Whenever you consider Sri Lanka, elephants, tea, and seashores would possibly come to thoughts earlier than Buddhist monuments. This South Asian island nation, simply south of India, is house to just about 6,000 elephants. It’s the world’s fourth-biggest tea producer. And it boasts greater than 1,300 kilometres of seashores.
Nevertheless, since Sri Lanka’s inhabitants consists 75% of Sinhalese-speaking Buddhists, it’s hardly stunning that a few of its most well-known historic sights are primarily based on that religion. Whether or not or not you adhere to its tenets, it’s fascinating to delve into Buddhist lore as you journey across the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”
Listed here are 4 magnificent monuments to see in Sri Lanka.
If you happen to’re a fan of 1980’s British New Wave rock bands, visiting Sigiriya is a should. Why? This stupendous granite monolith seems in Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer MTV video. Nevertheless, in contrast to singer Simon Le Bon, you most likely gained’t need to put on a white linen go well with if you climb up this 660-foot-tall rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site since 1982.
It’s about 1,200 steps to the Lion Rock summit, the place you’ll take pleasure in a panoramic view of the terrace gardens, boulder gardens, and water gardens under, in addition to the cloud-wreathed Knuckles Mountains. Discover the brick ruins of the palace of King Kashyapa I (473-495 CE), who constructed Sigiriya. The well-preserved frescoes of celestial nymphs you’ll see en path to the highest additionally date to the Buddhist king’s reign. The north facet of Sigiriya as soon as featured a colossal stone lion. All that’s left are its paws, which nonetheless encourage awe at the moment.
After Kashyapa’s dying, Sigiriya functioned as a Buddhist monastery till the 14th century. But the stray canine who abound on web site aren’t notably reverent. They sleep in all places and anyplace, together with on the slender metallic staircase teeming with guests. Watch your step!
2. Dambulla Cave Temple
Only a half-hour drive from Sigiriya, the Dambulla Cave Temple presents a treasure trove of Buddhist paintings in its 5 caves, together with 153 statues of the faith’s founder, sitting, standing, and reclining.
Renovated and redecorated at numerous factors within the Anuradhapura (377 BC-1073 AD), Pollonaruwa (1073-1250), and Kandy (1469-1815) epochs, this commemorated monastery additionally consists of vibrant murals of gods and demons. This UNESCO World Heritage Web site, occupying a hilltop granite outcropping, is greater than 2,000 years previous.
On the trail as much as the Dambulla Cave Temple, be careful for toque macaques. These vigorous monkeys, endemic to Sri Lanka, groom each other, nibble on flowers, and periodically sprint off into the bushes. And on the best way again down, the 2000-constructed Golden Temple, topped with an enormous golden Buddha, offers an unmissable picture op.
three. Gangaramaya Temple
The environment on the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest metropolis, is as serene as it’s eclectic. Constructed within the 19th century close to Beira Lake, it welcomes everybody from Sri Lankan politicians searching for the blessing of monks to barefooted Western guests taking shelter from monsoon rains.
The ornate ceiling vividly illustrates Buddha’s interval of aspiration earlier than reaching enlightenment. Worshippers recite incantations together with their choices: “I’ve introduced this flower for Buddha. I perceive it can spoil by the top of the day, and my life too is transient.”
The Gangaramaya Temple additionally showcases a panoply of donated gadgets, from furnishings and copper bells to wristwatches and eyeglasses. Exterior, take a look at an eight-ton Samadhi Buddha statue, manufactured from white jade from Myanmar.
four. Temple of the Tooth
Positioned within the metropolis of Kandy within the central highlands of Sri Lanka, the Temple of the Tooth attracts greater than 1,000,000 guests yearly as a significant Buddhist shrine. Initially constructed in 1595, it holds what’s apparently the Buddha’s left canine tooth, preserved after his dying and cremation in 543 BC in India. The octagonal Pathirippuwa pavilion, fronted by a moat, is dramatically lit at night time.
The tooth is ceremonially introduced out in a golden case 3 times per day. Some imagine that it grants the divine proper to rule. It’s definitely fascinating to look at the surging fervour that this relic evokes within the white-clad trustworthy.
The Temple of the Tooth was broken by bombing in 1998 through the 26-year Sri Lankan civil struggle. Immediately, the rhythms of turbaned drummers, who carry out amid heavy incense and amplified chants, have changed the sounds of struggle. As with different sacred Buddhist websites, guarantee your legs and arms are adequately coated previous to visiting.
Wish to see the monuments of Sri Lanka for your self? G Adventures can get you there. Try our small group excursions to Sri Lanka right here.