Polonnaruwa, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, is situated about 220km fro Colombo in the northcentral plains. Polonnaruwa can be reached by car, coach, train or by bus and the trip tales over 6 hours.
Polonnaruwa is blessed with abundant wilderness, large number of man made ancient tanks and reservoirs, ruins of the kingdom, paddy fields and wild life. The largest of these man made tanks is the Parakrama Samudraya, the sea of Parakrama, which is larger than Colombo harbour in size.
Anuradhapura was to continue for six hundred years as the national capital. But internecine struggles for the royal succession grew, and it became more and more vulnerable to the pressures of South Indian political expansion. The city was finally abandoned and the capital withdrawn to more secluded areas.
But the monuments of Anuradhapura's heyday survive, surrounded by the solemn umbrage of trees, scions of an ancient parkland.
The gateway to the northwest, and the first of its great sights, is Dambulla, where one of Sri Lanka's finest cave temples stands - 150m (150yd) outside the modern village, and 72km (45 miles) north of Kandy on the outskirts of the dry zone. Within five large caverns the largest some 50m (360ft) deep and 6m (19ft) in height, are sitting, standing and reclining Buddha images by the dozen, as well as Hindu gods; and each cave is decorated with mural paintings of scenes from the Buddha's life. These murals are much more modern than the carvings, some of which are as much as 200 years old. The first temples are said to have been created by King Valagam Bahu (104-76BC), one of the kings of Anuradhapura, who was driven from his throne by South Indian invaders during the 1st century BC. He took shelter here, and on regaining power had a rock temple built in thanksgiving. The ascent to the caves - which are on the higher part of one of the smooth, sloping crags of rock that are a feature of dry zone landscapes - is steep, but as a reward for your efforts there is a great view of the crag of Sigiriya, about 20km (12 miles) away.
| Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth is said to house a relic from the mouth of the Lord Buddha, himself, which was said to have been taken from the flames of his funeral pyre and smuggled to Ceylon in the hair of a princess. The Tooth was pirated to India by an invading army but brought back. Then Catholic zealots stole something they thought was the tooth and destroyed it when the Portuguese captured Kandy. But the Sinhalese claimed it was a false tooth and that the original still rests inside the Temple of the Tooth. The temple was constructed during the time of the Kandyan kings in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Matara is situated in the southern province of Sri Lanka, 160 kilometers from Colombo. The Nilwala River, which has fertilized the entire region, runs through the town, flowing eventually into the sea. Tourists from all over the world are attracted to Matara's natural scenic beauty. One can see lush paddy fields, verdant tea estates and fragrant spice plantations stretching to the horizon. The Nilwala River and Indian Ocean have blessed Matara with a thriving fishing industry, which provides both a source of income and a steady supply of fresh fish. Matara is also famous for its safe, sandy beaches. The city of Matara has an area of just over 8.8 square kilometers. It is divided into fifteen wards or local units for the purpose of local administration. Matara has a population of about 76,000 and the average temperature is 30c.