The England tour of Sri Lanka once again brings the excitement of cricket to the island with five ODIs, three Tests and a T20. While flocking to the stadiums to cheer on the Lions, don’t forget to check out the manifold attractions that are waiting to be discovered in the area.
Visitors never fail to be amazed by the amount of history that surrounds the city of Dambulla. Famed for its rock cave temple and beautiful scenery, Dambulla is a popular destination for tourists. Its proximity to the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress is also another reason to visit the city, and many tourists are eager to make a combined tour of Dambulla and Sigiriya.
The Royal Rock Temple complex contains five separate caves that feature stunning Buddhist statues and paintings. Considered to be some of the most evocative Buddhist arts in Sri Lanka, the images are several centuries old. It is said that King Valagamba of Anuradhapura took refuge in the caves during the 1st century BC when the Chola invaded the island. Once he regained his throne, he converted the caves into a Temple, and over the centuries, later kings subsequently added more paintings. King Nissanka Malla had the cave interiors gilded, thus giving it the name Ran Giri (Golden Rock). From here, you can get superb views of the region and the Sigiriya rock.
The Golden Temple sits at the foot of the cave temples. The modern structure is built in the shape of a cube. A golden statue of Buddha in the dhammachakka mudra (wheel-turning pose) sits atop the building.
Museum of Wall Paintings
The Museum displays reproductions of Sri Lankan wall art that ranges from cave paintings to 18th century frescoes.
Sigiriya is one of the incredible wonders of the ancient world. Rising dramatically from the central plains, the rocky outcrop has a flat-topped summit. The remnants of an ancient civilisation dot the rock summit, which can only be discovered by scaling the series of staircases along the rock wall. The entrance lies between a pair of colossal lion’s paws carved out of the rock. On the way to the top, you will witness beautiful frescoes and the famous kurutu gee (graffiti) written on the Mirror Wall.
Cobra Hood Cave
The cave is located in the Boulder Garden in Sigiriya and you will come across it once you descend the rock and make your way to the south gate. It gets its name due to the overhang that resembles the hood of a fully opened cobra. Faint traces left on the plastered interior suggest that at some point the cave was adorned with floral and animal paintings.
A vigorous hike up the Pindurangala rock located near Sigiriya provides fantastic views of the rock fortress. The rock also affords lovely views of the sunrise and sunset. In addition, there are ancient frescoes inside the Pindurangala Temple.
Renowned for its International cricket stadium, Pallekele is a suburb in Kandy that is surrounded by green-capped hills and pristine natural beauty.
Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya
The cave temple was built by King Rajadi Rajasinha and contains paintings and architecture that reflect the customs and traditions of the Kandyan era. Four jathaka stories or tales from Buddha’s previous lives including the Vessantara Jathaka story, are depicted on the walls. The shrine room ceiling is adorned by the scene where Buddha defeats Mara (death) and his forces.
Located in Teldeniya, this is another rock cave temple with intricate and colourful frescoes that revolve around the life of Buddha and Buddha statues.
Trendy and chic, Colombo is the pulsing heart of Sri Lanka and a delightful juxtaposition of the old and the new.
One of the oldest religious sites in Colombo, Gangaramaya Temple is a serene site filled with stunning artistry. The temple was established by the famous scholar monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera in the late 19th Century. The museum at the temple houses a stunning collection of Buddhist statues and relics.
Rising over the narrow streets of Pettah, the Jamiul Alfar Masjid or the Red Mosque is a distinctive structure. Its Indo-Saracenic architecture and pomegranate-shaped domes are brought to life by the red and white painted bricks,cwhich are laid in contrasting designs.
Watch a live cricket screening
If you are not able to watch the match from the stadiums, you can still opt to share your enthusiasm for the sport with other fans. Cricket is the island’s most popular sport, so most café, pubs and bars will be screening the match live, ensuring you can wind and dine, while keeping tabs on the score. (Visit Cricket Club Café for live screenings and fabulous food.)
Galle Face Green
Fanned by the breeze that comes from the Indian Ocean, Galle Face Green is the perfect place to while the time away. The extensive grounds is perfect to play a game of casual cricket yourself, and the food stalls that line the walkway offer delectable street food to munch on.
Colombo National Museum
Discover the legacy of ancient Sri Lanka from the remnants preserved at the National Museum. The artefacts reveal the tale of island.
National Zoological Gardens Dehiwala
Spend a day witnessing the splendour of wild animals from around the world at the Dehiwela Zoo.
Situated at the bustling heart of Colombo, the Viharamahadevi Park is an oasis of serenity. The shade under towering trees are the perfect place to get lost in a good book. Or enjoy a leisurely walk along the winding walking paths.
The Independence Square is a national monument and the precincts surrounding it make for a fantastic place to relax. After exploring the carving that celebrate ancient Sri Lankan artistry, sit inside and enjoy the cool of the audience. The nearby walking tracks are perfect for a stroll, jog or run. The area is magical as the sun begins to set.
Built in 1749, the Wolvendaal Church in Pettah is a Dutch structure in the shape of a Greek cross. One of the main features of the church is its furniture; from the elegantly carved chairs of the special pew made by the Dutch governors, to the wooden pulpit, baptismal font and the lectern, each item is beautiful. The stone floor indicates the tombstones of past Dutch governors and colonists.
St Lucia’s Cathedral
Constructed in 1881, St Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena is the biggest church in Sri Lanka. While its interior is inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Italy, its interior is comparatively plain.
The Colombo Racecourse as an illustrious history, and even served the Allies as an airfield in WWII. After its modern day renovation, the Colombo Racecourse has been converted to a shopping precinct with upscale shops, while rugby action takes place on the grounds. It is also a popular venue for fairs and farmers’ markets.
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