Colonial heritage and religious treasures in Sri Lanka

Although this is a small Island, there are thousands of historical and colonially popular places in this pearl of the Indian Ocean. As a Sri Lankan, I'm happy to say many visitors visit my country to complete their research. Every historically significant area has its own hidden story, which is more interesting. Sometimes those places bring us to another world. I usually travel to these places as a stress-relieving method. When I visit those places, I am personally surprised that how my feelings and thoughts are changing. You know religion can change us. So I highly recommend visiting these places to find out its own story as an explorer.

The most remarkable place to visit with an architectural value in Sri Lanka is the 17th century walled Galle Fort. It is considered as one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage. Today the 36-hectare beach fort remains part of a living, working city. Remember, before going on a tour, check out the Buddhist Temple in that area, which was built in the 19th century. With stunning views of the palace and the sea, you can complete the Galle Fort walls full round again in the evening and visit the galley of the Merchant's Palace Hotel with delicious meals.

When we talk about the hillside in Sri Lanka, there are more awesome creations to see. Let's get the Kandy first, which is my favorite city. The heart of the green hills in Sri Lanka goes from colonial to religious and is rich with Buddhist structures. The historically valuable place in Kandy is the temple of tooth relic. Not only Buddhists but also thousands of foreigners come to visit this temple because of its cultural value.

Now let's go to the "Cultural Triangle" of Sri Lanka - bordering Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa - which has some of Sri Lanka's most famous archaeological and cultural sites and four UNESCO World Heritages. When we are talking about Polonnaruwa, it is the ruined home of a busy garden city of a 12th-century ruler; Among the ruins of Sigiriya in the 5th century is a large granite hilltop. Explore the palaces and monasteries of sacred Polonnaruwa and explore the cave monastery Dambulla full of frescoes.

When we go to the south coast of Sri Lanka, you will find many architectural treasures, as well as many of the country's valuable religious heritages. You will explore the 19th century Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple. Visit the Sri Kailavasanathar Swami Devastham Hindu Temple - the oldest in the city - and then look at the Holy Temple. St. Anthony's Church, where devotees line up to offer sacrifices for its technologically colored shrines.

Zorhan Mokoele | TDO local expert from South Africa


By Raveena Anjalee

In the true sense of the word I'm a travelling addicted person to satisfy my soul and escape from my dental student life. I was lucky enough to born in such a beautiful island, Sri Lanka. Travelling is the motivation of my life. Freedom is essential for a human being. So, I wish all the people who read this to take every possible efforts travel as much as possible. If you are really liking to visit my country, I'm ready to give any information that you need.

a Peradeniya based traveler

Colonial Heritage
There is a 443 years long colonial rule in Sri Lanka, such as the Portuguese (1505 – 1660), Dutch (1660 – 1802) & British (1802 – 1948). You will see the relative places like Dutch reformed churches, garrison cemeteries, and museums. Meet the "Vedda people" and discuss their experience will also amaze you differently.

The reaching near the fishing village in Negombo and the transfer to the first Dutch fort will add some different clicks to your photo collection. Visit the Dutch Church, which is situated near to it. Ride on the boat to the Dutch canals that are used for transportation. You will be able to get the experience of a beautiful ecosystem full of many species of birds. At the Colombo also you will catch the national museum in Sri Lanka which is having thousands of years ago old and historically advanced things.

The historical city of Anuradhapura
As I mentioned earlier, among the historical places in Sri Lanka, you will visit Anuradhapura. The reason is that it is the root of Sri Lankan history. None of the local trips to visit historical sites in Sri Lanka is ended if it does not include Anuradhapura.

Many historic buildings in this historic city are still in good shape despite their existence for centuries. Places such as Ruwanweli Stupa, Thuparama dagoba are in good condition, while some other ancient structures are reduced to ruins by the sun, rain, and wind.

Mostly we can find the eight most historically valuable places in Sri Lanka.

1. Sri Maha Bodhi
2. Ruwanweli stupa or dagoba
3. Isurumuniya
4. Jetawanarama Dagoba/Stupa
5. Abhayagiri Dagoba/stupa
6. Meirisaweltiya Stupa
7. Lankarama Stupa
8. Lovamahapaya

Visiting Sri Maha Bodhi
This is the oldest reported tree globally. The complete story of the tree has been mentioned in ancient chronicles. It is known as the most sacred location for Buddhists in the world.

Thuparama Stupa & Ruwanweli Stupa
Another important Buddhist monument: Ruwanweli Stupa. King Dutugemunu built it in the 2nd century B.C. About a hundred meters away from Ruwanweli Stupa is the Thuparama Dagoba; the two-century B.C. reign made it is believed to be the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy can be mentioned as the three corners of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa is considered one of the most-visited archaeological places in Sri Lanka from the culturally valuable cities in the cultural triangle.

Nature of ruins found in Polonnaruwa
All the ancient places in Anuradhapura are older than the Polonnaruwa. Of course, the Buddhist monasteries, houses, hospitals, parks, and other ancient Polonnaruwa sites face an excellent condition when we compare those places with Anuradhapura. Because of that, a considerable number of visitors come to travel Polonnaruwa instead of visiting Anuradhapura, especially when they have timing problems.

