Sri Lanka is a tropical country that lures globetrotters with its verdant landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and historical marvels. The pear-shaped island seems like a southerly extension of the Indian peninsular, comprising never-ending coastlines, central highlands, and plains. The dynamic topography of this iridescent country abodes a multitude of expeditions having an amalgam of natural beauty and antiquities. The eight outstanding UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka are noteworthy motivations behind numerous voyages to this Pearl of the Orient. If you wish to know all about these marvellous creations, continue reading to the bottom.

8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka

From ancient cities to enormous fortresses and lush green forest reserves, here are the 8 UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka:

1. Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

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The ancient city of Polonnaruwa served to be the second capital of this tropical paradise soon after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It is an archaeological relic site comprising, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.

During the bygone epoch, the city was ruled by King Vijayabahu who ensured the least wastage of rainwater, contributing to an effective irrigation system which is to date used to supply paddy fields with water during scarcity. This ancient city was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The historic royal bath and pool are the prime attraction here.

Location: W2W2+94G, Sudarshanarama Puranagama Rd, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Timings: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Entry fee: INR 500

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2. Ancient City of Sigiriya

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Another UNESCO world heritage site in Sri Lanka, the Ancient City of Sigiriya is about 25 km from Dambulla. The catastrophic city belongs to the fifth century and echoes glorious stories of the bygone era with its prolonged grandeurs comprising gardens, mirror walls, a monastery, and more.

The 200 m high granite Lion Rock highlighted with frescoes is paramount among visitors, along with the Maidens of the Clouds and the ruins of the royal palace. The ancient city predates the archaeological evidence of around the third century BC and was declared a heritage site in 1982.

Location: Central Province, Sri Lanka
Timings: Throughout the day
Entry fee: INR 1800

3. Sacred City of Anuradhapura

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If you wish to sneak peek at the well-preserved ruins of the early Sinhala edification, Anuradhapura, the ancient capital is an exemplary city that was once established by Sanghamitta. This city that served to be the centre of Theravada Buddhism for centuries is now one of the most popular UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka.

The remnants of the city marvels beside the banks of the Malvathu River and it is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Due to regional political turbulence in 993, this spectacular capital of Ceylonese politics was abandoned.

Location: Anuradhapura, city, north-central Sri Lanka
Timings: Throughout the day
Entry fee: INR 200

Suggested Read: Arugam Bay In Sri Lanka: A Guide To The Mesmerizing Beach On The Coast Of Sri Lanka

4. Sacred City of Kandy

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Senkadagalapura, also known as the Sacred City of Kandy is a sacred Buddhist site and the final capital of the Sinhala monarchs. It is the site where the Dinahala culture flourished for almost 2,500 years until the country was occupied by the British in 1815.

Home to the marvellous Temple of the Tooth Relic, the place welcomes visitors from all over the world throughout the year. This prominent site was declared a Unesco world heritage site in 1988. The sacred city also hosts an annual procession that includes a midnight parade accompanied by hundreds of elephants and thousands of drummers, dancers, and other musicians.

Location: 7JVR+G7V, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Timings: 5:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Entry fee: INR 400

5. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

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Sri Lanka abodes 22 national parks out of which Sinharaja Forest Reserve rules the hearts of wanderers. This biodiversity hotspot is a Biosphere Reserve with the least disturbed rainforests in the country.

Sinharaja is a native word that means lion king and serves to be the last viable primary tropical rainforest in the country. Home to endangered species, the forest reserve is endemic to 75% of mammals found in the country, along with 150 genera of birds and 19 types of freshwater fishes. This is one of the best UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka that allure wildlife enthusiasts from near and far.

Location: Rathnapura District, Sri Lanka
Timings: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Entry fee: INR 720

Suggested Read: Galle Fort: A Complete Guide To Know Everything About This Historical Gem In Sri Lanka

6. Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

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The Old Town of Galle is about 100 km from Colombo, and this fortified city was established by the Europeans. The town has its own leisure vibe where European architecture can be witnessed with an amalgamation of South Asian traditions. The olden vibe of the town gained popular in 1988 when it was declared the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sri Lanka.

Though the Bay of Galle dates back to 545, it has remained significant throughout and was the most active port in Sri Lanka in the 14th century. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese created a trading post here, along with a compact fort having a rampart. In the later years, the Dutch army overtook control of the site and flourished it into a formidable fortress.

Location: Galle, Sri Lanka
Timings: Throughout the day
Entry fee: INR 300

7. Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple

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Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple is a revered pilgrimage and is counted among the most preserved cave temple complexes. Home to five sanctuaries, you can witness outstanding Buddhist mural paintings and sculptures.

The site has remained inhabited since the 3rd century and has transformed into popular Buddhist complexes over the past decades. Being a prominent UNESCO world heritage site in Sri Lanka, the temple is maintained by the Asgiriya Chapter of Buddhist monks.

Location: Dambulla, ‎Matale District‎, ‎Sri Lanka
Timings: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Entry fee: INR 400

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8. Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

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The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka are known for exquisite biodiversity and features an abundance of greenery and endemism. The Highlands are recently added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. Around 34% of the country’s exclusive trees, shrubs, and herbs are found here. The topography features an array of orchids, mosses, and a lot more, along with Montane rainforest trees.

Location: South-central part of the island
Timings: Throughout the day
Entry fee: INR 30 for a day visit and INR 60 for an overnight visit.

Further Read: 10 Hatton Restaurants You Must Dine At On Your Sri Lanka Vacay

The UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka are the epitome of revelations giving you a wholesome understanding of Sri Lanka’s history, culture, beliefs, and sociopolitical growth. You can plan to unravel the astonishing facts of these sites by planning your future trip to Sri Lanka with TravelTriangle and enjoy vacationing like never before.

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Frequently Asked Questions About UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka

How many UNESCO world heritage sites are there in Sri Lanka?

There are a total number of 8 world heritage sites in Sri Lanka.

What are the best places to visit in Sri Lanka?

The following are the best places to visit in Sri Lanka - Dambulla Cave Temple, Yala National Park, Arugam Bay, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, Galle, Jaffna, Temple Of Tooth, Nuwara Eliya, and more.

How to reach Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple?

You can take a bus, taxi, or cab from Colombo to reach Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple.

Is there any heritage site in and around Galle?

Yes, the Old Town of Galle and its fortification is one of the eight UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka.

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