Choose to visit, Sigiriya and Dambulla – home to two of the UNESCO world heritage sites.
The 180 meter high spectacular 'Lion rock' fortress of Sigiriya built by King Kasyapa contains the ruins of a palace, water garden, boulder garden and a terrace garden. The surrounding "city" has its own Royal gardens, fountains and ponds. Every few feet during the climb from the foot of the rock to the top will give the experiential traveller something to marvel about.
Dambulla – City next door to Sigiriya has its own unique features. The rock cave temple on top of the Damubulu Gala (The Rock of Dambulla) with its five caves, statues and paintings is the main attraction.
The ruins of the capital built by King Kasyapa I (477–95) is on top of this 180 meter high 'Lion's Rock' surrounding a thick jungle on all sides. At the summit of the rock are the ruins of the palace, a boulder garden, water garden and a terrace garden. At the foot of the rock are the two quarters of the lower city - the eastern quarter and the aristocratic quarter. The rock paintings of 21 unidentified female figures known as the "Maidens of the Clouds" and some of the ancient Sinhala text known as the Sigiri Graffiti can be viewed half way up the climb.
Dambulla cave temple also known as the Golden Rock Temple is located within the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka and is at an elevation of 1118 feet from the sea level. The 600 feet high and 2000 feet long temple is considered the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka that dates back to 1st Century BC. The temple consists of 5 caves that contain 157 statues of varying sizes and paintings depicting the life of Lord Buddha.
Feel like Royalty? Visitors to the cities in Dambulla and Sigiriya have access to go on an Elephant ride around the village (of course with the assistance of a mahout) as did the Kings of ancient times. King Dutugemunu of the kingdom of Anuradhapura and the King Kasyapa, the "founder" of the Sigiriya Rock fortress are both known to have won their fights against the enemies while riding on elephants.
You can also choose to ride on a bullock cart instead. Bullock carts have been used since ancient times as a popular mode of transportation, though currently they are used mostly in the villages to transport heavy loads.
Either by Bullock cart or on the back of an Elephant, the ride to a village through banks of lakes, paddy fields with mountains in the far will give you a feeling of inner calmness.