The historical site of Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Every year this place attracts more than one million tourists because of its cultural value. As this is a world heritage, lots of foreigners are concern about this fantastic place. There are beautiful paintings, arts, and statues here, which will develop its technology's curiosity.

Sigiriya Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Place
Sigiriya is another UNESCO world heritage site on the island, and this is one of the oldest and famous kingdoms in the world. You can also see a well-planned garden consisting of swimming pools, palaces, caves, security rooms, protected walls, and a ditch.

Although the paintings in Sigiriya, dating back to the 5th century A.D, have been completed using natural colors, they are still very fresh and fabulous.

This archaeological site's revolution has been started during the British period in Sri Lanka.

I want to explain a bit about the story of Sigiriya as it is a kind of interesting story to know. The King and his entourage have lived on the rock. King's throng, ancient ruined place, a swimming pool, and much other structure are still seen on the rock.

The rock is just like a mushroom shape, and it rises from the surrounding forest up to 500 m above sea level. Hiking this Sigiriya on 1200 steps can be a kind of difficult thing to do. Anyway, the last view after climbing is unforgettable; the spelling from the top of the stone will create a remarkable memory in your mind.

You can also see a palace at the top of the rock built by the King, a few steps away from the court is the big pond or a swimming pool.

One of the eye-catching religious treasures in Sri Lanka is the Dambulla cave temple. This is one of the most historically advanced Buddhist shrines in the world. This is one of the more critical temples for Buddhist people in Sri Lanka. This golden temple goes back to the 1st century B.C. The temple is located in Dambulla, a modern metropolis in the central province of Sri Lanka.

Dambullā Golden Temple caves of the island's oldest cave temple, which is still proper, and its quality has not been reduced by the weather or time. There are 5 spacious natural caves, hundreds of beautiful paintings and statues. It's happy to say that this temple is a part of any multi-day Sri Lanka road trip.

After the ruler gets the leadership back from the invaders, he made the cave into a Buddhist temple. At that moment, many Buddha statues were added to this golden temple and decorated with beautiful paintings.

Many wall paintings and creative ceilings can be seen on the inner wall and the caves' top. A colossal Buddha statue, which is in a recumbent position, can be seen in the first cave; this Buddha statue is one of the giant Buddha statues on the island, measuring 14 meters long.

The Temple of the Tooth, one of the most visited historical places in Sri Lanka
Kandy is a popular and historically developed place on this small island and must visit every tourist. The word's real sense is a must-visit location for Sri Lankan travelers (Buddhists) because of Buddha's tooth relic.

There are lots of religious treasures to see in Kandy, such as the temple of tooth relic, Pinnawala cultural village, Peradeniya botanical garden, and tea plantations.

As we know, Kandy was the last kingdom of the Sri Lankan monarchy and the island's ruling capital before the British occupation in Sri Lanka. This city has the most attractive blend of historical monuments, colonial buildings as well as new structures.

Kataragama Temple, multi-religious historical place in Sri Lanka
Kataragama Temple is situated near the southern side of Sri Lanka, and vast amounts of religious people are coming to worship. I can mention this place as one of the most ancient sites and a sacred place of worship in Sri Lanka. The most important thing is that the temple helps the peace and harmony among multi religions in Sri Lanka and strengthens the bonds among the different ethnic groups.

Most of the time, Hindu and Buddhist people are coming to worship their god and participate in religious observances. Don't encounter many foreign travelers here - the long sight of thousands of pilgrims queuing to normal on weekends and public holidays. Especially most people come to visit this place during holiday vacations and long weekends. They believe that this place's gods will help them reach their goals, fulfill their wishes, and all that.

There is a many kilometers long queue to enter this place during the vacation. The people are standing in line, sometimes for many hours, with the fruit dishes on their heads or hands. Anyway, the devotees never think about the pain and other discomforts because they believe that the gods can absorb the pain. After ending their 'Pooja,' they share the fruits with other people without a religious barrier. I think that it is good to have to strengthen the bonds between multi-religious people.

Adams peak
Adams peak is another valuable historical place located on this "Pearl of the Indian Ocean." You may already have heard about this place. Sri Lankan kids believe that all butterflies are flying from this beautiful place to visit Sri Lanka. In my childhood, I have counted the number of butterflies which are coming from Adams peak. This place has situated in the western part of the central mountain range. The history of Adams's rise is going back to the 6th century B.C. and coincides with Buddha's 1st visit to the island. Adams peak is a leading Buddhist pilgrimage site, and Catholics, Hindus, and Muslims are conquering the mountain.

Adams peak is the 5th highest mountain in Sri Lanka, which rises to 2,243 meters (7,359 ft) from the sea-level. Many Buddhists visit this hill, especially during the peak pilgrimage season from November to April.

Sri Lanka is a country with an interesting history. The stories are heart touching, and I still love to read books and then travel to these valuable places. Every time I visit there, I feel like the kings are still living. We can learn lots of things from the hidden stories of colonial places in Sri Lanka.