10 Undiscovered Destinations in Sri Lanka
Feb 2, 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Traveling opens new paths to explore something new about us, while getting to know different cultures. We explore, we gain new knowledge, and at the end of our adventure, we realize that we are not the same person as we were before: traveling allows us to grow and to open our vision to the world.

On your way to Shankra Festival Sri Lanka, or before getting back home, don’t miss the opportunity to visit these inspiring locations!

1. Ritigala Buddhist Monastery

Nature has always been the original drive that pushed humans to develop introspection. Ritigala’s remote forests have appealed to generations of religious ascetics wishing to explore their spirituality. This mysterious Monastery is hidden deep inside the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve and benefits from being one of the quietest historical location of the island.

Buddhist monks established this monastery around 5’000 years ago. Meditation paths run through the trees, between little monastic residences. In this high-altitude forest, it is also possible to observe a diverse range of flora and fauna, some of which is unique to this area.

2. Wilpattu National Park

Willu Pattu means “ Land of the Lakes”: water has always been the origin of life and wildlife in Wilpattu National Park is amazingly crowded. Situated outside of frequent tourist tracks, this natural park conserves a pristine environment where many species of animals and plants can be quietly observed.

Elefants, water buffalos, deers and leopards run freely around Wilpattu’s 60 water basins, home of over 200 species of birds and crocodiles.

3. Buduruvagala

Nestled away in the Monaragala District, Buduruvagala Buddhist temple is one of the symbols of the charming history of the country. The name roughly translates to “the rock of Buddhist sculptures”: several impressive works of ancient art, reaching the height of 16 metres, can be admired in the site. This makes it the site with the largest standing Buddha statue found on the entire island!

The Buduruvagala has been dated back to the 9th or 10th century. It was originally used as a hermitage by Buddhist monks of the area.

4. Nainativu Island

In Nainativu Island, spirituality has ancient roots: the tiny island is in fact home of one of the most ancient places of worship in Sri Lanka, the historical Hindu temple Nagapooshani Amman Kovil. Over the years, Nainativu has become a significant pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. In particular, Nagapooshani Amman Kovil is dedicated to the principal goddess of Tamil Hindus, Amman, mother goddess attributed with powers to protect, heal and to grant fertility.

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5. Kataragama Temple

Spirituality connects people, overcoming differences and uniting cultures. Kataragama is a temple complex dedicated to Buddhist guardian deity “Kataragama deviyo” and Hindu War God Kathirkamam. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Vedda people come together to this sacred site, venerated by all of them: in the complex, an Islamic Mosque can also be found.

The Kataragama festival, happening once a year in the summertime, gathers all types of people from every religion, celebrating in this sacred location with music, light and spectacular dances.

6. Dambulla Cave

Caves have always been chosen by humans as sacred sites, awakening an ancestral sense of intimacy and spirituality. The Royal rock temple complex of Dambulla is home to some of the most impressive historical artwork in Sri Lanka: five majestic caves, containing over 150 Buddhist statues and paintings, dating back over 2000 years.

This UNESCO World Heritage site displays the life of Siddharta Gautama in murals that cover over 2100 m2 of cave walls. After being destroyed, the caves were brought back to their original splendor by the Kingdom of Kandy.

7. Polonnaruwa

Visiting Polonnaruwa is like jumping back in time, discovering the fasts of ancient Kingdoms in Sri Lanka. This fascinating site was the royal capital of both the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms for three centuries: the glories of that age can be imagined through the archaeological treasures that are still in good conditions and give a precise idea of how the city looked like.

Hundreds of ancient structures like tombs, temples and stupas are the remains of the centre of Polonnaruwa when it was a thriving commercial and religious centre.

8. Nilaveli Beach

Nature gives us the most beautiful inspirations, through colorful sunsets immersed in the ocean: Nilaveli is just the perfect place to get inspired. Golden sands and blue waves, located not far from the city of Trincomalee. In Tamil, Nila stands for moon, while veli indicates a location.

One kilometer off the coast of Nilaveli, it’s possible to explore Pigeon Island National Park, one of the two marine national parks of the region. With its many species of vegetation, coral and reef fish, the area around Nilaveli stands our for its rich biodiversity.

9. Trincomalee: Fort Frederick & Lovers Leap

Not far from Trincomalee city, a breathtaking view opens up from the Lovers Leap. Two legends revolve around this scenic spot, one involving the sword of Ravana, who chiseled the rock creating the leap, while the second tells the story of Francisca Van Reed, jumping off this cliff because of the departure of her lover, sailing away from the island. Few meters up the rock, it’s possible to visit the Koneswaram Temple.

Outside of Trincomalee, guarding the neck of a narrow peninsula, Fort Frederick has been the symbol of territorial defense for centuries. Built originally by the Portuguese, then reconstructed by the Dutch and taken over by the British, is now a defensive site for the national army.

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