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cultural triangle

cultural triangle sri lanka

Sri Lanka's cultural triangle stretches from Dambulla in the south, to Polonnaruwa in the east and Anuradhapura in the north.  Sigiriya is in the centre of the triangle.

North of Kandy, the green hills of the central highlands roll down into the plains of the dry zone that's occasionally dotted with isolated mountainous outcrops that tower dramatically over the surrounding flatlands.  These northern plains – traditionally referred to as Rajarata, or “The King’s Land”, although now popularly known as the Cultural Triangle – were the heart of early Sinhalese civilization, centred on the great cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, whose grandiose monuments still serve as potent reminders of the golden age of Sinhalese civilization.

We recommend several great options when staying in the Cultural Triangle, and our travel specialists can advise on which would be perfect for you:

The ruined city of Anuradhapura, capital of the island from the third century BC to 993 AD and one of medieval Asia’s great metropolises, dotted with vast monasteries, elaborate palaces, enormous tanks and a trio of monumental dagobas, only exceeded in scale in the ancient world by the Egyptian pyramids.

The remains of Polonnaruwa, the island’s second capital, are more compact but equally absorbing, while few visitors miss the chance to climb the spectacular rock citadel of Sigiriya, perhaps Sri Lanka’s single most extraordinary sight.

Jungle Beach, our featured hideaway on the east coast, is about a 2 hour drive from both Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.

Other leading attractions in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle include the marvellous cave temples of Dambulla, a magical treasure trove of Buddhist sculpture and painting, and the religious centre of Mihintale, scene of the introduction of Buddhism to the island.

Dambulla, at the southern end of the Cultural Triangle, is 90km north of Kandy - about a 2 hour drive.  Kandy is a 2 to 3 hour drive to the capital, Colombo.

Major attractions aside, the Cultural Triangle is peppered with other intriguing but relatively little-visited ancient monuments, including the abandoned cities of Yapahuwa and Panduwas Nuwara; the great Buddha statues of Aukana and Sasseruwa; the absorbing temples of Aluvihara and Ridi Vihara; and the haunting forest monasteries of Arankele and Ritigala. And there is no shortage of natural attractions, either, at the national parks of Minneriya, Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa.

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Beach and Cultural Triangle

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Weather & Seasons

The Maha monsoon blows from October to January, bringing rain to the North and East, while the dry season is from May to September. The North and East (i.e. the Cultural Triangle) are comparatively dry, with around 1000mm of rain annually. There is also an inter-monsoonal period in October and November when rain can occur in many parts of the island. Out-of-season travel has its advantages – not only do the crowds go away but many airfares and accommodation prices drop right down. Nor does it rain all the time during the low season.

Everything else

  • Flying time from London:  Just under 11 hours direct flight to Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo
  • Currency:  Sri Lanka Rupees
  • Language:  Sinhalese, Tamil and English
  • Visa requirements:  Required, see below
  • Time difference:  GMT +5.5 hours


All visitors to Sri Lanka require a visa. You can obtain a short stay visa (up to 30 days) via an online visa process


Please consult your doctor for advice on all medical matters relating to travelling in Sri Lanka.


Flights to Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, are available from a choice of airports including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

chaaya village habarana

chaaya village habarana

cultural triangle, sri lanka    room per night from £60

Sited in the heart of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, Chaaya Village Habarana is ideal for visiting the rich historical and cultural sites such as Anuradhapura, Sigirya and Dambulla. Also nearby is Minneriya National Park for wildlife safaris.

aliya resort and spa

aliya resort and spa

cultural triangle, sri lanka    room per night from £105

With spectacular views of Sigiriya, this charming little resort is a great value choice for visitors to the area.

cinnamon lodge

cinnamon lodge

cultural triangle, sri lanka    room per night from £106

Set in 12 acres of landscaped gardents and just 30 minutes from the main sites in the Cultural Triangle, Cinnamon Lodge has recently been refurbished and makes an excellent base for exploring the area.

kalundewa retreat

kalundewa retreat

cultural triangle, sri lanka    room per night from £170

Kalundewa Retreat is an idyllic hide-away nestled in 100 acres of land near Dambulla, in Sri Lanka's famous Cultural Triangle.

vil uyana

vil uyana

cultural triangle, sri lanka    room per night from £280

Vil Uyana is a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World and offers spacious luxury dwellings, built over a wetlands area just a few kilometres from Sigiriya.


experiences, cultural triangle