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Heritage & Culture

Discover the history of Sri Lanka

Sithulpawwa Rock Temple 

Tucked away inside Yala National Park is Sithulpawwa Rock Temple, one of the most significant Buddhist monasteries dating back over 2,200 years.  

The site contains a large number of stupas, cave temples that carry inscriptions in early Brahmi script, Buddha statues, a stupa house and image houses that still contain fragments of paintings. 

Pilgrims continue to flock here on the full moon of each month, clad in white, to practice the Buddha’s teachings and meditate.    

Tissamaharama 

The ancient Tissamaharama stupa stands amid the paddy fields that surround the modern town of Tissa. 

For Buddhist pilgrims, it is one of the sixteen most sacred sites (known as Solosmasthana) in the country. The dagoba is believed to enshrine Buddha's sacred tooth and forehead bone.  

Kataragama 

Kataragama is a holy city for Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus alike. In July and August, the predominantly Hindu Kataragama festival draws thousands of devotees who make the pilgrimage over a two-week period. 

The Manik Ganga, or Manika Gangai (River of Gems), serves as a place of ablution and is believed to have miraculous healing powers, thanks to its high gem content and the medicinal properties of trees lining the water. 

Mulkirigala Rock Monastery 

Located 205m above sea level is Mulkirigala, the most significant rock temple in southern Sri Lanka.  

As visitors climb the 533 steps to the summit, they will encounter a series of seven cleft-like caves on five different terraced levels along with a number of large reclining Buddha statues, pools of water and sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. 

It was here where a British archaeologist discovered the ancient manuscripts of the Mahawamsa: the great chronicle of Sri Lanka’s early history. 

Kirivehera 

Another of the sixteen most sacred Buddhist sites is the Kirivehera dagoba, commonly known as “the milk stupa”. 

The Bo tree situated behind the Katharagama temple is one of the eight saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi, which is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world. The Buddha is believed to have paid a visit here during His third trip to Sri Lanka.  

Kirinda 

Relatively unknown to tourists, the small fishing village of Kirinda centres on a Buddhist shrine perched atop huge rocks, right at the shore.  

On a clear day the lonely lighthouse on the Great Basses Reef appears like a needle in the distance, and visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Tissamaharama. 

Bandagiriya Temple 

Bandagiriya is considered the highest peak in the Hambantota District and provides visitors with a beautiful panoramic view. Here, two stupas and a statue of the seated Buddha in meditation stand amidst scattered ruins dating back to the 2nd century BC.  

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Nov 32.4°C 29.9°C
Dec 32.7°C 29.6°C