Sri Lanka’s so-called „Cultural Triangle” is marked by the three most important former Sinhalese capitals, namely Anuradhapura (3rd century BC to 10th century AD) in the north-western corner, Polonnaruwa (11th to 13th century) in the east-northeastern corner and Kandy (16th to 18th century) at the southern tip of this heartland of the ancient Sinhalese civilization. All three cities formng this triangle are UNSECO World Heritage Sites today.
There are many more excavation sites in the Cultural Triangle, two of them are World Heritage Sites, too, namely the Golden Temple of Dambulla and the Sigiriya Lion Rock. Remarkably, all five Sinhalese World Heritage Sites belong to the Cultural Triangle. The other three Sri Lankan World Heritage Sites are colonial or natural, namely the Dutch fortress in Galle and the forested zones of Sinharaja and the Central Highlands respectively.
Kandy, Galle, Sinharaja rain forest and Central Highlands montane forest will be the topics of our 4 World Heritage blog articles in November.
Kandy - Sri Lanka's central World Heritage Site
Among those eight World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, Kandy is something special. Kandy is located right in the centre of the island. Till the present day, it is a cultural and spiritual capital and the guardian of Sinhalese traditions. Kandy is the juncture between the Cultural Triangle in the north-central lowlands and the highlands in the southern half of Central Sri Lanka. Kandy is also a juncture of historical periods, of medieval and modern and of independent and colonial history. So it forms a kind of connection between the World Heritages Sites Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa on the one side and Galle on the other side. It also marks a transition between cultural and natural heritage sites, as the Udawattakale sanctuary just behind the Sacred Tooth temple is a forested area within the city and the Kunckles Range, belonging to the Central Highlands World Heritage Site, can already be seen from the hills of Kandy.
So in many respects, Kandy is right in the focus of our World Heritage series on this Sri Lanka blog. This is why, in preparation of our main Kandy Sacred City article next week, we like to introduce Kandy by citing the UNESCO website http://whc.unesco.org/. We regard this sample quotation as a recommendation of their articles on each World Heritage Site. The UNESCO website presents the official list of World Heritage Sites, each with a short summary and a detailed “long description”. The cited UNESCO article is a good overview giving an account of Kandy’s history in general:
“Long Description The monumental ensemble of Kandy, rebuilt in the reign of Keerti Sri Rajasimha, is an outstanding example of a traditional type of construction in which the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth of Buddha are juxtaposed. The Temple of the Tooth, the palatial complex, and the sacred city of Kandy are directly and tangibly associated with the history of the spread of Buddhism, one of humanity's great religions. Built to house the relic of the tooth of Buddha, which had come from Kalinga (Orissa State, India) to Sri Lanka during the reign of Sri Meghavanna (310-28), when it was transferred a final time, the Temple of Kandy bears witness to an ever flourishing cult.
The 8 UNESCO World Heritage list articles on Sri Lanka’s 8 World Heritage Sites are:
Sacred City of Anuradhapura: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/200
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/201
Ancient City of Sigiriya: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/202
Sinharaja Forest Reserve: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/405
Sacred City of Kandy: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/450
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451
Golden Temple of Dambulla: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561
Central Highlands of Sri Lanka: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1203