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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sri Lanka's Architectural Treasures

Sri Lanka, a bustling city whose history is well-preserved in its ancient buildings is a treasure trove for archaeological sites both of colonial and Buddhist importance. Arriving in the country's capital city of Colombo you get a taste of things to come with a 17th century walled port that you can enjoy with the conveniences of city living; 

with the beach a few steps away and a sumptuous meal served at your hotel. Outside the city however, is a treasure hunt of sorts as you explore ancient monuments and kingdoms. 
Galle in Colombo 

Galle Face Green is a walled fort that sits on 13 acres of land facing the Indian Ocean. The fort was first used as a fortification against the Portuguese when the country was under the rule of the Dutch. In 1856, a promenade was added to the fort and now serves as a weekend destination for both tourists and locals who want to enjoy the sunset.

Sigiriya in Dam bulla

A whole city in itself, Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best architectural treasures of Sri Lanka. The city was built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century on top of an unassuming massive granite rock. Your journey starts as you enter the gates guarded by the ruins of the 'Lion Rock', from which the name Sigiriya is derived from. On the way up is a mirror wall which was said to be well polished it served as the king's mirror and further are frescoes which were commissioned to adorn the sides of the rock. From the ruins on top, is a view of the well-preserved gardens and a landscape that no other than the king himself once enjoyed. 

North of Colombo is the ancient city of Anuradhapura, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the seat of a great religious empire and is today considered a sacred city by Buddhists. Three types of architecture are noticeable in its ruins: bell-shaped dwellings called dagobas, Pokuna and monastic ruins. The largest of dagobas reach up to more than a thousand feet in circumference. Meanwhile, Pokuna were used as water reservoirs supplying the city's drinking and bathing water. And monastic ruins, feature pillars, platforms and sacred sculptures visible on walls and floors.

This ancient city began to rise after the destruction of Anuradhapura in the late 900s. It saw the rise and fall of numerous civilizations starting from the 12th century reign of Parakramabahu I. The most noticeable architectural design of the city lies in the unusual dimensions of the ruins-temples, tombs and statues, and the elaborate stretch of its gardens which vividly portrays the city's religious and commercial role. 

From the historical city of Colombo to relieving the civilizations-past of 12th century ruins, Sri Lanka is clearly a top destination for those on the hunt for archaeological treasures. But aside from ruins, there are many more ways you can enjoy your Sri Lankan visa. In between tours, you can opt to enjoy the lively beach or escape to the calmness of your own stretch of beach.

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