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Four Historic Sites in Sri Lanka Your Kids Will Love to Visit

It may seem like an impossible feat to entice kids to visit a historical site- just the term fills them with boredom- however, there are four sites in Sri Lanka that stand apart from the rest. With a mixture of history and culture and the best of all, adventure and excitement, visiting these historic attractions will be the highlight of their travel to the island.

1. Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit. Built in the 5th century BC by King Kashyapa, it is a rock fortress in the Matale district surrounded by a luscious green jungle.

The fortress has an interesting history, with the king committing patricide and usurping his brother, the rightful heir. It is also an architectural marvel, fabled for its Lion Paw Steps, and its advanced irrigation system, which is why it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The climb, takes about 45mins – 1 hour, it could be slightly longer if you are with a tour guide, as they will explain the history of Sigiriya. As you ascend it becomes hotter since you leave the cool shade of the trees. Kids above 10 years, in particular, will love the adventure of climbing to the top.

Tip: Visit early morning or later afternoon to avoid large crowds as it will give your kids plenty of time to climb without the rush of other visitors.

2. Dambulla Cave Temple

Only a 25min drive from Sigiriya, so you don’t have to worry about children getting restless, Dambulla is famous for its cave temple. The Dambulla Cave Temple is the largest cave temple complex in the country; it consists of five caves with around 150 statues and numerous paintings of Lord Buddha.

The temple sits atop a rock and it is quite an easy climb for the whole family. Young kids will especially enjoy this local treat known as mango ‘achcharu’ which is a sweet and sour mango pickle that can be found at small stands on the way to the summit. Do watch out for monkeys though! Visitors are requested to ensure their shoulders and knees are covered before entering the premises, and footwear must be left at the entrance too.

Tip: Go in the late afternoon as it will be a little cooler, and take some spare change because you have to leave your shoes at a little kiosk before entering the temple.

3. Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, and it is renowned for its well-preserved ruins of the ancient civilisation that dates back to 10th century BC. It is also where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka here in Anuradhapura, making it an important location for Buddhists all over the world. While you’re there you must visit the Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, one of the oldest temples in the world, built by King Dutugemunu.

Tip: Try and visit Ruwanwelisaya in the evening. Avoid visiting during a poya day or a weekend, as it can get quite crowded. 

4. Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka; established by the Chola dynasty after the invasion of the capital city Anuradhapura in the 10th century. There is an archaeological park with tombs, statues and stupas. It is like walking through a museum, but children will enjoy this even more as it is all outdoors.

Tip: To make this trip even more memorable, you can hire bicycles and opt for a bicycle tour instead which is guaranteed to make the adventure more fun for kids.

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