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  3. Preserving Paradise: An exploration of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Meditation and Mindfulness in Sri Lanka: Finding Inner Peace in a Serene Surrounding

UNESCO World Heritage sites are sites that are deemed to have outstanding universal value and are considered to be of immense importance to the collective heritage of humanity, in terms of cultural or natural significance.

 

These sites are selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) based on strict criteria that take into account their significance and uniqueness. There are currently over 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage sites, located in more than 160 countries and Sri Lanka is home to 8 selected sites.

 

Under Culture – the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (1982), Ancient City of Sigiriya (1982), Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (1988), Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple (1991), Sacred City of Anuradhapura (1982), and the Sacred City of Kandy (1988) are named. Under Nature – the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (2010) and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve (1988) are named. These sites are protected and preserved for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

 

The Ancient City of Sigiriya

Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is an ancient rock fortress located in Sri Lanka that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Located in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle – Sigiriya is considered one of the most significant cultural sites in Sri Lanka, as it provides a glimpse into the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. The site also includes the remains of an ancient royal palace and civilisation which is considered to have been home to engineering marvels from the ancient world.

 

UNESCO designated Sigiriya as a World Heritage Site to recognize its outstanding universal value and to promote its preservation and protection for future generations. The Sri Lankan government has also undertaken efforts to preserve and restore the site, including ongoing conservation and restoration projects to ensure the long-term survival of this unique cultural treasure.

 

The Sacred City of Kandy

Kandy is a city in Sri Lanka that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Home to a number of historic monuments and buildings, including the Royal Palace of Kandy, the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic), and the Gadaladeniya Temple. Kandy was the last capital of the ancient Sri Lankan kingdom and is considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in the country. The city is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists and contains the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha.

 

UNESCO designated Kandy as a World Heritage Site to recognize its outstanding universal value and to promote its preservation and protection for future generations. The Sri Lankan government has also undertaken efforts to preserve and restore the city’s monuments, including ongoing conservation and restoration projects to ensure the long-term survival of this unique cultural treasure.

 

Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Galle is a city in southern Sri Lanka that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, and was an important trading port during the colonial era, boasting a rich history of European influence, particularly from the Dutch and British. The city’s fortifications, built by the Dutch in the 17th century, are considered one of the best-preserved examples of European colonial architecture in Asia.

 

UNESCO designated Galle as a World Heritage Site to recognize its outstanding universal value and to promote its preservation and protection for future generations. The Sri Lankan government has also undertaken efforts to preserve and restore the city’s historic buildings and fortifications, including ongoing conservation and restoration projects to ensure the long-term survival of this unique cultural treasure.

 

The Sacred City of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is an ancient city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city served as the capital of the country for over 1,300 years and is regarded as one of the most significant historical and cultural sites in Sri Lanka.

 

The city has played an important role in shaping the cultural identity of Sri Lanka. The site is home to many ancient structures that are considered to be architectural marvels, such as the Abhayagiri Monastery, the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, and the Thuparamaya Stupa. Anuradhapura has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique and significant cultural heritage. The site has been carefully preserved and maintained, and efforts are continually made to protect and conserve the historic monuments and structures within the city.

 

The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is an ancient city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site that served as the second capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th century and is regarded as one of the most important historical and cultural sites in Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa is home to many important cultural monuments, including the Gal Vihara, which features four large Buddha statues carved out of a single granite slab. The city is also home to many sacred temples, palaces, and other structures that reflect the unique cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.

 

Polonnaruwa has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique and significant cultural heritage. The site has been carefully preserved and maintained, and efforts are continually made to protect and conserve the historic structures and monuments within the city.

 

Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple

The Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Matale district of Sri Lanka. It is a complex of five rock cave temples, which contain many ancient statues, paintings, and other artefacts.

 

The Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique and significant cultural heritage. The site has been carefully preserved and maintained, and efforts are continually made to protect and conserve the historic structures and artefacts within the complex.

 

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the southwestern region of Sri Lanka. It is the country’s last remaining tropical rainforest and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Sri Lanka. The reserve is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, including 18 species of birds and 14 species of mammals that are found only in Sri Lanka. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a key conservation area for Sri Lanka’s tropical rainforest ecosystem and is an important UNESCO World Heritage site due to its biodiversity, conservation efforts, ecotourism potential, and research opportunities. The reserve plays a crucial role in protecting and promoting Sri Lanka’s natural heritage and is a valuable resource for both Sri Lanka and the global community.

 

Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the central region of Sri Lanka. It is an extensive mountainous area that covers several national parks, forests, and reservoirs. The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots. The area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including many endemic species that are found only in Sri Lanka. Overall, the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is an important UNESCO World Heritage site due to its biodiversity, watershed protection, cultural significance, and scenic beauty. The area plays a crucial role in protecting and promoting Sri Lanka’s natural and cultural heritage and is a valuable resource for both Sri Lanka and the global community.

 

Planning your next visit to Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites reflect the country’s rich cultural history and heritage. From ancient temples and monasteries to majestic forts and palaces, these sites offer a glimpse into the country’s fascinating past. Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in some of the country’s most scenic and picturesque areas. From the lush rainforests of Sinharaja to the misty peaks of the Central Highlands, these sites offer a unique and unforgettable travel experience.

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