Start Fort, or someone called “Tharaka Kotuwa,” is an ancient building in Matara, Sri Lanka. It was built by the Dutch as a defense building during the period of 1763–1765. The start fort is located 350 meters east of the Matara fort on the Nilvala River. The Dutch called this fort “Redoute van Eck” back then.

The Dutch captured Sri Lanka from the Portuguese in 1638. They captured the Matara fort from the Portuguese and reconstructed it in 1640. However, it was vulnerable to attackers coming from the land. The Matara Rebellions and the Kandyan Kingdom army attacked and captured the Matara Dutch Fort in 1762. Anyhow, the Dutch re-captured the fort in 1763. They identified the vulnerable situation of the fort and then decided to increase its strength. As a result, they planned to build the Star Fort.

The name “Star Fort” comes from its unique shape. It has a six-pointed star with enough space for 12 large cannons to cover all directions. The rampart walls have been constructed with granite rocks and corals. The width of the rampart wall is 14 feet. It also has got enough space to hold a small garrison, food supplies, and ammunition.

Further, it has two prison cells and a well in the center with a 2.75-meter diameter. The roof of the building was completed with cadjam leaves in the early days and then replaced with clay tiles. There is a deep moat around the Star Fort, which also provides additional protection.

Even today, you can see the VOC emblem and the year of the construction near the main gate. The Dutch were made to live in this fort for their protection, but they never had a chance to prove that. They handed over the Star Fort to the British in 1796.

The site is still open to visitors and is under the control of the Sri Lankan government. You can walk around the star fort and experience the Dutch culture in Sri Lanka. It is a nice place to visit around the Matara area of Sri Lanka.

 

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(Star Fort Image Credit: Viraj De Alwis from Facebook)

Pidurangala Rock is another famous tourist attraction in the Sigiriya area. It is a 360-degree viewpoint with a nice little hike to follow. The view of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress from Pidurangala Rock is simply breathtaking, and we believe you’ve seen it while searching for images of Sri Lanka on Google Images.

Pidurangala Rock is not as famous as Sigiriya Rock. But it is a superb destination that you should also visit during your tour of Sigiriya. It is located 2 kilometers to the north of the rock fortress. The hike will start from the Pidurangala Raja Maha Viharaya, where the initial part of the hike is not very difficult. In the beginning, there is a clear and nice footpath. After that, you will meet the Pidurangala cave temple and the ancient ruins around it. Historians believe that the ruins date back more than 2000 years. They also believe the entire area was a monastery before King Kashyapa came to Sigiriya in the 5th century AD.

After the cave temple, your hike will become much harder, and you will have to cross some difficult spots. The route is easy to find thanks to the man-made red arrow signs. Anyhow, your route is along the large boulders. If you are an experienced hiker, it will only take you around 30 minutes to climb this rock. But if you are a lazy hiker, then it will take you around 45 to 60 minutes to reach the top.

The view from Pidurangala Rock is absolutely fabulous. It is an ideal spot to take some rare images. From there, you can observe most parts of the Central and North-Central provinces of Sri Lanka. The best time to visit there is at sunrise and sunset. These times allow you to take your best shots.

As a visitor, you should buy a ticket to enter Pidurangala Rock. It is open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no water source on the top; therefore, you should bring enough water with you.

Finally, we suggest that you don’t forget this place during your travels to Sigiriya Rock Fortress or Dambulla Cave Temple.

 

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(Cover Image Source: @ParadiseSrilanaka 

Introduction

Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple that is situated in the Mahiyangana Area of Sri Lanka. The place belongs to the Badulla district of Uva Province, where the temple is situated a few kilometers away from Mahiyangana City. This is a historically and religiously important place for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It is considered by the Mahiyangana Temple as one of the Solosmasthana, or 16 sacred religious locations in the country.

How to get Mahiyangana Temple?

The distance to the location from Colombo is 185km and from Kandy City is 68km. You can easily reach the location if you are following the Colombo-Padiyathalawa A26 route. After reaching Mahiyangana City, you need to go around 3 kilometers along the Mahiyangana-Badulla Route to reach the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya.

History of the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya

According to the Mahavansa, Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka after the 9th month of enlightenment. This happened on the full moon, Poya day, of the Duruthu month. The Lord Buddha’s aim was to stop the fight between two groups of local people called “Yakkhas. On that day, the place was renowned as “Mahanaga Park,” where Lord Buddha landed in Mahiyangana. It was the first time Lord Buddha landed in Sri Lanka in the 6th century BC.

