Dating back to the 1st century BC, this is the most impressive cave temple in Asia. It has five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip line to keep the interiors dry. In 1938 the architecture was embellished with arched colonnades and gabled entrances. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock. There are images of the Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well as various gods and goddesses.
Visit SIGIRIYA – ( 15 minutes drive )
Sigiriya – one of the world wonders and an archaeological site in North Central Sri Lanka. It contains the ruins of an ancient palace complex, built during the regin of King Kasyapa (477AD – 495 AD). It is one of the 7 world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and is one of it’s most popular tourist destinations. The Sigiriya site consists of a 180m tall granite rock, whose sides are so steep that at some points the top overhangs the base. At the top of the site there is a palace complex. The ruines of various chambers, stairways and pools can be seen at the top. There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a pair giant pair of lions paws which is infact the ruind of a huge head of a lion whose open mouth served as the entrance to the royal palace. Surrounding the palace complex are the ruins of a garden complex consisting of two moats, various pools.
Visit Pidurangala – ( 20 minutes drive )
Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple was built by King kassyapa in 5th century A.D. Spread over 13 1/2 acres, the monastery gave sanctuary to 500 meditating bhikkus (Buddhist monks) and a very important place of Archaeological site. Pidurangala Temple is home for the Largest Image of – – Reclining “Buddha” Statue in Asia,built of Clay & Brick & 48 1/2 feet in Length.
The panoramic view of the sunrise from Pidurangala Rock
MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
Giant tanks and irrigation system have been built to utilize for cultivation. Out of the massive tanks built in Sri Lanka dowered with a long cultivate heritage symbolized by the tanks and the dagaba. Minneriya is second to none.
The park is situated in Higurakgoda Divisional secretariet in the District of Polonnaruwa in the North Central Province. The total of the Park is 8889.411 hectares. Minneriya was declared as a National Park on the 12 th of August 1997 under the same ordinance opened for visitors in May 1998. Minneriya reservoir along with its surroundings, plays a vital role as a wetland, hence it has high biodiversity.
The park is located 182km from Colombo on the main road to Polonnaruwa via Habarana. The main entrance to the Park is situated at Ambagaswewa, 8.8km from Habarana on the Colombo Polonnaruwa road. After obtaining a permit from the Ambagaswewa wild life conservation office, one could enter the park.
The topography is varied, with hills, patanas and talawas. Minneriya is an ancient irrigation tank, with a capacity of 22,550ha when full and a catchment area of 24,000ha. The main source of water is from a diversion of the Amban Ganga, along the Elahera channel. The park covers an area of 8,889ha. The altitude ranges from approximately 100m to 8,885m at the top of Nilgala peak. Condition is topical monsoon climate. Mean annual rainfall is about 1,146mm and mean annual temperature 27.5 ° C.
The national park vegetation consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, abandoned chena cultivated lands, grassland, and wetlands.
Twenty four (24) species of mammals in Sri Lanka have been reported from this park. The most important of them is the wild elephant (Elephant maximus) the population of which of about 150-200. Minnerya reservoir and its surrounding wetlands habitat is inhabited by large number of a aquatic bird species. Early morning and late evening are the optimum observation of the day for resident and migratory birds. Three species of fishes are endangered out of four endemic species recorded in the reservoir, while the introduced Thilapia species are dominant
KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK
Kaudulla is the newly established national park in the heart of the cultural triangle. Kaudulla in the country and has excellent potential for viewing elephant and other species of wildlife. The location is situated in 30km away from Polonnaruwa District in North central province.
ACCESS routes – Via Habarana, Hatharaskotuwa and Galoua Junction (197km) , Via Habarana, 45 th km post along Habarana Polonnaruwa road Rotawewa.
Topography is varied with hills, lowlands, and forest and scrub land. Kaudulla is an ancient irrigation tank with a capacity of 104,000 feet acres. The main source of water is giant canal which is around the tank. The main annual rainfall is about 1500-2000 mm; mean annual temperature is 20°C.
