Sri Lanka is a country with one of the oldest cultures in the world. Venturing on a Sri Lanka culture tour is the best way to explore the rich historical past of Sri Lanka. In this article, we highlight the 7 best places to explore during a Sri Lanka cultural tour.
Table of Contents
- Why should I take a Sri Lanka cultural tour?
- The Evolution of Sri Lankan Culture in the dry-zone
- Sri Lanka Culture and customs
- What are the top 7 places included in the Sri Lanka culture tour?
- What is the best itinerary for the Sri Lanka culture tour?
- Sri Lanka: a 4-day cultural tour
- Sri Lanka 4 days cultural triangle itinerary
- Important monuments included in the Sri Lanka cultural tour
- Venturing on a Sri Lanka culture tour to see cultural tourist attractions
- A few useful links about places in Sri Lanka
- What are the six best Sri Lanka culture tours?
- 5 alternative places for a Sri Lanka culture tour
- Sri Lanka cultural triangle
- Exploring Sri Lanka’s culture and heritage beyond the cultural triangle
- 1.Sri Lanka culture tour to Anuradhapura
- Cultural and historical facts of Anuradhapura
- 2. Sri Lanka culture tour to Polonnaruwa
- 3. Sri Lanka culture tour Colombo
- 4. Sri Lanka culture tour to Sigiriya
- Cultural and historical facts of Sigiriya
- 5. Sri Lanka culture tour to Dambulla cave temple
- Importance of the Dambulla historical site
- 6. Sri Lanka culture tour to Kandy
- 8. Sri Lanka culture tour to Nuwara Eliya
- What are the two most popular cultural tours in Sri Lanka?
- Grand Sri Lanka cultural tour 3 days tour
- What are the places included in the grand Sri Lanka culture tour?
- What is the duration of the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
- What is the cost of a grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
- What is the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
- A mini cultural tour of Sri Lanka
- What are the places included in the Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
- What is the duration of the Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
- What is the itinerary for Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour in a nutshell?
- What is the cost of a Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
- How to book Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour or a grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
Why should I take a Sri Lanka cultural tour?
Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle tour allows you to witness the evidence of one of the oldest and most prosperous ancient cultures in the world. The cultural triangle tour mainly covers the ancient and historical monuments in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s culture also includes five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tour includes important historical places, and the travellers explore four major cities on the tour: Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy.
The Evolution of Sri Lankan Culture in the dry-zone
During this political and dynastic unrest that prevailed during the king’s time, it was an invitation for foreign rulers to interfere with Sri Lanka’s interior political affairs, and under these circumstances, Sinhalese culture experienced fundamental change. Rice cultivation went on as the pillar of agriculture yet was, as of now, not reliant upon an intricate irrigation network. In the wet zone, enormous-scope regulatory participation was not quite as fundamental as it had been previously. Foreign trade became very important to the Sinhalese kings. Specifically, cinnamon—overwhelmingly popular with Europeans—turned into a great commodity. Due to the high value of cinnamon, the city of Kotte on the west coast (close to present-day Colombo) turned into the nominal capital of the Sinhalese Kings during the fifteenth century. In any case, the Sinhalese kingdom remained separated into various small territories.
The development of the dry-zone irrigation system presupposes a high level of organisation and an enormous workforce to build and maintain the works. The downfall of these public works reflected the breakdown in the social order. Another component that appears to have retarded the resettlement of the dry zone was the fast spreading of malaria in the thirteenth century. The mosquito found very suitable breeding places in the dilapidated tanks and canals. (Malaria fever has frequently followed the destruction of water management systems in different places in Asia.) For sure, all endeavours at large-scale resettlement of the dry zone in Sri Lanka proved to be futile until the introduction of current pesticides.
Sri Lanka Culture and customs
The culture of Sri Lanka blends present-day components with traditional aspects and has a unique diversity within the region. Theravada Buddhism, which originated in India, has had a significant influence on Sri Lankan culture for a very long time, and the island’s southern and central regions are particularly representative of the religion’s heritage. South Indian social impacts are particularly visible in the northernmost part of the country. The historical backdrop of colonial occupation has likewise left an imprint on Sri Lankan life, with Portuguese, Dutch, and British elements mixed with different traditional features of Sri Lankan culture. Moreover, Indonesian culture has additionally impacted specific parts of Sri Lankan culture. Socially, Sri Lanka has solid connections to India and Southeast Asia.