Lord Buddha gave his hair relics to the god ‘Saman’, and then he made a stupa in the Mahiyagana Area by keeping those hair relics. In the early days, it was renowned as the “Miyuguna Viharaya”. The place where the stupa was established is considered where Buddha kept his feet in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya and the area are extremely important places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

In history, Mahiyana and the surrounding area were called “Binthenna”. It was a historically important place because it connected both Ruhuna and Rajarata.

The stupa of the Mahiyangana Temple was reconstructed on many occasions. King Devanampiyathissa, King Dutugemunu, King Parakramabahu, and King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe were some of the kings who contributed to the development of the temple. In the last century, former Prime Minister DS Senanayake contributed to the Modern Stupa of the Mahiyanagana Raja Maha Viharaya.

Modern Temple

The modern temple looks really beautiful from a distance. You can find many beautiful photos of the temple on Instagram and other social media. Many pilgrims visit the place every day, and it is a fabulous place to visit in the Uva province of Sri Lanka. The surroundings also look so beautiful, with many mountains and paddy fields. The Mahaveli River also flows near the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya. The perahera festival in Mahiyangana is also a nice cultural festival to watch in Sri Lanka.

Places to Visit in Mahiyanagana and Surrounding Areas

Sorabora Wewa

-Dambana Weddha Village

Rathna Ella waterfall in Hasalaka

-18 Bends Route in Udadumbara

Wasgamuwa National Park


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(Note: Mahiyangana Temple Image Credit goes to respective Owner)

Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist monastery that is situated in the Kirinda area of southern Sri Lanka. It is a historically important place in Sri Lankan history. There are numerous ancient ruins and historical evidence that have helped to establish the surrounding areas of this monastery. Sithulpawwa is a place that belongs to Block 1 of the Yala National Park. Therefore, anybody can visit this place during their tour to the Yala Nationa Park.

 

Location

Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is located 294km away from the capital, Colombo. The distance from Galle city is 165km and from Ella tourist city is 103km. You can reach this place by travelling 18km along the Yodakandiya-Tissmaharama route from the Kataragama Pilgrimage City. The notice boards will easily direct you to the place. You will also see many wild animals along the route because it belongs to the Yala National Park. There is a nice park available to stop your vehicle.

 

History of the Sithulpawwa Temple

It is believed this monastery was built in the 2nd century BC by King Kavanthissa. At that time, this was named “Chiththala Pabbatha”, which means “The Hill of the Quiet Mind.” This history says that this was a place for Buddhist education for the Buddhist monks. It was also available for worship by the devotees. Today, many ancient cave temples, paintings, inscriptions, Buddha Stratues, and other Stratues can be found in the surrounding area.Most of the paintings have been destroyed, and those historians believe that those paintings belong to the Anuradhapura Kingdom era.

 

Other facts about Sithulpawwa

On the public holidays, Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a busy place. Therefore, it’s better if you can go there on a weekday. The large stupa on the large rock can be found from a long distance. The view from that rock is absolutely beautiful, and it is fantastic to take some beautiful photos. This is a nice place to visit if you are a person who loves to explore Sri Lankan culture and history.

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(Sithulpawwa Temple Background Image source: VISIT 2 SRI LANKA from Twitter

 

Lipton’s Seat is a popular high observation point in Sri Lanka among local and foreign travelers. It is situated at the top of the Poonagala Hills at an elevation of 1970m. This is also a viewpoint from which you can observe five major provinces in Sri Lanka. The route to Lipton’s seat is absolutely beautiful with greenish tea estates. We can suggest that it is another must-visit place near the Ella tourism city.

 

Location

Lipton’s seat is situated in the Badulla district of Uva Province. Haputale and Poonagala are the closest town to the area. Distance to here from Haputale is 16km and from Ella is 27km. There are two major routes to reach the place.

  • Bandarawela, Poonagala and through Nayabedda Estate
  • Hapuatale and through dambethenna tea estate

 

Those two routes are very scenic with lush and greenish tea plantations. It’s no matter whether you select one from them,

If you are starting from Ella, then the Poonagala – Nayabedda route is ideal for you. The surround is amazing to watch. Tuk Tuk is the most suitable vehicle for this route and it takes around 1 ½ hours to reach there. If you come from Colombo or from the Upcountry railway, then the Haputale-Dambethenna route should be your selection. The public transport busses are available on that route. But Tuk Tuk or a scooter are the most ideal vehicle for too this route. It also takes one hour to reach the destination.

However, you should buy a ticket to enter the Lipton’s seat. After the entrance, you have to walk around 1.5km to reach the actual viewpoint.