The national park vegetation consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, abandoned chena cultivated lands, grasslands and wetlands. Tropical dry mixed evergreen forest predominated.
Twenty four species of mammals in Sri Lanka have been reported from this park.. The most important of them is the wild elephant the population of which is about 200. Twenty six species of fish are found in the reservoir, this fish are economically important. In this park 435 species of birds reported to be them endemic birds to Sri Lanka.
HURULU ECO PARK
Hurulu Eco Park Is apparently home to a few hundred Elephants that chose this as an alternative stopover before crossing to the much larger Minneriya-Kaudulla Forest Reserve which Is not far away.
The Habarana Hurulu Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka is a thriving eco system with a variety of creatures.It was designated as a biosphere reserve in 1977. The forest reserve is a very important habitat of the Sri Lankan elephant. The animal is known for its migratory behavior and does so especially in the dry season between the forests situated around the area.
Chloroxylon swietenia (Sinhalese “Burutha”), Manilkara hexandra (“Palu”) and Diospyros ebenum (“Kaluwara”) are the dominant tree species. The Indian star tortoise, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lankan elephant, Sri Lanka leopard and rusty-spotted cat are among the endangered species of the forest reserve.
Visit Polonnaruwa – 45 minutes drive
Well preserved City full of Ancient Dagobas, Temples ( Hindu ), Ponds, Moonstones & Beautiful parks. Polonnaruwa which lies 216 km northeast of Colombo was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993 AD. Also known as Sri Lanka’s medieval capital (11th – 13th Century AD) is a well-preserved city full of ancient dagobas, moonstones, beautiful parks, massive buildings and stunningly beautiful statues. The majestic King’s Council Chamber, the Lotus Bath, the Lanka Thilaka Viharaya, the Gal Viharaya (rock temple), Watadage ( Round Temple ), Atadage, Thiwanka Temple ( with Great wall paintings )and the statue of one of Polonnaruwa’s great king, King Parakramabahu, are a few of this capital’s memorable sights. The Sea of Parakrama – a vast 12th century man-made reservoir dominates the city.
Visit Anuradhapura – one hour drive
Well preserved City, full of Ancient Dagobas, Temples ( Hindu ), Moonstones, Ponds & Beautiful Parks – dated back to the 5th century BC. Walk through the ruins and discover the ancient remains of an old civilization, adorned with beautiful man made lakes. The area is plenty of species of birds and monkeys. Anuradhapura is where you can see the most historical l & the Oldest Tree in the World, The Bo Tree ( Ficus Religiosa ) is venerated by Hundreds of Thousands of Buddhist all over the world
Mihintale, a rocky mountain about 11 kilometres east of Anuradhapura is called the Aradhana Gala ( Invitation rock ) where Buddhism was introduced into Sri lanka in 247 BC, Mihintale. The mountain of Mahinda soon became a great monastic city encompassing not one but four rocky, forested hills.
Every pilgrim who wishes to reach the Dagoba at the summit of this sacred mountain must climb 1,840 steps to do so. The staircase was built by King Bhathika Abaya (22 BC to 7AD). An ancient paved road, some 1,500 years old, now cuts that number in half by ascending to a terrace halfway up the 1,019-foot hill.At the foot of the Mihintale mountain is an ancient hospital, so denoted by an inscription and by the presence of stone cistern for medication by immersion in herbal oils. A nearby Vihara of unknown age probably marks the remains of a monastic complex
Kalawewa & Aukana – one hour drive
Kalawewa (man made tank)and the Aukana free standing tallest granite Buddha statue of the country can not be taken as two separate entities. These two marvels of the ancient Sri Lankan History, dating back to 5th century AD . This ancient tank is one of the magnificent reservoirs of the ancient world has a circumference of 40 miles and has a total area of seven square miles at full capacity was built by King Dhathasena.