Cultural traditions and practises are highly appreciated on the island. The teachings of Buddha have established an influence on the lives of the people of Sri Lanka over the past 2,000 years. Theravada Buddhism is the main branch of Buddhism, and Sri Lanka is a leading country with Theravada Buddhism. Buddhism has shaped the lives of people, their traditions, customs, and rituals. Buddhism is the main religion of the Sinhalese people, who are mainly concentrated in the south, west, and central parts of the country. More than 70% of the population adheres to Buddhism. Buddhism is an integral part of Sri Lankan culture and tradition.
Buddhist temples are included in most Sri Lanka cultural tour packages, especially if you book a multi-day tour itinerary like a 7-day Sri Lanka cultural trip or a 10-day Sri Lanka cultural tour. Visiting a Buddhist temple can be a bit complicated for some because visitors must adhere to the rules and regulations of the temple. The rules govern the dress code of the visitors when making photos of the statues as well as greeting the monks. Never touch or pat the Buddha statues. Never take photos at the temple while standing with your backside directed to the Buddha statue.
The nation has a rich artistic background and tradition, with particularly inventive structures that revolve around music, dance, and the visual arts. Sri Lankan culture is globally connected with cricket, a distinct food, a native holistic medicine practise, strict iconography like the Buddhist flag, and commodities like tea, cinnamon, and gemstones, as well as a robust travel industry. Sri Lanka has longstanding ties with the Indian subcontinent that can be traced back to ancient times. Sri Lanka’s populace is mainly Sinhalese, with sizable Sri Lankan Tamil, Sri Lankan Muslim, Indian Tamil, Sri Lankan Malay, and Burgher minorities.
What are the top 7 places included in the Sri Lanka culture tour?
Sri Lanka has a large number of temples, stupas, dagobas, shrines, forts, palaces, museums, gardens, and many other cultural and historical monuments. These cultural and historical places are scattered in many parts of Sri Lanka. However, owing to their convenience, historical importance, and cultural value, tourist attractions in the cultural triangle are the most popular and are included in most Sri Lanka cultural tour packages. Our author has chosen the below-mentioned 7 cities as the top places for the Sri Lanka culture tour package by considering their importance and adaptability as tourist attractions to the Sri Lanka tour package.
Sri Lanka is a popular Buddhist country, with a majority of the population believing in the teachings of Buddha; therefore, Sri Lanka attracts a large number of Buddhist pilgrims every year. Sri Lanka is an attractive destination for Buddhist travellers from many countries, such as Thailand, China, Japan, and Myanmar. Travellers who are interested in history, culture, and Buddhism should start their Sri Lanka cultural tour in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Many dozens of ancient monuments and Buddhist religious places are concentrated in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
Legend has it that Buddha himself presented on the island in the 6th century BC. At Sri Lanka’s holy mountain, Adam’s Peak, travellers can make an arduous yet interesting tour on foot to witness one of the oldest temples on earth. The travellers should climb the 2243-meter-tall mountain and reach the temple on the summit, where they can witness the footprint of Buddha engraved on a granite rock. According to the legend, Buddha visited the temple at the invitation of God Saman.
What is the best itinerary for the Sri Lanka culture tour?
Sri Lanka 4 days cultural tour is planned to visit important historical, religious, and cultural monuments in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. The tour starts in Colombo or a selected beach hotel. The tour includes the below-mentioned historical monuments as well as many other interesting activities such as wildlife tours, village tours, shopping, and Ayurveda healing massages.
Sri Lanka: a 4-day cultural tour
- Colombo >>Anuradhapura>>Sigiriya
Important monuments included in the Sri Lanka cultural tour
- Ruwanweli Stupa
- Kuttam Pokuna
- Parakrama palace
- Rankoth Vihara
- Tooth relic temple
- Dambulla golden temple
Venturing on a Sri Lanka culture tour to see cultural tourist attractions
The island of Sri Lanka is a land steeped in history and culture, from Anuradhapura in the cultural triangle, an ancient city with a history dating back to the 3rd century BC, to the 16th-century mediaeval city of Galle, with uninterrupted human habitation over the last many centuries in southern Sri Lanka, which is given the emblem of a UNESCO world heritage site due to its historical and architectural importance. Attractions steeped in religion, heritage, and history can be witnessed in many parts of Sri Lanka, giving travellers the valuable opportunity to uncover the stories that have made the destination what it is today.
Sri Lanka is a country with one of the oldest cultures in the world. Most importantly, Sri Lankan culture has been uninterrupted for more than thousands of years, despite the South Indian and European invasions. Stone age people lived in Sri Lanka, believed to be the origin of Sri Lankan culture. These tribal folks are known as Yaksas and Nagas. Today, a small number of descendants of these folks are living in some parts of Sri Lanka; they are popularly known as the “Vedda community”.
Later, in the Stone Age, the people of Sri Lanka mingled with other cultures, creating a unique culture with many unique characteristics. Therefore, Sri Lanka has become the birthplace and cradle of one of the major cultures in the world.
The rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka and more than half a dozen UNESCO world heritage sites allure travellers from all corners of the world. The Sri Lankan culture is spiced up with many cultures and traditions. A myriad number of places across the island, such as temples and churches, speak about the same.
Cultural tourism is an important part of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, and it takes visitors beyond palm-fringed beaches, the magical healing power of Ayurveda, green-capped mountains, and utmost lavishness. With a Sri Lanka cultural tour, travellers are exposed to some of the oldest cultural sites in the world, numerous art forms, and authentic food trails.
So, if you are a cultural buff and like to explore a few Sri Lankan cultural sites, here is a list of 10 cultural sites in Sri Lanka that are a testament to the awe-inspiring architecture and the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.
A few useful links about places in Sri Lanka
What are the six best Sri Lanka culture tours?
- Sri Lanka culture tour with Colombo sightseeing tour, Gangarama and Wovendaal church
- Sri Lanka culture tour with Sigiriya-Dambulla-Polonnaruwa
- Sri Lanka culture tour with Sigiriya-Dambulla-Kandy
- Sri Lanka culture tour with Anuradhapura-Polonnaruwa-Sigiriya-Dambulla-Kandy
- Sri Lanka culture tour with Glle
- A grand culture tour of Sri Lanka
5 alternative places for a Sri Lanka culture tour
- Tour to Adams peak
- Culture tour to Pidurangala cave temple
- Cultural tour of the Aukana Buddha statue
- Tour to Kataragama temple
- Cultural tour to Sita Amman temple
Sri Lanka cultural triangle
A Sri Lanka cultural tour is never complete without visiting the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is tucked away about 200 km from Colombo. Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle harbours a large number of stupas, dagoba, palaces, gardens, Buddhist temples, statues, and many other ancient structures. Usually, the cultural tour of Sri Lanka starts with a visit to Anuradhapura, which is the oldest capital of Sri Lanka, dating back to the 3rd century BC. According to historical facts, the city was founded during the reign of King Pandukabhaya. The city was built as one of the most advanced cities at that time, and it was inhabited by many thousands of people.
Exploring Sri Lanka’s culture and heritage beyond the cultural triangle
Visiting Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is very important to travellers with an interest in history, culture, and religious history in Sri Lanka. But for a special Sri Lanka cultural trip, it is important to explore heritage across Sri Lanka. As an experienced tour operator, we suggest our customers combine their cultural triangle tour with the southern Sri Lanka tour and also visit the western coast of Sri Lanka, giving them the opportunity to embark on a cultural tour of southern Sri Lanka, a wildlife tour, a city break, and a top coastal spot in the same visit. On Sri Lanka’s south coast, we recommend travellers get their bearings by exploring the Galle Fort, which is one of the very few living ancient cities in the world dating back to the 15th century AD. The city spreads over 52 acres of land and is protected by huge, magnificent walls. These more than 500-year-old structures make up an example of a completely intact walled city in Sri Lanka and are some of the finest in the world.
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour is 200 km
The duration of the trip to the cultural city of Anuradhapura from the airport is 5 hours
Anuradhapura marks the northernmost city of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, which is one of the most important cultural places in Sri Lanka and also the most ancient city on the island, dating back to the 3rd century BC. Anuradhapura is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1982.
Anuradhapura hides hundreds of temples, palaces, stone sculptures, and many valuable monuments; therefore, Anuradhapura is a part of most Sri Lanka cultural tours. The city was established by the first king of Sri Lanka, Walagambahu, in the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s central province.
Cultural and historical facts of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka until the 10th century AD, and more than 100 Sri Lankan kings ruled the island from Anuradhapura. Due to the South Indian invasions, the Sri Lankan kings largely neglected the city. However, it had been a flourishing city for more than a thousand years and had been a well-planned city with temples, palaces, lakes, parks, and a road network.
According to historians, the city was planned in such a way that the inner city was in the middle of the city, with the king’s palace and temples. The immediate outer layer consisted of houses for the general public, and the next outer layer was farmlands such as rice paddies and vegetable plots. The outermost circles were the lakes and jungle.
Important historical places in Anuradhapura: Sri Maha Bodhi (ficus religiosa), Jetawanarama Dagoba, Abhayagiriya, and Ruwanweli Dagoba are the most prominent sites to visit in Anuradhapura.
How to explore Anuradhapura historical site: Apart from the places mentioned above, this historical city hosts a large number of other crumbling monuments. There are many other historical monuments, Buddha statues, stone sculptures, Dagobas (dorm-shaped structures found in Buddhist temples), museums, and many other monuments that make Anuradhapura one of the best historical sites to experience Sri Lankan culture and heritage.
