This approximately 23 centuries old Perahara (Pageant) was originally a celebration beseeching the gods to bless the people and their crops. Since then it has encompassed Buddhist traditions & icons as well. Nearly one hundred caparisoned elephants, acrobats, fire ring twirlers, whip crackers, drummers, slit walkers, fire eaters, musicians & dancers along with Sri Lankans from all regions of the country, join in the celebration. The Kandy Perahara (held in August) is one of the most spectacular celebrations in the world.
Sigiriya (Lion Rock): the ancient rock fortress of King Kashyapa (one of the most notorious villains in Sri Lankan history) was built in 5th century AD. The fortress was built on top of the Sigiri rock which is 300m in height. The rock was carved to resemble a crouching lion and the ascent to the fortress on top was built through the lion's mouth. The famous frescos of Sigiriya (found inside a sheltered lech) are said to be unique in style & colour. These beautiful paintings are considered as part of world's art treasures. Sigiriya is one of the most fascinating historic sites in Asia.
Shripadaya, a mountain (2238m high) that is holy for Buddhists, Hindus, Muhammadans and eastern Christians. Over 2000 years of literature, in several languages, have made references to this holy mountain. Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha left his foot print on the pinnacle to denote that Sri Lanka is the most sacred land where his teachings will flourish for the next five thousand years. Hindus believe the foot print on the summit to be that of their god Shiva. Muhammadans & eastern Christians believe the mountain peak to be where Adam first set foot, on his way to earth from paradise.
Nallur Kandaswamy Hindu kovil (temple) in Jaffna was originally built in 15th century AD. The Nallur kovil became the chief shrine of Hindu worship in the town. Since ancient times, Jaffna (Sri Lanka's northern peninsula), had a settlement of Tamil people who observed the Hindu faith. The Jaffna peninsula is the region of Sri Lanka that is nearest to India.
Kechimalai Mosque is located at the end of the port of Beruwala, on the southwest coast. The mosque is built at the spot where the ancestors of Sri Lanka's Muslim community, landed in 1024 AD, and made it their most important & historic settlement in the island.
Sri Lanka is said to have the greatest number of water falls within the smallest area. Each Water Fall is unique & have some scintillating legend or folklore attached to it.
Theravadha Buddhism (an orthodox form of Buddhism that directly follows scriptures) has deep roots in Sri Lanka's history. It has nurtured & steered the Sinhalese culture. Ancient architectural monuments accurately depicts the long embedded devotion to Theravadha Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Over 2000 years ago, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka from India, by the venerable priest Mahinda (son of king Asoka). His sister, the therani (nun) Sangamitha, brought to Sri Lanka a sapling from the sacred Bo tree which sheltered Lord Buddha during his enlightment. Today, long after the original tree in India has ceased to exist, the sapling remains with its roots now deeply embedded into Sri Lankan soil. Shri Maha Bodhi, the sacred Bo tree in Sri Lanka is historically documented as being world's oldest tree.
The Ruvanwali Saaya (Golden Sand stupa) built by king Dutugamunu in 132 BC, is the most popular stupa in Sri Lanka. The stupa is 270 feet in height with an equal diameter. The magnificent scale and craftsmanship of the stupa is bewildering. Ruwanwali stupa is the largest of its kind in the world.
Shri Dhaladha Maaligaawa in Kandy is the temple from where the Kandy perahara (pageant) commences. It is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Shri Dhaladha Maaligaawa temple was built by the virtuous king Narendrasinha (1707-1739 AD).
Isurumuniya, the beautiful temple next to water, especially famous for its rock sculptures. Isurumuniya temple in the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura, was originally built by king Thissa (307-267 BC).
Dambulla, the ancient cave temple near Sigiriya. A series of important & well known paintings decorate the roof inside the Dambulla temple. These paintings were directly painted on the rock without any smoothing on the surface. In the largest of the temple's five grottos, over fifty statues can be found.
King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 AD) is the most respected king in Sri Lanka's history. A statue of him was carved on a cliff near the Parakrama Samudraya (reservoir) which he constructed. During his regime, the ancient capital city of Pollonnaruwa was adorned with many marvels. The Gal Viharaya (Rock Temple), with its life-like Buddha statues carved out of the living rock, was one such marvel.
Avukana Buddha statue (rock) carved during 7-9th century AD. This statue is 39 feet high, without the pedestal. The word Avukana means sun debarring.
Modern monument : Statue of Lord Buddha, on Bahirava mountain in Kandy.