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Anuradhapura

206 km north of Colombo, and located on the dry plains of the North Central Province, the ruins at Anuradhapura tell tales of a royal capital of 113 successive kings who made it the greatest monastic city of the ancient world. Situated within the Cultural Triangle, this ancient city was established in 500BC and served as an administrative centre of Sri Lanka and as the island's capital for 1400 years. The oldest historically documented tree on earth - the Sacred Bo Tree - is also located in this city. The perfection and scale of the dagobas or relic chambers like the Ruwanveliseya, Abhayagiri and the Jetavanarama, which are the largest in the world, are staggering, the latter vying with the largest pyramids at a height of 122m. The city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Anuradhapura is rich in history and culture. This is a charming place for people interested in historical monuments.

Dambulla

Situated 72 km north of Kandy, Dambulla marks the geographical centre of the island and the Cultural Triangle. It also holds its own treasure - a magnificent temple, which is a series of five caves established as a monastery in the 3rd Century BC. These caves, built at the base of a 150m high rock during the Anuradhapura (1st Century BC to 993 AD) and Polonnaruwa times (1073 to 1250), are by far the most impressive of the many cave temples found in Sri Lanka. Access is along the gentle slope of the Dambulla Rock, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding flat lands, which includes the rock fortress Sigiriya, 19kms away. Families of friendly monkeys make the climb even more interesting. Dusk brings hundreds of swooping swallows to the cave entrance. The city includes the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The city also boasts to have the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia.

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was the medieval capital of Sri Lanka where art, architecture and engineering were revived into a cultural epoch, is a monument to Sri Lanka's great renaissance. Polonnaruwa lies 216 km northeast of Colombo, 140kms northeast of Kandy and 104kms southeast of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka's medieval capital (11th - 12th Century AD) is a well-preserved city of ancient dagobas, moonstones, beautiful parks, massive buildings and stunningly beautiful statues. The majestic King's Council Chamber, the Lotus Bath, the Lanka Thilaka Viharaya, the Gal Viharaya (rock temple) and the statue of one of Polonnaruwa's great kings, Parakramabahu, are a few of this capital's memorable sights. The Sea of Parakrama - a vast 12th century man-made reservoir dominates the city. Although it is nearly 1000 years old, it is much younger than Anuradhapura, and in much better repair. Moreover, the monuments here are located in a more compact area, and their development is easier to follow. The place is extremely beautiful and used as a backdrop to film scenes for the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya rock rises 200 meters above lush green jungles, and is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Asia's oldest landscaped gardens and ponds encircle this rock fortress, and at its summit is the renegade King Kasyapa's "palace in the sky". Fifth century ingenuity and skill produced a luxurious royal citadel with ramparts, moats, gateways, and a well laid out city, complete with bathing pools and gardens. On the climb up you could view the Mirror Wall, which still produces a glass-like reflection 1500 years after it was first created. Also on the way up you would see the famous Sigiriya frescoes - exquisite images of bare-breasted maidens painted on the rock face thousands of years ago. Located in the Cultural Triangle, Sigiriya is situated in the district of Matale.

Yapahuwa

The rock fortress complex of Yapahuwa is situated in the Wayamba province of Sri Lanka. About 4 km southeast of the town and railway station of Maho, midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. Yapahuwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 13th century (1273-1284). Built on a huge, 90 meter high rock boulder in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress, Yapahuwa was a palace and military stronghold against foreign invaders