Ruwanweli Seya, Isurumuniya, Thuparama, Jetawanarama, Abhayagiriya, Samadhi Buddha Statue, and Twin Pond are the most visited places in Anuradhapura. A walk through the archaeological museum of Anuradhapura provides an enriching experience of the rich historical past history of Anuradhapura.
Food in Anuradhapura: the cultural heritage of Anuradhapura is remarkable, but your historical tour to Anuradhapura should not be restricted to the archaeological site; there is authentic Sri Lankan cuisine that can’t be missed in Anuradhapura.
How to reach Anuradhapura
- By Air: Major cities like Colombo and Kandy are easily accessible by air from Anuradhapura. The domestic airport of Colombo is within easy reach of the Anuradhapura historical site. There are daily flights from Colombo to Anuradhapura.
- Train: The train is the most popular way of reaching Anuradhapura from Colombo. Anuradhapura is connected with Colombo by a railway track, and a few express trains ply between the two cities on a daily basis. Travelling by train is cheap and convenient, and it saves time too.
- By road: Most foreign tourists book package tours (Sri Lanka cultural tours), using road transport to travel to Anuradhapura. Because they are provided with a car, van, or coach to travel during their trip. However, using public buses to travel can be very inconvenient. Travelling by public bus is cheap, but it sucks your time.
There are few other places to experience Sri Lankan culture and heritage in Anuradhapura
Yapahuwa: Yapahuwa is another historical city of Sri Lanka but quite unknown to most travellers. Therefore, the tourist traffic heading to Yapahuwa is minimal. Yapahuwa was the capital of Sri Lanka for a brief period in the 13th century, but later it was abandoned due to the South Indian invasions. Yapahuwa had been a fortress similar to Sigiriya, and it was protected by a ring of walls and ditches.
Kala wewa: Kala wewa is a reservoir that provided water to the ancient city of Anuradhapura during its heyday. The lake is still one of the most important resources for water and stores a large amount of rainwater during the monsoon. Kalawewa was the largest irrigation work that originated during the Anuradhapura period. Kalawewa was built in the 5th century AD, under the reign of King Dhatusena.
Sandungira Raja Maha Vihara: According to history this ancient temple was built under the guidance of King Saddatissa, during the Anuradhapura period (4th-century BC-11th century AD). Sandungira temple is mostly visited by local travellers and devotees and it is not included in most Sri Lanka cultural tours, that are crafted for foreign travellers.
Historical Ayurved hospital: The ruins of an ancient Ayurveda hospital were discovered within the archaeological site of Anuradhapura. The Ayurveda hospital is believed to date back from 898 AD to 914 AD. The hospital served the monks who lived in the Thuparama temple complex.
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour is 230 km
The duration of the trip to the cultural city of Anuradhapura from the airport is 5 hours
Cultural and historical facts about Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa, the second most historical capital of Sri Lanka, is ranked high among the cultural places in Sri Lanka to experience Sri Lankan culture and heritage. Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1982. Polonnaruwa dates back to the 10th century AD and was ruled by 3 important kings, King Parakramabahu, Vijayabahu the great and Nissankamalla.
The city boasts a distinctive culture owing to the amalgamation of Hindu & Buddhist cultures. Furthermore, during the reign of Parakramabahu many important achievements had been reached in the areas of religion, culture, water management, agriculture, and literature. During this period many important literary works were carried out by local scholars such as Dipawamsa, Thupawamsa. Many dozens of important irrigation projects were carried out during this period including Parakaramasamudra.
Important historical places in Polonnaruwa: Parakrama Samudra, Parakrama palace, Gal Viharaya, Ruwanweli dagoba, and Alahana Pirivena complex are the most popular tourist places in Polonnaruwa.
Exploring the historical places of Polonnaruwa: Polonnaruwa archaeological site is a UNESCO world heritage site and it houses a large number of ancient structures such as temples, audience halls, and palaces. There had been 3 major Kings, who contributed to the development of the city Vijayabahu the great, Parakramabahu and Nissankamalla.
Parakramabahu statue, Parakramasamudra and the historical museum of Polonnaruwa are also among the important sites in Polonnaruwa and are located outside of the Polonnaruwa ancient city.
Usually, most Sri Lanka cultural tours include Polonnaruwa due to its historical and cultural value. Cycle through the city is one of the most popular ways of exploring the city while some others are using vehicles to travel between monuments.
Food specialities Even though Polonnaruwa is not popular for its own food varieties Polonnaruwa produces a large amount of fruit and vegetable on the island. There are few cooking classes in Polonnaruwa and they are specially served for foreign travellers.
