The heartland of Sri Lanka contains several World Heritage listed sites, and because they are close together, these can easily be combined in one superb cultural tour.
The sacred city of Kandy was the last royal capital of Sri Lanka. It has a cooler climate than the coastal lowlands, and is the cultural capital of the island. With its hills and lake, it is also probably Sri Lanka's most beautiful town.
The focal point of the town is the golden-roofed Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, where the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is enshrined. The Esala Perahera festival, held in July and August each year, is the highlight of the calendar. There are numerous other shrines and temples in and around Kandy, and just outside town the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, with 60 beautiful hectares of trees, plants and flowers are well worth a visit.
In central Sri Lanka, just 3 hours from Colombo by car, lies the Bogawantalawa Valley, known as the Golden Valley of Tea and home to old Ceylon, rolling green hills, plantation bungalows, and high tea.
Back in the tropical lowlands to the north of Kandy lie several of Sri Lanka's finest cultural attractions. The cave temples of Dambulla house ancient frescoes and a huge reclining figure of the Buddha, carved out of the rock. From Dambulla, the extraordinary site of Sigiriya - a massive rock fortress, and arguably the highlight of any tour - is easily reached.
Finally, tour the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. These once great (and still tongue-twisting) cities have been reclaimed from the jungle by archaeologists, and are fascinating to wander around on foot or by bicycle. Polonnaruwa was a medieval capital, while Anuradhapura was once the greatest monastic city of the ancient world.
|Cultural Triangle & Tea Plantations|