Said to have been built around the 3rd century and located in the North-Western Province of Sri Lanka, Hatthikuchchi is unique in its architecture and is considered to be one of the oldest Buddhist temple complexes found in the island country. The name Hatthikuchchi comes from a rock found inside the temple which resembles an elephant, the word meaning 'Elephant Stomach.' The temple which is still under excavation is thought to have been one of the first Buddhist complexes dating back to the time when Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka.
Although very little is known about this mountain, Wedihiti Kanda is known to be steeped in history and folklore and is considered a pilgrimage destination for many. There are remains of an ancient shrine found at the top, and many newer places of worship have come up. Many believe the antiquity of the mountain has faded, but it is still considered a spiritual journey for anyone to climb to the top and experience one of the most historical places in Sri Lanka.
Around 15 km away from the historical town of Dambulla, Jathika Namal Uyana is undoubtedly unique amongst Sri Lanka’s many attractions. Jathika Namal Uyana has the enviable distinction of being the largest ironwood forest in all of Asia, and perhaps the largest rose quartz mountain, too. The area also houses the remains of a Buddhist monastery, stupa and other structures, and a small but stunning waterfall.
The Pidurangala Rock, a historical place in Sri Lanka, is a few kilometres away from the famous UNESCO site, the Sigiriya Rock. It is known for the view on top of the rock, the white temple situated at the base of the cliff, and the enormous reclining Buddha statue located under an ancient boulder.
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Ritigala situated between Polonnaruwa and the old town of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is a hilly forest and a place of Buddhist worship. The monastery is named after the 40m tall Ritigala trees in the mid slopes of the hill; this Buddhist monastery has inscriptions that date back to 1st century BC making it one of the oldest historical places in Sri Lanka.
Ceylon, as it was formerly known, rests on a beautiful landscape down south of India; hills, beaches, valleys and waterfalls adorn this country. One such ancient historical places in Sri Lanka is Mihintale located 12 km from Anuradhapura which are known for religion, monarchy, warfare and the underlying sense of scenic diversity.
An ancient Buddhist temple that dates back to the 10th century with some of the most detailed statue works of Buddha and disciples. Although most of its history is relatively unknown even the real name, the temple was named 'Buduruvagala' which means the 'Rock of Buddhist Sculptures' owing to the number of sculptures in the temple. Located in the Monaragala district, the temple also has one of the colossal Buddha statues in Sri Lanka which stands at the height of 16 meters.
Known For : Sigiriya Rock Pidurangala Rock Elephant rides
Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, Sigiriya serves as a fine example of ancient urban planning. Sigiriya is a significant site of the Cultural Triangle and perhaps is an iconic historical places in Sri Lanka. The site, also known as Lion Rock, is recognized all over the world for the remains of the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress and its numerous enchanting and well-preserved attractions. The complex hydraulics system at the fortress enhances the site’s reputation as a beautiful example of classical city planning.
Best Time: February to April
Yapahuwa is one of the historical places in Sri Lanka and lies between Karunagala and Anuradhapura. A short-lived capital of the country in the 13th century, Yapahuwa was the site of preservation of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
Anuradhapura, the heritage capital of Sri Lanka, hosts structures with intricate stone carvings and excellent craftsmanship, making it a base for a numerous places in Sri Lanka. The Ranmasu Uyana was one among them. It was essentially a park in the pre-Christian era of Sri Lanka; precisely, a sculpted rock carved for bathing purposes during the days’ monarchy.
Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Sinhalese name for this holy shrine. Famously called Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it is touted to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in the whole world. It houses the tooth of Buddha nestled in a golden chamber and is within the premises of the royal palace complex (formerly a princely state). Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is said that whichever state holds the tooth relic, maintains an essential place in the governance of the country.