How to reach Polonnaruwa
- Road transport is the best way of reaching Polonnaruwa from Colombo and all other parts of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa is connected with all major cities such as Colombo, Kandy, and Matara and direct buses are plying to Polonnaruwa from all major cities on the island.
The city of Colombo lies about 30 km south of Colombo international airport
The duration of the trip to Colombo from the airport is 1 hour
Colombo – Colombo is one of the places that are very popular for Sri Lanka day outings. The cosmopolitan & commercial capital city of Sri Lanka – has been strongly influenced by many cultures and religions. Colombo was visited by foreign merchants way back in the 6th century AD and many ships from Greek, Mesopotamia, Arab, China, India and many other countries called on the harbour in order to sell their goods and collect essential items required for their journey.
Colombo was also under the strong influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Colombo was used as the main port and trade emporium during the colonial period of Sri Lanka from 1505 to 1948. Those colonial rulers left behind a part of their selves in the form of Palaces, monuments, parks, artefacts, literary works, customs, festivals, and more.
Today Colombo is a cultural melting pot with a dozen ethnic groups and religious groups.
What’s special: Kaiman gate, Wolvendaal Church, Old Fort, Parliament and Gangarama temple are the most prominent tourist sites in Colombo.
For a walk through the city’s culture: venturing on a Colombo walking tour is the best way of exploring the city of Colombo. Usually, most Historical tours of Sri Lanka include Colombo and travellers visit places such as Gangarama temple, Fort, Pettah, Parliament, Viharamahadevi and town hall. A large number of museums, galleries, cultural centres, theatres and various food outlets together make Colombo one of the best places of Sri Lankan cultural heritage.
How to reach
- By Air: Colombo international airport is well connected with all major cities around the world. Ratmalana domestic airport near the city centre provides a convent way of reaching all major cities of Sri Lanka by air.
- By Ship: Colombo harbour is the biggest harbour in Sri Lanka and welcomes hundreds of cruises every year.
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour is 177 km
The duration of the trip to the cultural site of Sigiriya from the airport is 4 hours
By far Sigiriya is the most popular iconic tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, every Sri Lanka cultural tour covers this UNESCO world heritage site, therefore, don’t miss it if you plan a trip to Sri Lanka. The grandeur of Sigiriya surpasses all other tourist hotspots in a cultural triangle when it comes to history and heritage.
As the name suggests Sigiriya is a natural rock tucked away 160 from Colombo. The rock rises up to 500 meters from the sea level. And his gigantic granite rock is one of the most popular tourist attractions today.
Cultural and historical facts of Sigiriya
Sigiriya rock fortress dates back to the 5th century AD and it is one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, surrounded by walls and moats. The Fort of Sigiriya inherits an advanced water management system with fountains, an underground drainage system and swimming pools.
King Kashyapa built the inaccessible stronghold of Sigiriya rock fortress in the 5th century AD, in order to hide from the wrath of his half-brother Moggalana. The king lived in the fort for 18 years, until the return of Moggalana with his army and kill him in a battle.
The world-renowned Sigiriya fresco paintings are to be found in the rock fortress of Sigiriya. The fresco paintings that are depicting figures of ladies are believed to be as old as the fort (1500 years). According to the estimates, there had been 500 such figures painted on the surface of the rock fort. However, most of them are diminished over the century and a small pocket of frescoes with 28 figures remains. However, the remaining paintings are well protected and under the supervision of the archaeological department. The figures are in very good shape and the natural colours of the paintings are still very bright.
What’s special: The swimming pool in the terraced garden, Fresco pocket, pleasure garden, miniature water garden, fountains garden, and Octagonal pond are some of the important palaces in Sigiriya. The fresco paintings are well protected; however, the visitors are not allowed to flash in front of the paintings as it could harm them.
Importance of Sigiriya as a historical place
Sigiriya is not only important as a historical and cultural site, but it most importantly shows the advanced knowledge of ancient engineers. Sigiriya rock fortress suggests that ancient engineers had a thorough grasp of trigonometry and hydraulic principle.
Climbing the historical site of Sigiriya
Sigiriya rock climb can be a daunting task for old people, and people with back problems and knee injuries. Climbing to the summit of the rock is the expectation of every visitor. The breathtaking view from the summit over the surrounding area is a reward for the untiring effort. Sometimes there are many ruins to see on top of the rock such as a swimming pool, remnants of many buildings and a granite throng. It is believed that King Kshayapa lived in a palace, which was built on top of a rock.
How to reach Sigiriya:
- By Road: Road transport is the most popular way of reaching the Sigiriya rock fortress. Sigiriya is well connected with the nearby major city of Dambulla. All travellers, who use public transport should first travel to Dambulla city and then take a Sigiriya-bound bus.
