Sri Lankan culture has long been influenced by the Buddhism and rich history with existence of successful great kingdoms full with wonders.
The first capital of Sri Lanka – and remaining so for 1,400 years. The only thing that has managed to live – literally – throughout the centuries, carefully attended by guardians all this time, is the sacred Bo Tree, the Sri Maha Bodhi, grown from a sampling of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Otherwise Anuradhapura known as the “Great Stupa”, Ruwanweli Seya was built under the order of King Dutugemunu, who lived long enough to see through its completion in 144 B.C. – on his deathbed.
About 12 miles from Sigiriya you’ll come to the Raja Maha Vihara, otherwise known as the Dambulla Cave Temple or Golden Temple. This is actually a series of five temples that finds its origin in the Anuradhapura period (1st Century B.C.), even though the art works that have survived to this day are mostly representative of the Kandyan period (18th Century) due to restoration efforts.
Desperation can also drive a man to greatness. It must have been a mixture of fear and guilt for having his own father slain and stealing the throne from right under his half-brother’s nose that motivated King Kasyapa to erect this magnificent fortress – ‘Palace in the Sky’ – in the 5th Century A.D.
The rock rises out of nowhere, towering 600 feet above you. From the base you can’t see the palace, which means you’ll have to climb the equivalent of 75 floors up. A fairly healthy person would need about two hours to get up and down, but once you’re up there, you’ll find that just being on top looking down at the vast forest below is well worth the climb.
As early as the 7th Century, when Anuradhapura was still the capital, Sri Lankan kings had made Polonnaruwa their country retreat. With the Cholas’ conquest of Anuradhapura in the 11th Century, Polonnaruwa succeeded it as the capital and remained so for the next 200 years – even when Vijayabahu I eventually defeated the South Indian invaders.
Pidurangala rock or Pidurangala vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple ituated in Pidurangala village. The temple was constructed on a massive rock called Pidurangala, which is located a few kilometers north of the historical fort sigiriya. Pidurangala Rock has one of the most spectacular views in Sri Lanka from the top of the rock. It’s a bit of a hike, but it’s well worth the challenge.