The Cultural Triangle can be accessed via road network from the Bandaranaike International Airport. It takes approximately 4 hours to Anuradhapura, 5 hours to Polonnaruwa and 4 hours to reach Kandy from the airport.
The Cultural Triangle is the hub of history and heritage in Sri Lanka. It is the start of civilization, marked by Buddhism and agriculture. This is where the ancient practises of Ayurvedic healing stemmed from, where great structures and engineering marvels were built, where kingdoms rose and fell. Anuradhapura was the island’s first capital and was ruled by over 100 Sri Lankan monarchs from 4th century BC to 11th century AD. Anuradhapura eventually became one of the greatest cities in Asia in terms of grand complexes, temples and irrigation system that was well beyond it’s time. The medieval city of Polonnaruwa became the capital in 1073 during the reign of King Vijayabahu I and Parakramabahu I ruled. Polonnaruwa remained as the country’s capital city until the 13th century. In 1592, Kandy became the last royal capital city of Sri Lanka, before the island fell to the hands of its invaders. Other important sites within the triangle are Sigiriya, Dambulla and Mihintale.
Shopping is not common at the Cultural Triangle, however, one is sure to find small stores and street stalls selling local items from groceries to food.
Things to do in the Cultural Triangle
Discover the treasures of the Cultural Triangle. Visit the 3 ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and everything in between.
- Polonnaruwa – Walk through and discover the various remnants of this ancient city, from building structures to ruins of sculptures and shrines.
- Anuradhapura – Discover the temples, monasteries, bathing pools, buildings and other structures connected by a complex, sophisticated irrigation system. The city is also home to the sacred Bo tree; which originally was a branch from the Bodh Gaya in India.
- Aukana – A 12m, free standing statue of Lord Buddha built during the 5th century, the Aukana Buddha statue was carved from a single rock.
- Dambulla Cave Temples – Over 2000 years old, the Dambulla Cave Temples are a collection of image houses with painted frescoes that depict the early life of the Buddha. The 14m long statue of the Buddha should not be missed.
- Mihintale – Mihintale is known to be the birthplace of Buddhism in 3rd century BC; this historic site is home to a 40ft dagoba.
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress – An ancient fortress in the sky built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century AD, who built his kingdom around the rock.
- Minneriya National Park – Famed around the world for the largest gathering of wild Asian elephants, Minneriya National Park is also home to leopards, sloth bears, wild boars and many more.
Best time to visit the Cultural Triangle
The main locales within the Cultural Triangle are situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, where rainfall occurs only in November and December. Apart from the months of June and July which brings about hot winds, the rest of the year is quite pleasant to visit the Cultural Triangle.
Popular events in the Cultural Triangle
- Vesak in Mihintale: Occurs on the full moon of May and June. The full moon in May marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Lord Buddha, while the full moon in June signifies the introduction of Buddhism to the country.
- Elephant Gathering in Minneriya – The Minneriya National Park lies within the protected area of the Cultural Triangle. It is famed for the largest gathering of wild Asian elephants during the months of August and September.