Discovering Sri Lanka: 5 Off the Beaten Path Cultural Sites

The stunning Pearl of the Orient is a land of diverse beauty, myriad attractions and colourful culture. There is much to see and do – even for vacation makers keen on discovering off-the-beaten-path sights. Delve beyong the island’s well-known travel attractions, and you will uncover an array of hidden gems – captiving places of exploration that will please all culture buffs. 

Trincomalee town

1. Town of Trincomalee

Slip on a pair of trusty shoes, and get ready for a good, long walk, for the compact town of Trincomalee is perfect for exploring on foot. Set in the north eastern region of the island, this quirky town is home to mystical temples, paradisiacal beaches, hot springs and exquisite villas. Most visitors are drawn to the gorgeous shores of Nilaveli and Uppuveli, but Trincomalee offers more than just stretches of scenic coasts. You’ll also chance upon fascinating cultural attractions, such as Koneswaram Temple, Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara and Trincomalee War Cemetery.

2. Medirigiriya Vatadage

Set atop a small rock, visitors will arrive at Medirigiriya Vatadage after a short climb. Tucked away in an isolated location, the attraction draws few visitors. It is highly likely that you may be traversing the vast compounds of the site alone during your visit, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere in the secluded grounds.

Vatadages were constructed for the purpose of enveloping and protecting a dagoba. An intricately-designed stone structure marks the entrance to the site. At every doorway to the vatadage stands four Buddha statues, each facing the four cardinal directions. This is a common element in such types of sturcture. Get your cameras ready when you stand atop the rock to enjoy the view of Medirigiriya Vatadage; it presents a striking and picture-worthy sight.

3. Matale

Set in the heart of Sri Lanka, Matale is an urban town home to a handful of travel attractions and numerous spice plantations. Get a glimpse into the colourful culture and tradition of the area by making a stop by the Matale Heritage Center. This crafts center sits upon a vast compound containing bungalows, workshops and gardens, and used to house renowned batik artist Ena de Silva.

Spice Garden Matale

Euphoria Spice and Herbal

Join in an informative tour of the Euphoria Spice and Herbal spice garden, and browse through the curious collection of potions, lotions and creams in its store – items which are purported to provide aid for innumberable health issues, ranging from insomnia to low sex drive. The friendly staff help to make your visit a highly enjoyable one filled with smiles and nuggets of information. Round out your visit with an engaging cooking demo, where you’ll pick up handy tips on preparing your favourite local dishes.

Aluvihara Rock Temple

Aluvihara Rock Temple

Also known as Matale Alu Viharaya, the Aluvihara Rock Temple is regarded as one of the most important cultural sights in the country. It is said that King Devanampiyatissa founded the temple after he introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka during his reign. The temple is also thought to be the first site where Buddhist doctrines were recorded down on palm leaves in the country. An exploratory walk in the caves will bring to sight a variety of paintings and frescoes. Make your way up the steep slope of the hill, for it is a worthwhile climb to arrive at the top of the hill.

4. Dambana Veddha Village, Maduruoya National park

Make sure you venture to the southern tip of Madurouoya National Park. Here lies Dambana Veddha Village, home to the indigenous people of Sri Lanka. This promises to be an intriguing visit offering glimpses into the Veddha way of life, as the people here continue to cling on to their traditional culture and lifestyles. You’ll meet Uruwarige Wannila, the chief of the village, who may give his blessings and grant visitors the permission to participate in tribal rituals conducted at the village.

Panduwasnuwara Ancient Kingdom

5. Panduwasnuwara Ancient Kingdom

Panduwasnuwara Ancient Kingdom served as King Parakramabahu’s temporary capital during his reign in the twelfth century. Spread over a sprawling land area, the ruins contain a moat, fort wall, palace remains, image houses, dagobas and monastic living quarters. The ruins of Panduwasnuwara may not be as spectacular as the ornate capital cities of Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, but it is well worth a vist and presents a picturesque sight.

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