Ancient Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the country with a great ancient value. Unblivable ancient ruins still prove the ancient value of Sri Lanka. Glorious Reminders of a Resplendent Past The remains of Sri Lanka’s ancient and medievalcivilisations palaces, monasteries, shrines, water gardensand temples bear witness to thriving kingdoms and tothe influence of Buddhism.These reminders of the past are so outstanding that fiveareas have the distinction of being designated WorldHeritage Sites by UNESCO.

Anuradapura

Founded by King Pandukhabaya in 437BC, by the mid-3rd century BC Anuradhapura’s fame had spread as far as the Roman-Hellenistic world of the Mediterranean and by the 1st century AD it had established trade and diplomatic links with China. The Jetavana treasures, unearthed over the past 20 years (some are now displayed in the partially completed Jetavanarama Museum, on site) show evidence of these links to east and west. Anuradhapura was the royal seat of more than 250 Buddhist and Hindu kings recorded in the royal genealogies, and the preeminent city on the island for some 1400 years.

According to the Mahavamsa, the epic of Sinhala History, King Pandukabhaya’s city was a model of planning. Precints were set aside for huntsmen, for scavengers and for heretics as well as for foreigners. There were hostels and hospitals, at least one Jain chapel, and cemeteries for high and low castes. Water supply was assured by the construction of ‘tanks’, artificial reservoirs, of which the one called after himself, exists to this day under the altered name of Baswak Kulam.

In 993 when Raja Raja Chola sent a large Chola army which conquered the Anuradhapura Kingdom, in the north, and added it to the sovereignty of the Chola Empire. The whole or most of the island was subsequently conquered and incorporated as a province of the vast Chola empire during the reign of his son Rajendra Chola.

 

Polonnaruwa

The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was the second major Sinhalese kingdom of Sri Lanka. It lasted from 1055 under Vijayabahu I to 1212 under the rule of Lilavati. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa came into being after the Anuradhapura Kingdom was invaded by Chola forces under Rajaraja I and led to formation of the Kingdom of Ruhuna, where the Sinhalese Kings ruled during Chola occupation. The greatest of these systems, of course is the Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that that it is often mistaken for the ocean. It is of such a width that it is impossible to stand upon one shore and view the other side, and it encircles the main city like a ribbon, being both a defensive border against intruders and the lifeline of the people in times of peace. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu’s reign.

Some of the rulers of Polonnaruwa include Vijayabahu I and Parakramabahu I (Parakramabahu the Great). Most of Polonnaruwa that remains today dates from after the 1150s, as the extensive civil wars that preceded Parakramabahu's accession to the throne devastated the city. Parakrama Pandyan II from Pandyan Kingdom invaded the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa in the thirteenth century and ruled from 1212 to 1215 CE. He was succeeded by Kalinga Magha the founder of the Jaffna kingdom. Kalinga Magha ruled 21 years until he was expelled from Polonnaruwa in 1236.

Intereting Locations on Polonnaruwa : Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Hatadage, Rankoth Vehera, Statue of King Parakramabahu, Thuparamaya, Shiva Dewalaya, Lankathilaka Temple, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya ect....

 

"Monkey Kingdom"

Polonnaruwa has been in the limelight recently with the release of the Disney documentary movie “Monkey Kingdom” in over 12,000 US Cinemas in April 2015. The film documents the life of a troop of wild toque-macaque monkeys locally known as “Rilaw” while the entire set was based around the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa. According to our current minister of Tourism, the documentary movie portrays the island as an exotic destination that is filled with natural beauty and highlighted by heritage sites such as Polonnaruwa. The film also gives proper attention to these types of monkeys and it shows their association with Polonnaruwa and their behavioural patterns which is a perfect way to educate locals and tourists alike about conserving these animals.

Filmed around Polonnaruwa the movie “Monkey Kingdom” was directed by Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill who were also well known for their blockbusters such as “Earth” which grossed more than 100 million dollars at the box office and their wildlife documentary “Chimpanzee” which grossed almost 35 million. The documentary portrays these monkeys as a fascinating species that also requires conservation. Most locals however, don’t pay much attention since they are seen quite commonly roaming around. The main aim of the film is to create awareness among locals and promote these monkeys as animals that we should safeguard.

 
Sigiriya

Environment around the Sigiriya may have been inhabited since prehistoric times. There is clear evidence that the many rock shelters and caves in the vicinity were occupied by Buddhist monks and ascetics from as early as the 3rd century BCE. In 477 CE, kasyapa, the king’s son by a non-royal consort, seized the throne from King Dathusena, following a coup assisted by Migara, the king’s nephew and army commander. The rightful heir, Mugalan, fearing for his life fled to South India. Fearing an attack from Mugalan, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya. During King Kashyapa’s reign (477 to 495 CE), Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress. Most of the elaborate constructions on the rock summit and around it, including defensive structures, palaces, and gardens, date from this period.

Frescoes: John Still in 1907 suggested, "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery... the largest picture in the world perhaps". The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost forever. More frescoes, different from those on the rock face, can be seen elsewhere, for example on the ceiling of the location called the "Cobra Hood Cave".

The Mirror Wall: Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of brick masonry wall and covered in highly polished white plaster, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. The mirror wall has verses dating from as early as the 8th century. People of all types wrote on the wall, on varying subjects such as love, irony, and experiences of all sorts. Further writing on the mirror wall now has been banned for the protection of old writings of the wall.

The water gardens can be seen in the central section of the western precinct. Three principal gardens are found here. The first garden consists of a plot surrounded by water. It is connected to the main precinct using four causeways, with gateways placed at the head of each causeway. This garden is built according to an ancient garden form known as char bagh, and is one of the oldest surviving models of this form.

 

Dambulla

Dambulla is a large town, situated in the Matale District, Central Province of Sri Lanka, situated 148 km (92 mi) north-east of Colombo and 72 km (45 mi) north of Kandy. Due to its location at a major junction, it's the centre of vegetable distribution in the country. Major attractions of the area include the largest and best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The area also boasts the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Na Uyana Aranya. Considering Dambulla history, The area is thought to be inhabited from as early as the 7th to 3rd century BC. Statues and paintings in these caves date back to the 1st century BC. But the paintings and statues were repaired and repainted in the 11th, 12th, and 18th century AD. The caves in the city provided refuge to King Valagamba (also called Vattagamini Abhaya) in his 14-year-long exile from the Anuradapura kingdom. Buddhist monks meditating in the caves of Dambulla at that time provided the exiled king protection from his enemies. When King Valagamba returned to the throne at Anuradapura kingdom in the 1st century BC, he had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla in gratitude to the monks in Dambulla.

 

Kandy

Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka, located in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. It is the second largest city in the country after Colombo. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.

Historical records suggest that Kandy was first established by the Vikramabahu III (1357–1374 CE), who was the monarch of the Kingdom of Gampola, near the Watapuluwa area, north of the present city, and named Senkadagalapura at the time.

Thus Kandyan culture was abler to foster and maintain its own social structure, mode of living, Art & Architecture. The kings of Kandy ensured the safety and sovereignty of the hill capitol and it’s great culture until the British finally captured the city in 1815.

 

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