The cultural triangle – 3 things to visit
The cultural triangle in Sri Lanka
The day after arriving in Sri Lanka we packed out backpacks again and made our way to Colombo Fort, one of the main train stations in Sri Lanka. Eventually we got a train from there to Kandy. Our plans were to catch a glimpse on some temples, rocks and caves. The most important historic sites are all located within the cultural triangle between Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Because our journey only took two weeks, we tried to make the best of the sheer endless possibilities Sri Lanka has to offer. Both of us prefer nature to touristic crowds. As a result we skipped some of the main attractions or swapped them against good alternatives.
In this post, I will outline the three things you shouldn’t miss on your way through the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka:
- Tooth Temple in Kandy
- Golden Temple of Dambulla
- Pidurangala Rock next to Sigiriya’s Lion Rock
It’s actually a short journey to Kandy as it takes approximately 3 hours. While the train is slowly crawling up the hills you can enjoy the beautiful view. I recommend to sit on the right hand side in the train because you will have a better view most of the time. For train schedules I recommend the official page of the Sri Lankan railways. Be assured you will travel cheap at all times! We never paid more than 300lkr in 2nd class – even on our longest ride from Ella to Colombo (which took 10 hours).
Once we arrived in Kandy it was raining cats and dogs. We arrived in Sri Lanka during the days of heavy rainfall in May 2016 with floods and landslides. Thankfully the situation in Kandy itself was still ok and we made a short trip to the most important temple in Sri Lanka.
The temple of the tooth
Sri Dalada Maligawa is the most holy temple in Sri Lanka as it holds a tooth of Buddha. This tooth is the reason that Kandy was the last capital city of the Sri Lankan kings. The temple itself is placed near the beautiful lake in the city centre. It is just a 20 minute walk from Kandy station. I would recommend to walk there because you will see parts of the city and can experience the markets and shops on your way.
The opening hours of the temple are from 5.30am-8pm and it will cost you 1000 lkr (±6US$) per person. You can get a guide at the entrance of the temple. A lot of the guides have lived abroad in Europe and many of them speak really good English, French or German. We didn’t feel the need for a lengthy tour so we just went in and explored the temple on our own. It is pretty amazing inside with all the beautiful paintings and shrines. To give you an impression of the temple, you will find a few pictures when you scroll down.
Golden Temple of Dambulla
The Golden Temple of Dambulla is one of the biggest cave temples in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the cultural triangle, located on top of a small hill. Therefore you will also have a nice view. The entrance is easy to find: At the huge golden Buddha statue at the foot of the hill. In fact, it is the biggest Buddha statue in the world. Hop of your bus or Tuktuk and enjoy the free entrance. Well, to be honest it is not exactly free as you have to pay a small donation at the peak, it seems like 100 lkr are enough.
With just a few steps upwards, the hike is pretty easy. You will need 15-20 minutes. Enjoy and explore the 5 caves with hundreds of statues and wall paintings. If you’re a keen photographer you should bring a tripod as the light is really dim.
Wait – you promised 3 things, what’s next?
Sigiriya Rock was next on our list as it is part of the cultural triangle. I will cover it in a separate post as there are a few things to consider. Please refer to my post on Sigiriya as well as on Pidurangala Rock.