Anuradhapura Population : 99,000 District : Anuradhapura Typical Weather : Warm and Sunny Distance from Colombo : 206 km Highlight : Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka’s first capital, founded in the 5th century B.C. Attractions : The sacred Bo tree, Abhayagiri Dagaba, Jetavanaramaya, Brazen Palace, Thuparama Dagaba, Samadhi Buddha, KuttamPokuna and Mirisavati Dagaba. Mihintale Population : 22,000 District : Anuradhapura Typical Weather : Warm and Sunny Distance from Colombo : 217 km Highlight : Situated 11 km east of Anuradhapura Attractions : This is regarded as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The rock is dotted with shrines and rock dwellings. A grand stairway of 1840 steps made of granite slabs, 5 metres wide, leads to the summit with its splendid view of the surrounding countryside. Polonnaurwa Population : 106,000 District : Polonnaruwa Typical Weather : Warm and Sunny Distance from Colombo : 216 km Highlight : The island’s medieval capital (11th to 13th century A.D.) rose to fame after the decline of Anuradhapura, the first capital. Attractions : Parakrama Samudra, the largest of man-made reservoir, ruins of the King’s Council Chamber, the Royal Citadel, the Kumara Pokuna, Royal Pavilion, the Vatadage Relic House lavished with moonstones, guard stones and sculptured railing, KiriVehera – the best preserved of all Sri Lanka’s un-restored Dagabas, Gal Vihare – the most impressive sculptures are the colossal Buddha images carved on the face of a granite boulder. The recumbent Buddha measures 14 metres and the standing figure is 7 metres in height. Sigiriya District : Matale Typical Weather : Warm and Sunny Dist. from Colombo : 169 km Highlight : This rock fortress was built by king Kasyapa in the 5th century A.D. and was a royal citadel for more than 18 years. Attractions : In a sheltered pocket, approached by a spiral stairway, on display are the famous frescoes which are still appreciated for their uniqueness. The summit of the rock, with an area of nearly one hectare was the site of the palace, the outer wall of which was built on the very brink of the precipice. The UNESCO – sponsored Central Cultural Fund has restored Sigiriya’s 5th century Water Gardens to their former glory.