The King who built the tank has obtained water for the reservoir from 3 main rivers of the area and also capturing drainage coming from the surrounding hills. King also constructed a 54 mile long canal from the tank to the medieval capital of the ancient Sri Lanka – Anuradhapura.Kalawewa (man made tank)and the Aukana free standing tallest granite Buddha statue of the country cannot be taken as two separate entities. These two marvels of the ancient Sri Lankan History, dating back to 5th century AD . This ancient tank is one of the magnificent reservoirs of the ancient world has a circumference of 40 miles and has a total area of seven square miles at full capacity was built by King Dhathasena.
The King who built the tank has obtained water for the reservoir from 3 main rivers of the area and also capturing drainage coming from the surrounding hills. King also constructed a 54 mile long canal from the tank to the medieval capital of the ancient Sri Lanka – Anuradhapura.
Aluwiharaya – 45 minutes drive
The Aluvihara Temple, on the North side of the town, is the historic location where the Pali Canon was first written down completely in text on ola (palm) leaves in 29 BCE.
Aluvihara; Luminous Cave Temple is synonymous with the teaching of the Buddha. Aluvihara rightly assumes its significance in the annals of the history of world Buddhism. It is in this very location that the Tipiţaka was documented on palm-leaves. “Assembled the priests, who here compared their texts, which were then, or soon afterwards, committed to writing, and form the Banapota or Buddhist Bible. This took place about ninety-two years B.C.” “Therefore, to the enlightened Buddhist” says Major Forbes in his work Eleven years in Ceylon written in 1840 “This secluded and comparatively unpretending cavern must be of infinitely greater interest than the Temple of the Tooth or Thuparama itself.” Aluvihara also preserved with it a host of rich literature that had woven around the Tipitaka including commentaries.
Matale was a site of a major battle in 1848 when the Matale Rebellion started and the British garrison in the Fort MacDowall in Matale was placed under siege by the rebels led by Weera Puran Appu and Gongalegoda Banda who are considered as national heroes in Sri Lanka.
Nalanda Gedige – 30 minutes drive
Nalanda gedige archeological site is located in Matale district in Sri Lanka. There is a pagoda kind of a structure which is purely made by stone and it is a wonderful creation of ancient Sinhalese. This pagoda structure has been built in a later period and before that it was located in a paddy field just near to present pagoda structure. In very old days it was kind of a centre where ancient Sinhalese had used it to acknowledge the time throughout the island. The survey department of Sri Lanka has proved that this location is exactly the middle of the island. From ancient times it has been used to acknowledge the period of sun setting. The meaning of gedige` in Sinhala stands for house of bell in English. So we can conclude that those days there was a bell which had been used to acknowledge the people the hours of day.
Wasgamuwa – one and half hours drive
Located neighbouring to the historic city of Polonnaruwa the park is one of the precious national treasures of the island.Discover the opulence of the flora and fauna in the dry tropical forest setting, overlooking the stunning landscape of the park. Enjoy a Wasgamuwa safari ride filling your lungs with the refreshing air of the pristine wild and listening to the symphony of crickets and birds.
Rest assuring you the sights of mighty elephants in a Wasgamuwa safari ride, the national park is also a home for a diverse of mammals including leopard, sloth bear, purple-faced langur monkey, wild boar, sambar, spotted deer, buffalo, and endemic yellow fronted barbet.Small water pools scattered, throughout the national park are rich habitats for a diversity of aquatic life including water monitor, crocodile, python and various beautiful aquatic birds. This provide the wildlife-lovers with clear sights of wildlife around the pools, offering them a world of opportunities to snap your cameras for clear shots to take home.
Secreted away north of Habarana, on the slopes of a densely wooded mountainside protected by the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve, lie the mysterious remains of the forest monastery of Ritigala. The mountainside on which the monastery sits is thought to be the Ramayana’s Aristha, the place from which Hanuman leapt from Lanka back to India, having discovered where Sita was being held captive