Asia’s evergreen Eden has a boisterous and intriguing history. Although for argument’s sake, this island is indeed a relatively young country, however, Sri Lanka’s history ages well past some of the oldest and most celebrated historical places in Asia. While the world may be oblivious to the importance of Sri Lanka’s history, it can be argued that Sri Lanka’s history has its roots deeply etched into the significance of South Asia’s history. Naturally, much of the Lankan land plays a pivotal part in establishing the currents of history when it comes to neighboring countries, so here’s an attempt at understanding the important historical landmarks of Sri Lanka. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, this one is going to be quite a ride!
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
A quick forty minutes ride from Habarana should take you to the Sigiriya valley where a towering landmark overlooks the land in quite a regal fashion. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is one of the oldest historical landmarks in Sri Lanka, and caters to thousands of tourists every year. It can be argued that the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress is one of the most popular landmarks in the country.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress overlooks one of the most well-maintained gardens in the country. As for the fortress, it dates back to the 5th AD and is rumored to be built by the famous king Kashayapa. The walk from the foot of the fortress, or the paw of the lion as seen from the image, is exhausting. However, the view from the top makes up for the gritted teeth and sweaty brows. Atop the rock is a palace, which housed the king who built it. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress was infamously impenetrable, a fact made popular by the several failed invasions throughout history.
Seetha Amman Temple
As the name suggests, the temple houses Goddess Seeta, Lord Sri Ram’s bride and his dutiful partner in Ramayana. The specialty of this temple, well, apart from its gorgeous appearance, is that the Seetha Temple is the only historical place of worship in the entire country dedicated to the Hindus. Such was her significance in the history of the land, that Sri Lanka’s testimony to our goddess is a beautiful contemporary to most of the Buddhist religious places in the country. Every year, this temple receives almost a million visitors.
The temple’s current place marks the spot where Ravana held Seeta hostage after her abduction. Along with Seeta, a few other Indian deities are also worshipped in this temple. The Seeta temple is an integral part of India’s influence on Sri Lankan history, thus making it an essential landmark worth experiencing when in Sri Lanka.
Dambulla Golden Cave Temple (Buddhist Temple)
Located in Dambulla, a metropolitan city in Sri Lanka, is the Golden Cave Temple – one of the oldest and most popular historical landmarks in the country. This Buddhist temple is considered to be one of the most important Buddhist landmarks in the entire continent. The shrine which is located inside a temple is picturesque, serene, and naturally holds an extremely positive and peaceful aura.
Apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple’s history is what sets it apart. King Nissanka Malla added several Buddha statues to this temple, and the statues were plated with gold. The temple was also rumoured to provide shelter to a Buddhist king under siege, till his army arrived for backup and he went on to overthrow the siege. Apart from countless paintings, statues, and wall carvings, the temple houses almost 200 gold statues of Lord Buddha.
One of the most historically rich cities of Sri Lanka, and the entire continent, Anuradhapura houses several wonders. Most of the sites within the city are declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city used to be the capital of ancient Sri Lanka, and naturally, holds a significant place in the hearts and minds of the Lankan denizens.
Of all the historically significant sites in the city, three are perhaps of the greatest importance. Sri Maha Bodhi is the oldest documented tree in the world and naturally holds unparalleled importance for the Buddhist devotees. Ruwanweli Stupa, built in the 2nd century BC, holds a significant place in the history and politics of ancient Sri Lanka, also making it an important landmark for Buddhism. The Thuparama Dagoba is the oldest Stupa in the world, attracting thousands of historians every year.
The beauty of this temple is that it houses multiple deities from different religions. Kataragama temple experiences deities from various ethnic groups that come to worship in the temple regardless of their religion, caste, color, or creed. A majority of the worshippers are Hindu and Buddhist. The temple is Sri Lanka’s greatest testimony to the true harmony amongst different religions.
The temple houses Lord Kataragama/Lord Skanda and the Hindu god of war Murugan. Lord Teyvanai, Shiva, and other Gods can also be found in the temple. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and worshippers from other religions regularly visit this temple to pay their respect and offer their gratitude for protecting them and their land.
Curated by Yashodhaan Burange
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