 

Amazing View

As we mentioned earlier, you can observe five major provinces in Sri Lanka from here. Those five provinces are; Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Eastern, Southern and Central. As well as you can clearly identify some of the key places. In a clear day you can identify Chandrika Lake, Udawlawa Lake, Handapanagala Lake, Hambanthota Harbour, Wedasitikanda Mountain, Devinuwara Lighthouse, South Coast and Tricomalee Lighthouse.

Early morning is the best time to visit Lipton’s Seat. On that time you can observe the beauty of the sunrise from the distance. It is actually a fantastic picture and you don’t forget to capture it with your camera. Sometimes, the mist will cover the place and it will destroy your stunning view. In such a time, you can see the clouds under you. If you are lucky person then you will see clear picture of the surrounding. If not you will be unhappy with the mist.

 

History

Lipton’s Seat and the surrounded Dambethenna tea estate was established by the Scottish tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton around 1890s. He was also contributed in development of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. He managed all the surrounded tea estates and lived on there. After his duties, he came to this view point and sited on their leisurely by observing the scenic view. Sir Thomas Lipton also started the Dambethenna Tea Factory for the manufacturing of tea. On those time this was the estate produced the best Black Tea in the country.

 

Other Facts about Lipton’s Seat

  • Catherine Seat is another nice view point near the Lipton’s seat. It is few kilometers away and which is situated in the Nayabedda estate. This view point also generate a scenic picture and you can clearly identify the places like Bandarawela, Diyathalawa, Uva Valley and Namunukula Range.
  • Lemathota Waterfall is a nice waterfall that you will meet it in the Dambethenna estate. But it is not popular among most of the travelers. However, it is another nice place to wait for few minutes.
  • Lipton’s seat is a place with cool climate. You should be ready for that before go there. As well as you can expect sudden changing weather.
  • There is a nice statue of the Sir Thomas Lipton near the viewpoint. You can sit neat it and enjoy the beauty of the atmosphere.
  • The place is open from 6am to 5pm. Anyhow, Morning is the ideal time to go there.
  • You can visit Dambethenna Tea Factory and further can analyze the tea manufacturing procedure.

 

(Cover Image Source & Credit: Lanka Classy Tours Twitter

Introduction to the Temple of the Tooth Relic

When you think of visiting a rich culture, Sri Lanka always pops into your head. A lot of tourists visit Sri Lanka because of its rich culture and history. This tiny island has so much history, with tales of kings, kingdoms, and temples. One of the most admired places in the whole world is the Temple of the Tooth Relic. In Sinhalese, it is called “Sri Dalanda Maligawa.” It has significant connections to the history of our country.

When you visit Sri Lanka, Put this on top of your must-see list because it is indeed a must-see. Our excellent guides will take you through the temple complex to give you a clear idea of the historical value of the place. Come ready to receive an experience of a lifetime with us in this beautiful place. You will be given a guide who is thorough with local knowledge. If you require language specific guides, they can be provided as well.

The history and architecture of the temple

The importance of this temple is that it accommodates the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. The temple is situated in Kandy, where the royal palace was, during the reign of the Kandyan Kingdom. The tooth relic was preserved and protected in India and was brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha.

The entrance of the temple has one of the main architectural symbols in the Kandyan Kingdom. It is called a Sandakada Pahana (Moonstone). It has the shape of a half-circle with many carvings that symbolize prosperity, peace, culture, and other religious figures. This is placed at the entrance below the staircase. The main gate is called ‘Mahawahalkada’ and it was once completely destroyed. But afterwards, it was renovated, along with its symbols and figures, that are similar to the original.

The Tooth Relic

The Tooth Relic is safely kept in a chamber called ‘Handun Kunama.” It is protected by seven caskets which are engraved with precious stones and gems. One of these caskets is used in the pageant, which happens once a year. These caskets have the shape of a‘stupa.’

Why is this temple important?!

Sri Lanka was originally a Buddhist country. Hence, the Temple of the Tooth Relic is utterly treasured and protected by the community. First of all, it is situated in one of the main cities in Sri Lanka. It was built in the times of the Kandyan Kingdom, and to this date, the temple has not lost its importance. It houses the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. Devotees from all over the island come to worship at this temple because they believe it to be a sacred and holy place.

Pay a visit to one of the important religious spots in the country

Come and enjoy a matchless evening in the Temple of the Tooth Relic premises. See the devotees worship in reverence and honor towards their belief. It is indeed a sight to behold

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(Cover Image Source: @fake_or_real_ from Instagram)

Pettigala Mountain is a famous travel destination around Kandy City. It has been widely popular among local and international travelers recently. This single little mountain is situated in the Teldeniya area, about 20km away from Kandy. The beautiful view of the Victoria Reservoir and the amazing panoramic view have attracted many tourists here.