- By Air: Air transportation is also a viable option to reach Sigiriya rock. There are direct flights from Colombo to Sigiriya on a daily basis for passengers, who are interested in saving time on travelling
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour is 160 km
The duration of the trip to Dambulla from the airport is 4 hours
Buddhist temples are very important cultural places in Sri Lanka. Visiting Buddhist temples is a very important activity for travellers to learn about the culture of Sri Lanka. Temple is the best place to feel the culture and tradition of Sri Lanka. This chapter is dedicated to one of the cultural hot spots on the island namely the Dambulla golden cave temple. cultural places in Sri Lanka
Importance of the Dambulla historical site
Dambulla is popular in the world as one of the oldest cave temples in the world and it is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991. The Dambulla golden cave temple dates back to the 1st century BC and is one of the oldest cave temples in the world. Dambulla is also a very popular tourist attraction and is included in most Sri Lanka cultural torus. This duo Sigiriya and Dambulla is part of every Sri Lanka cultural tour and they are the most visited sites in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
Countless Buddha statues, god figures, statues of kings & paintings depicting various sceneries of the life of Buddha can be seen in the temples of Dambulla. The perfect amalgamation of Buddhism and Hinduism in its culture and heritage makes Dambulla one of the must-visit cultural sites in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
Dambulla golden cave temple hides hundreds of Buddha statues. There are many thousands of square meters of wall and ceiling paintings to be found in the caves, all depicting various sceneries from the life of Buddha. The paintings and statues originated in past under the reign of Sri Lankan kings. The temple is a classic example of the artistic capabilities of Sri Lankan ancient artisans.
What’s special: Temple is hidden from the busy town of Dambulla and it is residing on the western slope of Dambulla rock. The Buddha statues and paintings are placed in 5 natural caves, they are well protected by the heat of the sun and rain. However, the accumulation of humidity has caused some damage to the paintings over the last several decades.
Visiting temples needs to be done with care if you are not familiar with visiting Buddhist religious sites. The dress should be suitable to visit a temple and there are several other rules to follow when you visit a Buddhist temple. Click here to read more about things you need to know before visiting a Buddhist temple.
For a walk-through of the Dambulla cave temple: the hike at Dambulla is very easy compared to the hike at Sigiriya. You have to climb 120 steps in Sigiriya and they are narrow and irregular in height. However, the steps at Dambulla are newly created and you need to have only about a 10-minute hike to reach the temple.
How to reach the Dambulla cave temple:
- By Road: Road transport is the most popular way of reaching the Dambulla golden cave temple. Dambulla is well connected with all corners of the island and there are direct buses to Dambulla from major cities such as Kandy, Jaffna and Colombo.
- By Air: Air transportation is also a viable option to reach Dambulla golden cave temple. There are direct flights from Colombo to Dambulla on a daily basis for passengers, who are interested in saving time on travelling.
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour is 115 km
The duration of the trip to Kandy from the airport is 3 hours
The mountainous terrain in the middle of the island passed on from the hands of the Sri Lanka monarchy to those of the representatives of the British East India Company is often tagged as the cultural centre of Sri Lanka.
Historical facts about Kandy
Kandy is among the most important cultural places in Sri Lanka and Kandy houses the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island, popularly known as the tooth relic temple, where the left-eye tooth Buddha resides. The history of temples goes back to a monarchy, and it was the last kingdom of the Sri Lankan monarchy, Kandy was founded by King Vikrama Bahu 3 (1267-1301 AD) and it remained the capital of Sri Lanka until 1815 AD.
Sri Lanka mountain is nestled in the middle of the island and rises up to 2524 meters above sea level. Kandy is a beautiful city surrounded by misty hills and tea plantations. The city itself boasts to have a large extent of green cover with Udawattakele sanctuary. Kandy lake is a striking feature of Kandy and it adds beauty to the city while protecting the city from floodwater. A boat tour at Kandy lake allows you to spot many avian fauna species as well as animals such as monitors and tortoises.
Kandy is included in most Sri Lankan cultural tours as it is an important cultural city. Kandy is one of the most beautiful cities with many important tourist attractions within its borders, apart from cultural heritage.
Important places in Kandy: Kandyan cultural show, Tea museum, Buddhist international museum, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are some of the most prominent tourist places in Kandy.
Important cultural places in Kandy: Natha Devala, Pattini temple, Kandy lake, tooth relic temple museum, Udawattakele sanctuary, Kandyan cultural show and Royal botanical garden are some of the other places to visit in Kandy that speak volumes about the city’s rich culture & heritage. Rankoth Viharaya, Gadaladeniya temple, and Embekke temple are some of the other religious places to visit in Kandy, however, these temples are located a few kilometres away from the city.
