Sri Lanka’s Captivating Cultural Heritage

A Legacy of an Ancient Civilization and Cultural Tradition

Sri Lanka is known for its stunning shores, sensational sights and sublime sunsets. Its cultural identity is entwined in heritage; and regales a chronological tale, embracing ancient civilization, tradition and life, unique to itself.

Sri Lanka’s cultural tapestry is woven together with a legacy of ancient civilization, dating back over 2000 years. The island’s rich cultural diversity seals in its very own cultural identity that is both unique and inimitable. These, together with influences of colonisation, art, architecture, food and festivals contribute to securing its place as an exceptional cultural destination.

Ancient Civilizations: 

Several instances of Sri Lanka’s architectural legacy stand the test of time, even today; and is particularly visible in the country’s ‘Cultural Triangle’, in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, which are designated as heritage sites by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


The Sacred City of Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka’s political and religious capital. It flourished for 1,300 years and was established upon the arrival of a Buddhist nun – Sanghamitta to the country, in the 3rd century B.C. Sanghamitta, with a visit to the country carried with her a cutting from the ‘tree of enlightenment’.


The ancient city of Polonnaruwa contains ruins and monuments of a garden city created by King Parakramabahu I from the 12th century. It was the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka, following the fall of Anuradhapura.


A cultural hub of Sri Lanka; and traditionally a significant city, Kandy was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, until the occupation of the British in 1815. It is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic –  the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha –  and remains a popular cultural location.


Sigiriya – or the ‘Lion Rock’ – is known to be the Citadel in the Sky and was built by ancient King Kassapa (477 – 495 CE).  The Sigiriya Rock is surrounded by jungles on all sides and still maintains symmetrical water gardens, from a bygone era. Within it can be found the paintings, maidens, also called, ‘Sigiriya Frescos’.

Rangiri-Dambulla Cave Temple 

This cave temple, is one of the largest and best-preserved cave complex containing Buddhist mural painting covering an expanse of approximately 2,10m2. It houses 157 statues and preserves five sanctuaries, even to this day.


Galle is a fortified city constructed by the Portuguese and the Dutch. It was founded in the 16th century and its reached the pinnacle of its development in the 18th century. The Galle Fort showcases an amalgamation between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.


Sri Lanka is known internationally for its Kandy Esala Perehera (Festival of the Tooth), which is a pageant featuring grandly decorated elephants, lights, traditional dancers, local percussion, jugglers and fire-breathers. The pageant takes place annually and carries the Tooth Relic of the Buddha around the cultural city of Kandy. Typically, this celebration takes place for two weeks, during the months of July and August.

Planning a Cultural Vacation

In planning out a cultural vacation, it is useful to truly understand any destination’s cultural highlights that provide a authentic experience and understanding of local life and custom. As a starting point as to what a typical cultural trip would entail, do get in touch with at and in doing so, experience Sri Lanka’s culture, heritage and life with an experienced team of trained guides, well-oriented with local custom and norms.

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