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History & Heritage

Once ruled by godlike kings, guided by arahants and sages and protected by god and men alike, Sri Lanka has a history of over 3000 years backed by one of the oldest chronological recorded histories in the world. Testaments to the glorious past of Sri Lanka still stands proudly scattered throughout the country from North to South and in-between.

The North Central Plains of Sri Lanka is the home to Sri Lanka’s two main ancient civilizations; Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Anuradhapura had been the capital of Sri Lanka for over 1000 years and its remaining structures include majestic castles, serene temple complexes and giants stupas, all crafted out of stones, bricks, and granites. The Rock Fortress of Sigiriya and its surrounding water gardens are an epitome of, Sri Lankan architectural and engineering skills and is among the eight wonders of the ancient world.

Polonnaruwa ancient city is the silent witness to an era when the silent stones sang a song closer to the human soul. Considered the peak of Ancient Sri Lankan architecture, the ruined palaces, temples and garden of Polonnaruwa still continue to amaze the world.

The historical sites in the cities of Dambulla, Kandy, and Ampara hosts ancient temples that still give an aura of serenity and peacefulness, the remains of magnificent palaces and royal grounds that once were populated by generations of kings and queens, majestic statues that are carved out of stone, a rock fortress build upon a rock with architectural and engineering techniques that marvel modern academics, ancient wall paintings and murals that carry their vibrant colour even hundreds of years later, all standing as a testament to a glorious and colourful past of the island.

Having changed hands to global powers in the late 16th Century Sri Lanka was governed by three consecutive colonial powers; Portuguese, Dutch and British. Each left their heavy influence in Sri Lankan landscape, social life, and architecture and some of the majestic forts, churches and administration buildings in the metropolitans of Sri Lanka were remnants of colonial architecture.


The full moon in May marks the Day of Vesak – the most anticipated festival for Buddhists around the world marking the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away (Parinirvana) of Lord Buddha. Officially recognized internationally in 1999, Vesak celebrates the spiritual values of one of the world’s oldest religions that originated over two and a half millennia ago.

In Sri Lanka, Vesak is a majestic two-day island-wide celebration illuminating the country in kaleidoscopic colours and sentiments of unity, sharing and spirituality.

People flood the streets to enjoy myriad festivities; ‘Dansals’ where stalls by the road offer free food or drinks to everyone, vibrant light installations called Pandols depicting the stories of Lord Buddha, intricately designed lanterns in bright colours and Sil programs where devotees observe the Buddhist teachings in temples.

Apart from Vesak, Sri Lankans also observe Poson – the full moon day in June, which marks Arahant Mahinda introducing Buddhism to the island in 3rd century B.C. The third occasion of celebration is the ‘Esala Festival,’ which honors the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha with parades (perahara) of dancers, musicians, acrobats, fire performers and regally dressed elephants during a 10-day period in Kandy.

Heritage & Culture

I experienced the spiritual side of Sri Lanka’s heritage and culture when I visited the KathiresanKovil and the Kelaniya Raja MahaViharaya. The KathiresanKovil is a Hindu Temple which is over a hundred years old and the Kelaniya Raja MahaViharaya is a huge Buddhist temple dating back to over 2,500 years.

There were huge stone-carved statues of the lord Buddha and I noticed a very large ‘Bo Tree’ which I’m told, has strong relevance to the Buddha himself.

The scent of flowers, oil and incense filled the air and I felt peace and spirituality all around me.

The Galle Fort

I had heard about it and read about it but finally walking through the magnificent Galle Fort which was built by the Portuguese and then later on taken over and fortified by the Dutch, was an amazing experience. It was like stepping back into a part of history itself. This historical monument built in the southern seaside city of Galle in the fifteen hundreds, stands as a testament to Portuguese and Dutch colonization of Sri Lanka.

Still majestic with its stone walls and sprawling ramparts, today it is a quiet, charming place with little criss-crossing streets bearing old Dutch names. These streets are lined with beautifully restored ancestral homes, converted hotels, cafes and restaurants.

My father’s eyes recollected so many things. Maybe it was the architecture. Maybe it was the salty sea air but his eyes were filled with wonder and nostalgia.

Climbing the 8thWorld Wonder, Sigiriya

Our exciting holiday commenced with a marvelous experience of Sri Lankan history and culture. We visited Sigiriya, an ancient city in the ‘Cultural Triangle’, which was a kingdom in the 5th century A.D. It was thrilling to climb the Sigirya Rock which was the fortress of a king named Kashyapa, in ancient times. Sigiriya is known as the 8th Wonder of the World.

During our climb we saw the remains of his palace, which was pretty awesome.

The 360 degree view from the top was amazing.

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