The Ancient Cities of Sri Lanka was what I was most excited about seeing before our visit but I had to be patient. Day one was always likely to be just getting settled and looking around Kandy and so on the second day we decided to do a long day tour taking in some of the sights of Polunnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. I would have liked to visit Anuradhapura too but, after much deliberation, I decided that it was a little too north for us to do. It was an early 6am start for us (actually quite easy as we pretty much stayed on Japan time throughout our Sri Lanka trip) and was nearly 10 am by the time we experienced our first ruins at the Royal Palace Group. One can only imagine what these structures looked like during the 12th century.
Not too far away from there was the area known as Quadrangle which possesses a cluster of enchanting remains. A picture is apparently worth a thousand words, so instead of trying to write a few paragraphs about something I know very little of I’ll just leave you with some of my favourite pictures from this compact group of ruins.
What surprised me about many of these ruins was that you still had to remove your shoes (and hats) before entering. Of course that’s all fair enough for such sacred places but it was all a far cry from the likes of the Taj Mahal in India or Shwedagaon Paya in Mynamar! Instead we had to walk over grass, mud, gravel and so on!
I’m not really a coconut fan but there’s always something a little exotic about drinking the water from one! Once the liquid had been consumed, the old lady selling them then chopped it up ready for my wife to scrape out the inside ready for eating.
Only a bit of research tells me that the next place must have been Lankatilaka. The highlight of this area is undoubtedly the cathedral-like building with its 17 metre-high walls and a headless Buddha which inevitably resulted in me making some inappropriate head-related gags from ‘Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery‘ (1997) such as “Not a good time to lose ones head….Pity he wasn’t more head-strong….Not the best way to get a-head in life….Guess he’ll never be the head of a major corporation….”
Of course there are way more sites to see in Polunnaruwa but with limited time we just had to choose the big hitters which was fine for us both as you can get ruins-fatgue at places like this and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Our final destination was Gal Vihara which contains some marvellous buddha images carved from rock including a seven metre-tall standing one and a 14 metre reclining one that reminded my wife of my occasional sleeping position!
It costs $25 (or the Sri Lanka Rupees equivalent) to access these sights via the Cultural Triangle round ticket which can be purchased at the Archaeological Museum. The Royal Palace and Quadrangle are within walking distance but the other sights featured in this post require a car or bicycle to get to them.
Click here to read ‘Sri Lanka 2017 Pt III: Sigiriya Rock’