How to reach Kandy
- By Air: Kandy can be conveniently reached by domestic plains from Colombo and other major cities. There is a regular seaplane service from Colombo to Kandy with daily planes.
- By Rail: Kandy is also well connected with Kandy by the upcountry railway track. The railway track was laid out by the British east Indian company and it is well-functioning even today. Train believes to be one of the best ways of reaching Kandy from Colombo, it is convenient and it is cheap.
- By Road: Kandy is the hub of the road network of Sri Lanka, due to its location in the middle of the island. Kandy is well connected with all corners of the island with well-maintained modern roads.
The distance to cover on this Sri Lanka cultural tour from the airport is 173 km
The duration of the trip to the cultural city of Nuwara Eliya from the airport is 4 hours
Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by green-capped mountains and tea plantations. Nuwara Eliya is very rich in nature and offers breathtaking scenery across its green-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, rivers, tea gardens, vegetable plots and patches of forests. Therefore, Nuwara Eliya is popular as a place to enjoy nature.
Nuwara Eliya became a prominent holiday spot during British rule, and the British governor developed it as a holiday destination due to its healing climate, which was very appealing to wealthy British planters. Nuwara Eliya records the lowest temperature on the island with the occasional temperature dropping up to -2C degrees after the sunset.
Historical Facts about Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is among the important cultural places in Sri Lanka due to its close connection with Ramayana. The history of Nuwara Eliya goes back to about 7000 years and the city plays a big role in the Ramayana story. Nuwara Eliya is given a prominent place in Hinduism as the place where King Ravana lived. According to Hindu mythology, Kin Ravana abducted Queen Sita (wife of Rama) and was held captive in Nuwara Eliya.
Important cultural sites in Nuwara Eliya: Sita Amman temple, Ashok Vatika, and Hanuman Temple are the most popular tourist places in Nuwara Eliya that are closely connected to Ramayana.
For a walk through the city’s cultural attractions: Nuwara Eliya is most popular for nature holidays than cultural tours. However, Nuwara Eliya attracts many travellers from India, who are arriving in Sri Lanka to witness the places mentioned in Ramayana such as Ashok Vatika and Sita Amman temple.
How to reach Nuwara Eliya
- By Air: The domestic seaplane service is available to Nuwara Eliya from major cities such as Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.
- Train: Train is considered the best way of travelling from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya. The train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya considered being one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.
- By Road: Nuwara Eliya is connected with most major cities of Sri Lanka and it can be easily reached by road.
Tooth relic temple
The tooth relic temple is another major tourist attraction on the island due to its historical and religious importance. The temple of the tooth relic is the most important tourist attraction on the island and is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island. The temple is a major pilgrimage site and attracts thousands of local devotees every day. You will be visiting the temple during the evening ceremony.
Spices are a major export product of the country and it is one of the most important foreign exchange earners for the economy. The spice of Sri Lanka is exported to many countries around the world. At the spice garden, the visitors are able to see a large number of plants and trees that produces spices, At the same time, the visitors are educated about the economic benefits of spices and how they are been used in the preparation of Ayurveda medicine along with other herbs.
What are the two most popular cultural tours in Sri Lanka?
- Grand Sri Lanka cultural tour 3 days
- Mini Sri Lanka cultural tour 3 days
Grand Sri Lanka cultural tour 3 days tour
Sri Lanka grand cultural tour is a 3 days tour starting from Colombo. The tour starts early morning (06.30) from Colombo and therefore we encourage you to arrive one day ahead of the trip, thereby you are able to start the trip early morning as planned. The tour can be started on the same day of your arrival, in case your land early morning at Colombo airport. This 3 days cultural tour includes all major tourist attractions in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka namely Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya and Kandy.
What are the places included in the grand Sri Lanka culture tour?
- Anuradhapura historical site
- Polonnaruwa historical site
- Sigiriya rock fortress
- Dambulla cave temple
- Temple of the tooth relic
- Minneriya national park
- Pinnawala elephant orphanage
What is the duration of the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
The grand cultural tour is also a 3 days tour but it includes all major historical places of the cultural triangle.
What is the cost of a grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
The cost of a Sri Lanka grand-cultural tour is US$ 450 per person on twin sharing double.
