Sri Lanka is a land of great cultural diversity. Religion pervades many aspects of life and constitutes a basic element of this diversity. Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as mosques and churches, with their own colourful rituals, are the most readily visible features of the cultural landscape. Varying degrees of colonial impact, modernizing influences, and wealth and income add other shades to the cultural mosaic.
In architecture, sculpture, and painting, Sri Lanka’s traditions extend far back into antiquity. The remnants of ancient works restored and preserved at archaeological sites, while reflecting Indian influences, also bear testimony to the inspiration derived from Buddhism. Classical literature, too, presents a blend of stylistic influences from India with Buddhist themes. Since the beginning of the 20th century, with the literati being exposed to European literature, local creative writing has acquired greater diversity in style and has become more secular in content.
In the performing arts there are several Sinhalese and Tamil folk traditions and a host of recent imports and imitations. Among the folk dance forms, for example, one finds the highly refined Kandyan dancing, which has been associated over several centuries with state ceremony and religious ritual in and around the historic hill capital of Kandy. The more improvised “devil dancing” is performed at healing rites and exorcisms.
Sri Lanka contains astonishing six cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites are testament to a civilization with over 2000 years of recorded history. From the colossal ancient monuments and serene rock carvings in sprawling ruined cities, to a 5t century AD king’s palaces in the clouds showcase the Island’s rich history and contribution to civilization.
Experiencing Sri Lanka’s heritage sites takes you on a spiritual journey that will uplift and amaze, inspire and refresh. The Island’s compact dimensions mean that it is possible to combine a visit to several of these marvels in the Cultural Triangle during even the briefest of visits.