triangle is the roughly triangular-shaped region which once served as the nucleus of the Sri Lankan civilization. In this arid dry zone, Sinhalese kings commanded their people, fought wars, built rock fortresses, planned elaborate irrigation systems and designed gigantic palaces. Fast forward 2,000 years and the modern-day Cultural Triangle has retained much of its natural beauty, the ruins and relics of previous millennia jutting imposingly out of the jungle. Flying over this area moments before the break of dawn is the stuff that dreams are made of: let your mind wander back through the ages as you take to the skies to see this fascinating area from a completely different angle.
Meet the Monkeys of Polonnaruwa
Eulogized by Disney’s Monkey Kingdom movie, the lost city of Polonnaruwa is home to a vast monkey population living among the impressively preserved ruins. This ancient archaeological site is the best place in the country to get up close and personal with Sri Lanka’s three diurnal primates: the purple-faced leaf monkey, the toque macaque, and the grey langur. In many countries, primates are increasingly difficult to observe due to declining habitats, but under the protection of the Smithsonian Primate Research Center, Polonnaruwa’s primate population has flourished. Conducting conservation and scientific research in the area for almost half a century, the center offers a chance for visitors to engage and connect with these fascinating creatures.
Afternoon Tea with a View
In the picturesque golden hour before sunset, the dry plains of the island’s Cultural Triangle are terracotta and the emerald forests become more verdant and beautiful than ever. More than 2000 years ago Sinhalese Kings left their legacies – palaces, fortresses, monasteries, and elaborately created irrigation systems – all over this region, which are now ruins that echo the grandiose beginnings of the Sri Lankan civilization. Climb to the Boulder Garden, which offers panoramic views of all the main cultural sites, where your afternoon tea is delivered through a system of ropes and pulleys: the fare is basic but pleasing, enhanced by the awe-inspiring views.
Birding at Kaludiya Pokuna
Hidden deep in the forest close to Kandalama, the ancient ruins of Kaludiya Pokuna are all that is left of a Buddhist Monastery built more than 1200 years ago. Shrouded in secrecy by the thick surrounding jungle, they have a wild, untamed beauty and host a biodiverse range of wildlife. These ruins seem to have been re-claimed by the jungle and within their thick foliage lives a much wider variety of birds than you are likely to see in the surrounding areas, making this the ideal spot for birding. Totally off the usual tourist map, at this unique site you are unlikely to hear anything other than birdsong and the occasional rustle of animals moving through the thicket.
For more information on Sri Lanka and to see our full range of experiences, visit: www.srilankainstyle.com