Pettigala Mountain consists of 760m of elevation from sea level. You first need to come to Digana town, which is 15km away from Kandy. Then you need to follow the Senarathwela-Digana road to reach the final location. That will all take one hour from Kandy City. Before reaching the mountain, you will enter the Bamabaragala Temple.

Bambaragala Temple is a culturally and historically valuable place in the Kandy area. History says that the area consists of 79 caves. These caves were built in 2-3 centuries A.C. Bambaragala Old Temple was modified in the 18th century by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe. You can see some old paintings in this old temple. But you will not be allowed to take photographs of them.

The footpath to Pettigala Mountain starts from the Bambaragala Old Temple. The trek is not very hard and it’s through a forest with moderate difficulty. Some parts are much more difficult to cross because of their steep slopes. You will pass two caves during the trek; they are called “Situwam Lena and Indrasala Guhawa. One hour of trekking will carry you to the summit of Pettigala Mountain.

The top of the mountain consists of manabushes and big stones. There is no water source at the top. You have a large area to walk in and that will give you a few viewpoints. These viewpoints will provide different views of the surrounded areas. The large stone that is situated at the edge of the mountain is actually called “Pettigala. It’s the best viewpoint of the mountain. You can sit there and watch a clear picture of Victoria Reservior. As well, you can see some prominent peaks of the Knuckles Massif.

The view from the top is absolutely amazing and beautiful. From here, you can observe a lot of areas of the Kandy district. Evenings are the best time to visit Pettigala Mountain, and that will generate some amazing photographs of the sunset.

(Cover Photo Credit: SL Traveler )

Nine Arch Bridge in Demodara is one of the most famous travel destinations in Sri Lanka. Most of the travelers who come to the Ella region will not forget to visit this place. It’s an old bridge that was built in the British Era in Sri Lanka. The bridge is also called the “Bridge in the Sky.

The Nine Arch Bridge is 300m in length and 80ft in height. There you can see nine spans. The width of the bridge is 25 ft and the elevation of the place is 3100 ft from sea level. This is located halfway between Ella and the Demodara Railway Station.to the Nine Arch Bridge from Demodara Railway Station is 9km and from Ella it is 4km. If you are starting from Ella town, you can easily hire a tuk tuk to reach this place. But you have to walk a few meters to meet the bridge.

The bridge connects two mountains and the Badulla–Colombo Railway. It was opened in 1921. This construction demonstrates the excellence of the architecture and engineering of the early 20th century. During the construction of this project, the First World War happened. It has affected the import of steel from abroad. The British rulers then decided to finish the project without using any steel or metal.The only materials used were stones, bricks, and cement.

P.K. Appuhami and D.J. Wimalasurendra are two Ceylonese who vastly helped to succeed in this project. Then they finished the work and opened the Nine Arch Bridge in 1921. Laterally, they finished the Colombo–Badulla Railway in 1924.

The Nine Arch Bridge in Demodara is normally crowded during holidays. The best time to go is between 9 and 11 a.m. in the morning.It’s an ideal place to take some beautiful photos. A few of the cafes are available in the area for visitors. The train journey between Colombo and Ella is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. So, you should not miss it.

Read More: Ella City Tour with Mahaweli Tours & Holidays

(Cover Image Credit:@choineczkaa from Instagram) 

Dambulla Cave Temple, or something called Dambulu Temple,” is a sacred pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka. This is situated in the Dambulla area of the Matale District. It is considered the best preserved and largest cave temple complex in the country. The site was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991.

Dambulla is a historical and economically valuable city in the country. The distance to Dambulla from Colombo is 148km and from Kandy is 72km. You will pass through this city once you travel to Anuradhapura or Seegiriya. Both places are not far from here.

Cave Temple and History

Dambulla Cave Temple consists of five major caves. But the fifth cave has no historical value and was built in the last century. The other four caves are called

Cave Number 1: Deva Raja Viharaya

Cave Number 2: Maha Raja Viharaya

Cave Number 3: Maha Alut Viharaya

Cave Number 4: Paschima Viharaya

The largest cave among those is the “Maharaja Vihara Lena”. Many strata can be seen in those caves. These strata represent Lord Buddha, the Gods in Hinduism, and the ancient Kings of the country. Apart from the stratues, you can see around 150 ancient paintings in these caves. These paintings have covered 2100 square meters. Ancient Brahmi characters can be seen just below the drip-legde of the central cave. This evidence shows that Dambulla Cave Temple has a long history.

