My Tour to Srilanka (2/3) “Cultural triangle”

Cultural triangle:

As discussed in our previous post that from tourism point of view Srilanka can be divided into three parts, I have shared my experience of Hill Country. Now in this post i am going to share my experience  of visiting Cultural Triangle. In Srilanka this Cultural Triangle is also known as ancient cities.

In Srilanka the fare of bus is very economical, even less than the bus fare in Pakistan. It’s very comfortable fast as well. So, it’s a comfortable facility for tourists. But the only issue is that the bus drops you at the bus stand and then you have to hire a rikshaw to reach your aimed destination.

The alternative to this service is car or rikshaw but both of these cost you more money but they drop you exactly at your desired destination. I have done my tours to tourist spots in Srilanka by bus. It costs you less and it also give you a chance to meet up with the local people.

So, the most economical thing in whole Srilanka is the fare of bus. But whatever mode of transport you use, always keep umbrella/raincoat with yoy because it can rain any time in Srilanka.

In Cultural Triangle there are 4-5 cities which have many historical/ancient temples, fots and palaces. So, the Buddhist community from all around the world come here to visit this Cultural triangle. So it’s a hot tourist spot for all the tourists who visit Srilanka.

Matale:

I started my tour from the city of Matale. It took me about 30-35 minutes to reach Matale from Kandy by bus. You can also do this journey by train which will take about an hour. On reaching Matale i began my tourism expedition and visited a temple named Aluvihare.

Aluvihare Temple:

This temple is situated at 3km outside the city of Matale in skirt of mountains. Basically there are 4-5 caves in mountains having various statues of Buddha in different positions. That’s why it is also known as temple of caves.

It’s very easy to reach these temples. You can hire a rikshaw from the oint where the bus ddrops you in Matale. The rikshaw will take you to Aluhihare in 10 minutes. From there you can climb to the temple whick only takes 15 minutes. And in one hour you can easily visit the complete temple.

Visiting these temples can give an excellent start to your tour on Cultural Triangle. One can have a beautiful and scenic view from here.

Nalanda Temple:

The next tourist spot after Aluhihare is Nalanda. From Mitlae it takes 40 minutes to reach Nalanda by bus or by rikshaw as well. In Nalanda one of the tourist attraction is a temple named Nalanda Gedige. From main road it takes about 15 minutes by rikshaw or 50 minutes by walk. This track is level so it’s easy to walk as well.

The beauty of this temple lies in it’s location. It’s attached to earth from one side and is surrounded by water from three sides. It’s an old temple whose roof is demolished and it only has walls. But the designs crafted in these walls are worth seeing. There was a stupa near to this temple but it was demolished due to it’s bad condition. Now only the platform of the stupa can be seen.

This complete visit to Nalanda Gedegi will consume 1.5 hours.

Dambulla:

The next tourist spot after Nalanda is Dambulla. From Kandy it takes 3 hours to reach directly to  Dambulla by bus. But if you stop at Matale or Nalanda then it will take 4 hours to reach Dambulla.

There is a temple near to main road which is known as golden temple. You don’t need a ticket to visit this temple. It’s name comes from the huge golden statue of Buddha which is present in this temple.

Going ahead of this temple there is a cave temple. This cave temple in Dambulla but this temple is much higher than that of Aluvihare. So it takes much of your effort to reach at this temple. You have to climb stairs for about 45 minutes to reach this temple.

You have to buy tickets to enter the temple.There are about eight caves in this temple and these caves are larger in size than that of Aluvihare. In each cave there are many statues of Buddha of various size. Tourists from through out the world come here to visit these caves.

This temple is worth seeing and it’s beauty can’t be explained in words. I’ll share it’s pictures.

Sigiriya:

The next tourist spot in Cultural Triangle after Dambulla is Sigiriya. It takes about 25 minutes to reach Sigiriya from Dambulla by bus. The hotel accommodation in Sigiriya is expensive than Dambulla. So, you can plan a day trip to Sigiriya by staying at Dambulla in night. The other option is to leave from Dambulla to visit Sigiriya and then without a night stay you can move to your next destination and make a night stay there.

But this is a fact that the tourist either visit Matale, Nalanda, Dambulla or not, but all of them never forget to visit Sigiriya. Basically Sigiriya is a palace on the top of a mountain. It has temples and accomodations but all of them are wrecks now. You can enjoy the actual beauty of Sigiriya by reaching the top of mountain.

This mountain is also known as Lion rock as this is in shape of a lion and you can also see the paws of the lion. When reach at Sigiriya then you have to climb a lot of stairs to reach it’s peak. Some stairs are made of bricks, some are cut into the mountain, some are made of iron and some are wooden. This climb takes about 1.5 hour to reach the peak.

But if you make the breaks on the way and also enjoy the beautiful scenes then you should keep 3 hours in mind to reach at the peak.

You have to buy a ticket to enter Sigiriya. When you enter Sigiriya and start climbing stairs, the first tourist spot you see is known as Water Gardens. These are about 500 year old structures. Basically these are gardens and many streams pass through these gardens. You can see many types of stones and wrecked temples. There is water pond as well. You can spent 25 minutes at this place and then move on.

