In the coastal city of Galle, in Sri Lanka’s deep south, the old fortified city of Galle Fort stands protected by thick, 17th century Dutch stone –and-coral ramparts. Asia’s best preserved colonial sea fortress, Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese 400 years ago and expanded by 17thcentury Dutch settlers who used it as the Ceylonese headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. Walk around it to soak up the history embedded in the churches, mosques, temples, warehouses and hundreds of Dutch houses, many with tiled roofs and shuttered Dutch –style doors and windows still intact. Diners sit at postage-stamp cafes, and the meandering streets are filled with auto rick-shaws , old bicycles, goats, cats and street peddlers selling fish, lace or even hand-cut gems.
(Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa)
Three ancient capitals delineate Sri Lanka’s Cultural (aka Golden) Triangle. Kandy in the south, Anuradhapura in the north and Polonnaruwa in the north-east. Anuradhapura, founded around 380B.C, was ruled by 113 successive kings (and four queens) whose magnificent palaces stood alongside dozens of monasteries housing tens of thousands of Buddhist monks; the ancient monarchs presided over a culture of great creativity. Reclaimed by jungle after falling to the tamil conquerors from India in the 11th century, Anuradhapura was gradually uncovered beginning of the 19th century, and preservation work continues today.