King Walagamba was a great king in Sri Lankan history. He escaped here when the South Indians attacked the Anurahapura Kingdom in the 1st century BC. He later developed this cave temple, and you can still see a stratue of King Walagamba here today. Ibbbankatuwa is a nearby place to Dambulla, which was an important place in the pre-historical period of Sri Lanka. Evidence has found that people lived in the surrounded areas in the 7th century BC.

Dambulla Golden Temple is a modern architectural temple that is situated near the ancient Cave Temple. You can come to both while you are traveling in central Sri Lanka. We should say it is a best place that you should not miss as a traveler.

Polonnaruwa Day Tour-Great Opportunity to Explore Sri Lankan History & Culture

Are you up to seeing one of the most beautiful and rich cities in Sri Lanka? Are you up for a great day with history? The Polonnaruwa Day Tour is an ideal option for that. Sri Lanka has a strong history of kingdoms and is very rich in culture. This island has so much to see for its locals as well as its tourists. People who come to this country are never disappointed by the beauty, culture, and history of this place.

Our Polonnaruwa Day Tour is designed to give you a historical perspective of one of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities. We will provide a guide for you who is able to communicate with you in English. We ensure that the guides are thorough with local knowledge and historic information. If you require language-specific guides, it can be arranged through a special request as well.

This day tour is conducted during the day because it is a cultural tour and a lot of visits to ancient ruins are included.

The Royal City of Polonnaruwa

The Sri Lanka Cultural Traingle connects the three cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy. This cultural triangle contains many historical and ancient sites. Polonnaruwa is an ancient city considered as one of the eight UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. This is the place you should definitely visit if you love to explore Sri Lanka’s history.

It is declared as the second ancient city in Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura. Polonnaruwa was one of the kingdoms in Sri Lankan history and was ruled and reigned over by many kings at the time. The main difference between these two kingdoms is that, unlike the Anuradhapura kingdom, Polonnaruwa had a lot of influence from Hinduism and was even ruled by some Tamil kings. This cultural city has a lot of Hindu kovils apart from the Buddhist temples. It is also a city that has been famous for its agriculture. There are a lot of farmers out there.

Must-see places in Polonnaruwa

One of the significant places in Polonnaruwa is the ancient ruins of the Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu. Even though you can only see ruins, they are evidence of great architecture and design. Another main attraction is “Gal Viharaya’ which consists of many beautiful images and statues of Buddha. It is a symbol of excellence in carving. Apart from that, there are temples, stupas, and dagobas that are quite significant in the city, such as Lankathilaka Temple, Rankot Vehera, Thuparama gedige, and Potgul Viharaya.

The ruins in Polonnaruwa are so much more than what is described above. Apart from those temples and stupas, the city also has many Hindu temples and kovils due to the influence of Hinduism. There are several temples dedicated to the god Shiva and the god Vishnu in Polonnaruwa, all considered as historical ruins.

Beautiful Sri Lanka, beautiful Polonnaruwa.

Our Polonnaruwa day tour is considered very informative and educational. During this day-tour, you will learn about the many influences Polonnaruwa had as a kingdom, the names of kings that ruled, and the agricultural influence. It is an ideal day trip for everyone that loves experiencing new cultures and discovering history. Sri Lanka in general has a very rich history in terms of kingdoms, agriculture, and civilization.

Polonnaruwa Day Tour with Mahaweli Tours & Holidays

Come and join the tour to enjoy this magnificent ancient kingdom with great history. Our guides will guide you throughout the tour to give you the most exhilarating tour experience. Don’t forget to bring your smart phones and cameras to capture these mighty sights.

Possible Starting/Pick-up Locations:
Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Pasikudha, Trincomalee, Nilaegombo (You can let us know your exact location for us to check and confirm the possibility)

Duration : It takes around 3 hours to complete the visit of the Polonnaruwa ancient city. You can walk or we can arrange some bicycles if you prefer some cycling.

Tour Type : Our Polonnaruwa Day Tour is a private tour. The vehicle and the guide/chauffeur guide are dedicated to you and your group. The safari tour will be done by an off-road vehicle and traveling to the starting point and back will be done by a comfortable car, van, or mini coach.

If you are a person with a cultural interest, then you should definitely explore places in Sri Lankan cultural-traingle. You can also plan your Anuradhapura city tour with us too! Call +94777 111553, email: info@mahaweli.lk, or contact us for more information on any of these issues!

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(Polonnaruwa Image Credit: PT Palace from Pinterest