A teardrop-shaped island cast adrift in the Indian Ocean, Sri lanka is filled with cultural and natural treasures. Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British have all left their marks here, making for a delightful mix of ancient cities, monuments and grand colonial architecture.
At the same time, palm-fringed beaches are never far away and lush mountainous greenery beckons further inland. It’s clear why Marco Polo proclaimed Sri Lanka as one of the best islands in the world.
Sri Lanka is one of those places where history seems to fade into the realm of legend. Sri Lanka’s second highest mountain, Adam’s Peak is said to be the very place where Adam set foot on earth, having been banished from heaven. Meanwhile buddhists claim it is Lord Buddha’s footprint itself on Sri Pada which was placed in his final visit to the island. And isn’t Adam’s Bridge (the chain of islands linking Sri Lanka to India) the very series of stepping stones laid by the monkey god Hanuman in his mission to rescue Sita from the clutches of Rawana, the demon King of Lanka, in the epic Ramayana?.
The first entries in the Mahavamsa or Great History date back to 543BC, which coincides with the arrival of Prince Vijaya in Sri Lanka. Some 300 years later, commenced the early Anuradhapura Period, with King Devanampiya Tissa as the first ruler.
The late Anuradhapura Period, which began in the year 459, saw the tyrannical reign of King Kasyapa, and the construction of Sigiriya. The Polonnaruwa period, witnessed the transfer of the capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa and, in 1505, the Portuguese landed, and occupied the island’s coastal regions
History of Highlights
Sri Lanka is a country with a unique and a proud historical record of a great civilization, a culture of achievements, spanning over a period of several centu-ries before and after the birth of Christ, which by comparison cannot be second to any contemporary civilization that existed in the world.
For the purpose of this publication, the History of Sri Lanka, spanning a period of over twenty five centuries, is divided into the following periods