After climbing more stairs you reach at the next tourist spot which is Mirror Wall. Basically this is a wall of stone. It is said that in old times (500 years ago) it was polished to the extent that when the king passed from in front of this wall he could see his reflection in this wall. That’s why it is known as Mirror Wall. But know it’s just a wall of stone.

After climbing more stairs you reach at Sigiriya Paintings. These are 500 year old paintings that the painters of that time made on the stones. Capturing pictures of these paintings is not allowed. The reason is that the flash light of camera can damage the colors of these paintings. But you can take copies of these pictures from a stall near to the ticket house.

Further climbing onto the spiral iron stairs you reach to the famous tourist destination which is known as Lion’s Paws. Actually this point is named so because the stairs which go above from this point has lion’s paws on it’s both sides. You can see this in the pictures that I’ll share.

Climbing stairs for another 30 minutes will take you to the peak of Sigiriya. Reaching on top, you will see that it’s a very vast peak. The palace was at this peak. Since at that time (500 years ago) there was no pipeline to supply water at palace so there are many water storage tanks which were filled by the rain water. This water was used to fulfill the water requirement of palace.

From this peak you can have a scenic view to the miles away.

Polonaruwa:

The ancient city after Sigiriya is Polonnaruwa, It is on the shore of a lake. About 800 years ago this was the capital of Srilanka. That’s why 800-1100 years old many structures are spread over a vast area. So , if you want to visit all the tourist spots in Polonnaruwa, you’ll need 2 days. There are many good hotels and food points.

You visit these ancient structures by four ways:

  • Hire a bicycle.
  • Hire a motorcycle (for this you need driving lisence)
  • Hire a rikshaw.
  • By walk. (but for this it will take more than 2 days)

All the wrecks in Polonnaruwa can be divided into three sections.

  1. First section of these structures is present near to shore of the lake. It is the area where Polonnaruwa museum is located. From here you the ticket to enter the ancient structures. There is a stream of water which runs out from lake. By the side of this stream there are ancient buildings known as King’s Council Chamber, Nissanka Malla Palace and Royal Baths. All these structures are very close to the ticket house.
  2. The second of structures is located on the southern side of lake. From ticket house it is a distance of about 1.5 km. The important structures of tourists attraction at this place are Pothgul Viharaya and a statue.
  3. For third section you have to turn right from ticket house towards main road. There you enter into the main ruins of Polonnaruwa. These ruins are so much vast that they cover the area of about 4-5 km. So. without a cycle or any other transport, it’s very difficult to cisit these ruins by walking. The major structures include Audience Hall, Bathing Pool, Royal Palce, Shiva Diwali, Pabula Vihara, Vishnu Diwali, Ramkot Vihara, Buddha Seema Parsada, Archeological Museum, Gal Vihaar (it has statues of Buddha in various postures).

Anuradhapura:

It was the 1st capital (remained capital for 1000 years) and the largest city in ancient cities. It’s ruins are also spread on a vast area. It’s much larger that Polannaruwa. It’s ruins are not as localized as in Polannaruwa. In Anuradhapura the ruins are quite far away from each other. There are also many lakes in here.

The second speciality ehich makes it an attractive tourist spot is the fact that there was an emperor Divanampiya Tissa. Under his rule the Buddhism flourished in Srilanka, which is still the official religion of Srilanka.

Just like polannaruwa either you will have to hire a bicycle, motorcycle or rikshaw. But unlike polannaruwa it’s not a flat area, so riding a bicycle is not as simple as it was in polannaruwa but it’s joyful.

The wothseeing and attractive tourist spots in Anuradhapura can be easily divided into 3 sections:

  1. There is a lake named Tissa Wiwa, on it’s shore there are ancient structures. The famous spots include Isurumuniya Vihara, Royal Pleasure Gardens, Sandahiru Seya which is a Buddhist temple, Mirisavatiya Dagoba which is another Buddhist temple. You can easily get a map of all these places from Anuradhapura or you can simply google it.
  2. The other section of tourist spots is in South of Anuradhapura. The famous tourist points in that section includes Sri Maha Bodhi which is a huge tree. About this tree it’s said that this was the tree in India under which Buddha got wisdom. And a branch of that tree was brought to Anuradhapura and planted here which grew up into a tree. That’s why Buddhist people visit this place atleast once in their life. Other spots include Brazen Palace, Archeological museum, Folk meusm, Buddhist Railing.
  3. The third section is in further south of the places we discussed earlier. It’s at some distance so by bicycle it’ll take 30 minutes to reach there. But the ruins of this group are much more beautiful and worth seeing. Some famous tourism attractions are Thuparama Dagoba, Dalada Maligawa, Mahapali Refactory and Royale Palace. All these place are on the shore of a pond.

Mihintale:

It is a very Holy place for Buddhist because it was the place from where Buddhism began to spread in Srilanka.

You can easily visit Mihintale in a day. You can cover this with Anuradhapura as well. You can easily reach Mihintale from Anuradhapura by bus in about 15 minutes. You can make a tour of Mihintale in whole day and can return back to Anuradhapura in evening.

This was all from my tour to Cultural Triangle of Srilanka.

In my next post I’ll come up with beaches of Srilanka.

See you soon!

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