What is the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
- Day 1 Colombo-Anuradhapura-Dambulla-Sigiriya
- Day 2 Sigiriya-Polonnaruwa_Minneriya
- Day 3 Kandy-Pinnawala-Colombo
Day 1 of Grand Sri Lanka cultural tour
On the first day of Sri Lanka, on 3 days tour, you will leave for Anuradhapura, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, the distance from Colombo to Anuradhapura is 200 km and the time taken for the journey is roughly 4 hours and half. After the Anuradhapura, the sightseeing tour proceeds to the hotel in Sigiriya, and en route visits Dambulla golden temple. The distance to cover this leg is 70km and the time taken for the journey is 1 hour. overnight stay in Sigiriya.
Day 2 of the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour
On the next day of the tour, you will be visiting the Sigiriya rock fortress in the morning and visit Polonnaruwa ancient city in the afternoon, later in the day optional jeep safari at Minneriya national park, All major attractions that you visit today are located near the hotel and it takes 30 minutes maximum, to reach any of the places (Sigiriya rock, Dambulla golden cave temple, Minneriya national park) from the hotel. Overnight stay in Sigiriya.
Day 3 of the grand Sri Lanka cultural tour
On the last day of the tour proceeds to Kandy after breakfast and en route visits the temple of the tooth relic and Pinnawala elephant orphanage. The distance from Sigiriya to Kandy is 90 km and it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Kandy. Afterwards, the drive to Pinnawala elephant orphanage, which is located on the way to Colombo from Kandy, is short; however, there is a small detour that lasts about 15 minutes as the orphanage is located away from the main road. After visiting the Pinnawala orphanage, leave for Colombo, and you will reach the city in 3 hours’ time.
A mini cultural tour of Sri Lanka
Start and end in Colombo! However, the pick-up location and endpoint can be varied depending on the client’s requirements. Please write to us if you need to change the pick-up and drop-off locations. During these 3 days in the Sri Lanka tour, you can visit 3 major tourist attractions, namely the Kandy tooth relic temple, Dambulla golden cave temple, Sigiriya rock fortress, Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Tea Gardens, and Kandyan cultural show. The package includes accommodation, daily breakfast and dinner, transport, and more.
What are the places included in the Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
- Sigiriya rock fortress
- Dambulla cave temple
- Pinnawala elephant orphanage
- Tooth relic temple
- Pinnawala elephant orphanage
- Spice garden
- Minneriya national park
What is the duration of the Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
Sri Lanka mini cultural tour is a 3 days tour, however, it can be customized to meet the specific requirement of the travellers. This is a private Sri Lanka tour with a dedicated vehicle and driver guide.
What is the itinerary for Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour in a nutshell?
- Day 1 Meet and greet by Serendipity tour representative and drive to hotel in Kandy, en route visit Pinawata elephant orphanage, in the afternoon Kandy sightseeing tour.
- Day 2 Visit Dambulla Golden temple, spice/herbal garden, in the afternoon Mineriya safari
- Day 3 Trek to the Sigiriya rock fortress and return journey to Colombo
Day 1 of 3-day Sri Lanka cultural tour
On the first day of the trip, you will be visiting the Pinnawala elephant orphanage and tea garden as you drive to Kandy. Later in the day, visit the tooth relic temple and Kandyan cultural show, and overnight stay in Kandy. The first day of this Sri Lanka 3-day tour takes place in the direction of the central mountain range and the distance to cover is 115 km. The journey takes around 3 hours, including the visit to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. The Pinnawala elephant orphanage is located about halfway down the journey and is the only major place to stop on the journey. The afternoon sightseeing tour of Kandy includes many interesting places to visit, such as the tooth relic temple, Kandy market, Kandyan cultural show, etc.
Day 2 of the Sri Lanka 3-day tour
The second day of the tour starts after breakfast, and you leave for Sigiriya via Dambulla. En route, you visit the Spice Garden, the Dambulla Golden Cave Temple, an optional safari at Minneriya, and an overnight stay in Sigiriya. Today you drive deep into the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and visit another two major UNESCO world heritage sites on the island, namely Sigiriya Rock and Dambulla Cave Temple. The distance from Kandy to Dambulla and Sigiriya is 90 km, and the journey lasts around 2 hours.
Day 3 of the Sri Lanka cultural tour
The last day of the tour starts after breakfast and visits Sigiriya Rock Fortress, later proceeding to the hotel in Colombo via Kurunegala. The journey lasts around 5 hours.
What is the cost of a Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour?
The cost of a Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour differs based on the type of accomodation. Please get back to us at email@example.com or call us/WhatsApp us on 0094-774440977.
How to book Sri Lanka mini-cultural tour or a grand Sri Lanka cultural tour?
Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and for booking or call us or WhatsApp us at 0094774440977.
All visitors to these sacred places are supposed to dress in a particular manner to uphold their religious values. There is a set of rules that every visitor to religious sites observes while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are, check out this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRES’ CODE“.