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The Cultural Triangle

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Sri Lanka, known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is the proud title-holder to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Polonnaruwa is an ancient town where the main attractions are ruins that were added by the great king within the rectangle of city walls like enormous temples, palaces, parks and gardens that stand on the east shore of his greatest masterpiece, a vast artificial lake.

Rising 200 metres above the ground, Sigiriya Rock Fortress was constructed as a palace during the 4th century AD with its main priority being security. Surrounded by significant natural beauty it still has the remnants of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate, the Mirror wall and frescoes, a lower palace that clings to the slopes below the rock and the moats, walls and gardens that extend for a few hundred meters out from the base of the rock.

Located in the central part of the country lies the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Dambulla Cave Temples, with their gilded interior are made up of five separate caves adjoined together under a 160 m tall boulder. The caves contain beautifully maintained ancient statues and religious paintings which relate to Lord Buddha and his life on the inside dating back from the 15th and 16th centuries. The unique features that make this temple so remarkable is a 15 m long reclining.

Galle is an old colonial town situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka erected as a fort by the Portuguese that consisted of a single wall over-looking a moat which extended from the sea to the harbour. The Dutch converted this harbour into a single fortress and built an impressive line of defense, solidly ringing the walled town. To this day, the foreboding old walls attract many tourists and the town has grown around the historical buildings, spreading its glory to the surrounding areas and has been proclaimed an Archaeological Reserve, identified as a living World Heritage Site.

Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage site where worshippers still come to meditate here drawn to the Sri Maha Bodhi Bo-tree, grown from the original tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment in Northern India. Many other monuments have been beautifully restored and stand majestically next to the grand tank built by an ancient King.

Nestled amidst lush highlands of Sri Lanka, fortified by the terrain of mountains, Kandy is home to the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha which is kept in a golden casket in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.

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