Romantic Things To Do In The Cultural Triangle
Sri Lanka is definitely one of the most romantic destinations to visit, it has golden beaches, turquoise waters and rolling green hills, however, most people tend to flock to the beach without knowing how wonderful the heart of the country is. The cultural triangle is made up of the main cultural and historical sites; Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Kandy. Here are a few activities you and your partner can enjoy in the cultural triangle.
Anuradhapura is one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its well-preserved ruins, and it is where Buddhism was first introduced in the country. There are a variety of ruins in the complex, palatial pools, stupas, and temples– some of which are still functional today. When you’re there you must visit Ruwanwelisaya, a temple built by King Dutugemunu c. 140 BC, which is one of the country’s most revered and largest temples and Buddhists from all over the world visit. Try and go there in the evening on a Poya (full moon) day– it’s magical. Another site to visit is Sri Maha Bodhi, a shrine dedicated to the Jaya Sri Bodhi tree- one of the oldest trees in the world- which is believed to have come from the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment.
Polonnaruwa is the second ancient capital, and what once was the centre of all political and economic matters, has now become the centre of Sri Lanka’s best-preserved ruins. In some ways, Polonnaruwa was more regal than Anuradhapura, and you will still find ruins of the palace’s structure, while Anuradhapura is more associated with religion and culture. The ancient ruins are spread out and a good idea would be for you and your partner to rent two bicycles and cycle from site to site. One main attraction is the Sacred Quadrangle, where you can find the Vatadage at the centre of it. The Vatadage is a circular relic house which is 18m in diameter, and there are four entrances which all lead to the central dagaba which houses four Buddha statues.
The Gal Vihara is another site which is unique to Polonnaruwa. It is a collection of four Buddha statues carved on a single rock face rather than a traditional temple. The four statues each depict a different stage in the Buddha’s path to nirvana, and the statues range from 4.5 feet to a whopping 46 feet. Polonnaruwa was also famous for its reservoirs and one of the largest reservoirs is within the city: Parakrama Samudra (The Sea of Parakrama), a tank that was constructed around 386 BC by King Parakramabhau, which is a great place to watch the sunset with your partner.
Dambulla is best known for being home to Sri Lanka’s largest cave temple complex. The Dambulla Cave Temples dates back to the 1st century BC, and it is made up of 5 caves which are full of rock paintings and nearly 150 ancient Buddha statues. The temple is not only architecturally beautiful as it is embedded into the rock, but also because the view from atop the rock is magnificent.
Another activity you and your partner can do is climb Sigiriya, which is a rock fortress half an hour away from Dambulla. The history of the fortress is as interesting as its architecture; it was built in the 5th century BC by King Kashyapa who assumed the throne by killing his father and usurping his brother. Architecturally, Sigiriya is famed for its Lion Paw Steps as well as its advanced irrigation system. The whole fortress is truly a world wonder which is why a trip to Sri Lanka would be incomplete without a visit here. For a more romantic option, you can take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise that will take you over Sigiriya and Dambulla– definitely one of the most beautiful sights you will see.
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, but it is best-known for Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. The relic makes it one of the holiest locations in the country, and many newlyweds go there to bless their union. The temple is located within the old palace complex, giving it a very regal feeling with its tall pillars and gold ceiling, and it is the only palatial structure of the Sri Lankan kings that exist.
Another romantic activity in Kandy is to visit the famed Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya. The garden is adjacent to the country’s longest river- the Mahaweli River-and it is one of the most beautiful locations in Sri Lanka. Within the 147 acres, there are over 4000 species of plants, including the largest collection of orchids in the country! This is definitely a must for any nature lover.