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Archaeological Sites
  • The Inner Citadel of Polonaruwa, was Sri Lanka's heart of medival administration and is now home to some of the island's finest ruins. The administrative centre of Parakramabahu's capital was surrounded by walls that can still be clearly seen today. Within them the Vejayanta Pasada, the Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu, is still impressive and the massive brick walls of the main hall stand amid the ruins of about 40 interconnecting rooms. According to the Culavamsa chronicle, the palace rose to seven stories, but since the upper floors were wooden, no trace of them remains.

  • The Aukana Buddha dates back to the 8th century and is the island's best preserved ancient statue. The Aukana Buddha is about a 30km Northwest of Dambulla. This is a 13 meter (43 ft) tall gigantic statue and is a perfectly preserved ancient Buddha statue in Sri Lanka. The imposing image was curved out of a single rock with supreme assurance. Although the Abhayamudra Buddha stands erect, firmly planted on both feet, the body is graceful. This effect is helped by the beautifully flowing drapery which appears almost transparent.

  • Anuradhapura was the greatest monastic city of the ancient world and the heart of Sri Lankan civilization for over a millennium. At its height it was home to tens of thousands of monks at dozens of monasteries and served by a large lay population, which records suggest could have been nearly 2 million. Its architectural achievements gave it recognition the world over. The sheer scale of its buildings and their creators' attention to detail are, even today, simply breathtaking.

  • Ritigala houses some of Sri Lanka's distinctive ruins and will still give you that remote and undiscovered sensation. Rising 796 metres (2,513 ft) above sea-level, the forest monestry was discovered only 120 years ago by British surveyor James Martnell. There is a long list of royal fugitives who found refuge here , and its strategic positioning to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, gives this place the name "Safety Rock". Ritigala is thought to have been abandoned after the invasion of the Cholas who ransacked Anuradhapura and the surrounding monasteries in AD 993. This marketed the start of the shift in power to the new capital city of Polannaruwa.

  • Parakrama Samudra was built by king Parakramabahu in the 12th century and is one example of the island's ancient irrigation systems. Built to syply water for irrigation for the growing population of the capital, the legend has it that King Parakramabahu declared, "Not even a drop of water from the rain must flow into the ocean without being made useful to man". Parakrama Samudra means Sea of Parakrama, covers an area of 2,430 hectares (6,000 acres). This monumental feat of engineering had 11 channels leading water off in different directions to feed a network of irrigation canals and minor tanks.

  • Sigiriya the Lion rock was the home of the legendary King Kassapa who ruled the island during the 5th century from his magnificent lookout on top of this rock fortress. Rising 200 meters from the plain, the physical presence of Sigiriya is matched only by the enormity of the engineering undertaken by its creator. The summit of this almost inaccessible rock was the unlikely setting for a courtly paradise of elegant pavilions set amid gardens and pools. But even before the rock was transformed into this palatial impossibility Sigiriya was home to a monastic settlement constructed on its western and northern slopes. It was some 600 years later that the palace, of which only the remains can be seen today, was constructed.

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