Polonnaruwa Vatadage is a well-preserved Vatadage in the famous Dalada Maluwa quadrangle of the ancient city of ruins, Polonnaruwa. Vatadages are typical Buddhist structures found in Sri Lanka. These are circular, constructed using stone and brick with intricate stone carvings and a wooden roof. They were built to protect stupas. Currently, there are ten Vatadages in Sri Lanka that also stand for Sri Lanka's history, and the most popular one is Polonnaruwa Vatadage.
Belilena is a well-known cave among archaeology enthusiasts in Sri Lanka. Evidence of prehistoric humans known as the Balangoda Man were found at the site and were dated back to as long as 32000 years ago. Located 8 kilometres away from the town of Kitugala, Belilena was declared an Archaeological Reserve by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. The site also yielded evidence of the use of fire as early as 30000 years ago along with some old tools and bones of game animals like deers, boars and more.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is also called the Golden Temple of Dambulla. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the Matale District, in the central province of Sri Lanka and is the best-preserved and largest cave temple complex of the country. It comprises of five main caves, each possessing numerous statues of Lord Buddha, and some figures of kings and statues of Lord Vishnu making it one of the historical places in Sri Lanka.
Adisham Hall, a unique historical place in Sri Lanka, is a stone bungalow located near Haputale, Sri Lanka. Constructed in the regal English style of architecture, it houses a charming and well-maintained fruit and flower orchard, a Benedictine monastery, and two quaint rooms—the living room and the library, exhibiting objects from the colonial era. Also, Adisham Hall offers a tranquil atmosphere and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
As one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the Indian subcontinent, Adam’s Peak is a 7,359 feet tall mountain in Sri Lanka, frequently visited by people of almost all major religions.
It is widely known for Sri Pada, a foot-shaped indentation at the summit of the pyramid-like mountain. Also called the sacred footprint, the Buddhists believe that it is the footprint of Lord Buddha, the Hindus as that of Shiva, the Muslims as Adam’s, and the Christians as that of St. Thomas the Apostle making it one of the oldest historical places in Sri Lanka.
Known For : Sri Maha Bodhi Sigiriya Rock Fortress Ruwanweliseya
Anuradhapura is a historical place in Sri Lanka as it houses several heritage monasteries, palaces and monuments. It is known for its vast dagobas or brick stupas, ancient ponds and pools and magnificent temples. The city was established as the first capital of Sri Lanka in 377 BC. It was also at this time that Anuradhapura rose to prominence as a seat of political and economic importance.
Best Time: April and September
The Ruwanweliseya stupa is one of the largest stupas or dagobas, which is in the heart of the beautiful heritage city of Anuradhapura. This magnificent stupa was built by King Dutugamunu, who was hailed to be the hero of the island. The Ruwanweliseya stupa is also known as the Maha stupa and is one of the historical places in Sri Lanka.
The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is one of the most ancient trees which are living even today standing tall in the Mahamewna Gardens in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The tree is believed to have sprouted from a cutting brought from Bodh Gaya in India, where Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment. The tree is an authentic and living link to Gautama Buddha and is often respected as the oldest historical place in Sri Lanka which has a recorded date of the plantation.
Known For : The Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu Rankoth Vehera Archaeological Museum, Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa, a marvel of a place, is in Northern Sri Lanka. The city once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa under the Chola Empire in the 10th century. This makes it the second most historical place in Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura.
The entire town has two sections - the development and infrastructure part called the Polonnaruwa new town and the Old Site with ancient remains and monarchical structures.
The old part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has numerous ruins dating back to 800 years comprising of tombs, temples, statues and stupas. Within the town, is the celebrated quadrangle, Gal Vihara – Buddhist 12th century rock temple, Archaeological museum, Polonnaruwa Vatadage – holds the relic of the tooth of Buddha, Rankot Vihara – a 12th century stupa, Hatadage - an ancient relic shrine and the Lankathilaka – a cathedral type Buddhist temple and many other statuettes dedicated to Lord Buddha.
These historical places in Sri Lanka are worth a visit and the time required to go around and explore these places!