The so-called Culture Triangle in Sri-Lanka consists of the beautiful ancient remains of the rich history of Sri Lanka. Whether you are a history fanatic or not, you will have a great time visiting all the ruins and beautiful temples. We visited Sigiriya and the ruins of Anuradhapura. You can also decide to go to Polonnaruwa for ruins but since we wanted to visit Jaffna as well, Anuradhapura was the best option travelwise since the two towns are connected by train.
This big rock with a monestary on top is not something you can miss easily when you are in the neighborhood of Dambulla or Sigiriya. We stayed at Sigiriya for the sole purpose of visiting the Lion rock but our guesthouse was so nice we wished we could have stayed there longer. Saman Guesthouse really understands what travellers need, just kind gestures and a clean room. The fact that they cook the most amazing dinner for you at your request, is a great extra. Sigiriya itself is very small and there’s not much to do besides climbing the rock so when we arrived we were happy to see there was a small restaurant with beds near a small creek where we played cards and had cold beers. The place is called Rasta Rant and we actually saw that they organized a festival that month which would have been really nice to go to!
When going here we made the decision to not climb the Lion rock itself, but instead the Pidurangala rock which is situated next to the Lion rock. By climbing the rock before sunrise (wake up at 5am and get your guesthouse to arrange a tuktuk for you!) you’ll be able to see the Lion rock in the most beautiful light and to see the sunrise at such a special spot is magical. Unfortunately we were not the only ones, it was actually quite ‘crowded’ for such an early time but it was nevertheless a great experience. Besides the advantage of skippig the even more crowded Lion rock, this also saves you a lot of money since you pay a small fee compared to the tourist entrance fee at Sigiriya Rock!
The town of Anuradhapura is a town that we didn’t really get to figure out. We stayed at Senowin Holiday Resort (more of a guesthouse) with the kindest hostess ever, but other than that there is much to mention except for the ancient city of Anuradhapura. We doubted for a long time whether we should explore the ruins by tuktuk or by bike. We really wanted to go by bike (we’re Dutch ;-)) but the weather was horrible the evening before and we read a lot about skipping the (very high) entrance fee if you go by tuktuk. In the end we decided to go by bike anyways and would try to get as far as we could without paying. We ended up getting stopped at the first intersection having to pay (in cash! Be aware of this, we had to go back to find an ATM) and later on along the way we saw everybody getting stopped so we guess they figured it out and are a lot stricter now. But we really didn’t mind paying though as they need the money to preserve the ruins and the fact that we have to pay a lot more than the locals only seems fair since we earn a lot more back home as well. The entrance fee is 3500 rupees per person and the bikes were 500 rupees per person per day. We were actually planning to spend two full days at the ancient site, but after a day of biking we felt like we saw enough. If you’re really into history and archeology you can easily spend two full days here but we’d had enough of the blazing sun. Tip: bring socks so you don’t burn your feet when you have to take of your shoes at the temples!
What do you guys think of this other side of Sri Lanka? Do you prefer it over the lush Hill Country or the beaches in the South and East? Let us know in the comments below!