My Ceylon adventure Part I: Cultural Triangle (Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla)

sri lanka street cover

If you have been following my twitter feed at jothetartqueen, you would have caught some of the tweets and photos that I have been sharing while I was in Sri Lanka.

It was quite an accidental trip as Sri Lanka has never been a top of mind destination. But I’m happy to report that this a happy accident.

We spent 12 days on this island country and it was almost too short.

I’ll be sharing my Ceylon adventure in the next couple of posts, starting with today’s one on the Cultural Triangle in Sri Lanka.


We started our Ceylon adventure bleary eyed, our driver greeted us at the Colombo airport at the ungodly hour of 2am. We were then zoomed off  on a 4.5 hour journey through near pitch black, windy roads to our hotel at Dambulla.

Daylight broke as we approached our resort situated along the Kandalama lake. It was a tranquil and peaceful sight that we got used to for the next two days.

Dambulla and Sigiriya

Lion's rock Sigiriya

We managed to check in early at our resort Amaya Lake and took a happy catnap. Feeling refreshed and all ready for some exploration, we headed to Sigiriya.

Sigiriya is an ancient city built in the 5th Century AD.  Try imagine that scene from centuries ago as you walk through the remains of the capital, the ruins of the fortified palace and the terraced gardens. It was quite the sight!

However, the arduous climb to the summit of the Lion’s Rock where the royal palace used to stand took quite a bit from us especially with the mid-day sun rays beating down our tired backs. The summit is where the original palace used to stand. However, only the foundations are left. The view from the top was rewarding enough though. You could get an aerial view of  the terrace gardens and water features

climb up sigiriya Summit Sigiriya

What I love most about Sigiriya is the famed Sigiriya frescoes of the Sigiriya celestial damsels. They are painted with natural dye and it is amazing that 21 out of 500 of them survived till this day.

sigiriya damsels

monkey at sigiriya

Thankfully, after the walk and climb at Sigiriya, we decided to head back to our hotel for a dip in the pool and to enjoy an idyllic walk in our resort by the Kandamala lake in the late evening.

We had some local beer, Lion beer, by the pool which was the perfect way to cure a jetlag!

kandamala lake dambulla


Buddha polonnaruwa

Undoubtedly, we slept like babies on our first night in Sri Lanka. That was probably a good idea since the next day was another long day of walking in the extensive grounds of a medieval Sri Lanka civilization, Polonnaruwa.

It is worth a visit if you ever go to Sri Lanka for it gives you a glimpse into its ancient city with Buddhism influences. The is the second Sinhalese capital, after Anuradhapuran fell to foreign invasion in the 12th Century AD.

The entire site is 4km and is a little too large to cover on foot (8km to walk to and back) especially in the sweltering heat. It is probably a good idea to get a tuk tuk or a bicycle for this.

The  remains are still very well-preserved and you don’t need too much imagination to picture the kingdom that once stood.  It is probably a good idea to go through the museum thoroughly as it gives you some explanation of the relics that you would be seeing at the site.

We spent a full day at Polonnaruwa, including the time it takes to travel from our resort in Dambulla. It was a good day at the ancient ruins albeit a very hot one (Did I mention that already?)! We were literally melting under the hot sun and there was not much shade at the ruins.

On our way back to the resort, we saw a few young boys swimming in the Kandalama lake. They smiled widely at us and said their warm hellos before continuing with their back flips and big splashes in the water. Such happy spirits!

We spent a quiet evening chilling by the large grounds of the beautiful resort and packing up for the next part of our journey.

Do look out for my next post on my travels in Kandy and Hill Country… Till then, have a great weekend!


Polonnaruwa 1 Polonnaruwa

Travel shortcuts

Amaya Lake Resort, Dambulla
Kap Ela, Kandalama Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 664 461500

There is not much night life in Dambulla, Sigiriya or Polonnaruwa. It is best to have a good dinner at your hotel and enjoy a local beer on the hotel’s grounds.


Lion’s Rock
You need about 2 -3 hour to visit the entire site. Best to go early in the day or in the evenings so it will be cooler. Dress in light colours and in cotton/linen.
Directions: about 30 mins car ride from Dambulla
Entrance fee: US$30

Ruins of Polonaruwa and museum
A good day trip from Dambulla or Sigiriya. Takes about 2 hr one way by car. Wear light coloured linen clothing and a hat. Do note that you can’t wear shorts/sleeveless shirts into certain parts of Polonaruwara as they are religious sites. You can bring along a scarf/shawl as a cover up.
Entrance fee: US$25

About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
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5 Responses to My Ceylon adventure Part I: Cultural Triangle (Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla)

  1. Your photos are absolutely beautiful my friend, I feel like I was there with you 😀
    So much culture to take in.


  2. It looks so beautiful there and so serene and spiritual too! 😀 And how cute are those monkeys? 🙂

  3. Preveena says:

    You story and photographs gives you the gist of the place, but leaving you wanting to actually visit the place and know more. Loved it!

  4. Great photos! Sounds amazing

  5. walkers67 says:

    love the photography

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