Lesser known tourist sites in Ceylon



The 12th century remains of the temporary capital of Parakramabahu I are nothing on the scale of Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, but it's worth stopping in if you're heading past, even though the sprawling site, covering 20ha (50ac) hasn't been fully excavated.

There are many stories about who lived in this palace and why it was built, but however attractive they may be the fact is that no-one really knows why this place was built.


Dimbulagala, or Gunners Quoin, is in East Central Ceylon, nr Polonnaruwa.


The rock stands out 545m (1787ft) above the surrounding scrub. There are hundreds of caves cut out of the rock in a Buddhist hermitage that has been occupied almost continuously since the 3rd century BC. The temple at the base is the first of 15 cave temples in the complex that can be explored on the way to the dagoba at the top.


Ridi Vihara

The 'Silver Temple', is so named because it was here that silver ore was discovered in the 2nd century BC. Although not on the usual beaten track, it's well worth a visit to see its wonderful frescoes and the unusual Dutch tiles in the main cave.

Legend has it that a king established the complex as a sign of gratitude for the discovery of silver, which allowed him to complete other construction projects. A gold-plated statue of the Buddha was erected in the cave. It's still there, as is a 9m (30ft) recumbent Buddha. Check out the nearby Upper Temple too.