We visited Sri Lanka in November, 2007. Sri Lanka has been a Buddhist country for the past 2000 years, 2nd only to India. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Indian Buddhist Emporer Asoka’s pen-pal, King Tissa of Anuradhapura. 236 years after the death of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka, a stunningly picturesque island nation, boasts having the oldest written history in the world and this is derived from a Buddhist canon and historical epic Mahavamsa begun during the reign of King Tissa. It was continuously updated up until about 1959, a feat of cooperation through the ages that feels amazing to even contemplate.
We hired a driver for the entire ten days we were there through a company called Boutique Sri Lanka. Our driver’s name was Aslam and we would recommend him in a heartbeat. He was not only a wonderful driver, always hooking us up with the best tour guides at each site we visited, but he was also just a dear, honest young man making a living as best he can in a country currently torn apart by war and a non-supportive conservative government. It seems they often go hand in hand.
We chose to do a tour of The Cultural Triangle, a 6 site project created by UNESCO in 1978 to preserve the ancient ruins and cultural history in Sri Lanka. The Cultural Triangle is bounded by Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The other three sites are Dambulla, Jetavana and Sigiriya. We visited all except Anuradhapura, due to the ongoing conflict in the north, and Jetavana. One day we plan to return.
I have written (and am currently in the process of completing) four posts on the Buddhist sites we visited. I have provided links to each post here.