Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is named after its three corner points, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and Kandy, which were the Sinhalese capitals succesively. The Cultural Triangle area, which is situated in the dry zone lowlands in the centre of the island just nirth of the highlands, is almost identical with the North Central Province and the Matale District of the Central Province.
The Cultural Triangle area is also almost identical with the territories of the ancient and medieval Sinhalese Kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, when this part of the island was called Rajarata, this means: "king's land". Looking on a map of Sri Lanka, you will see a lot of lakes in this area. Almost all of them are artificial and were constructed in ancient times, between the 4th century B.C.E and the 12th century B.C., this means: during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods. These reservoirs were vital for the ancient Sinhalese civilization, they were the basis of its agriculture. This is why the pre-colonial Sri Lankan kingdoms are sometimes called one of Asia's "hydraulic civilizations".
For today's travellers, Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle is the focus of study trips and cultural tours. All five of Sri Lanka's six ancient cultural World Heritage Sites are situated in the Cultural Triangle: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy. The island's other three UNESCO World Heritage Sites outside this area are either colonial (Galle) or natural (Sinharaja rain Forest, Central Highlands montane forest). Besides those five World Heritage sites, their are many more excavations of Sri Lanka's ancient places in the area of the Cultural Triangle, literally dozens of heritage sites, most of them ancient monasteries. Only five of them can be included in our "Cultural Triangle Top 10" destinations list, on the 5 lower ranks, of course:
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