Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority

Cultural Tourism

Biggest Culture

Buddhism has been the biggest influence in moulding the variegated cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. In addition, much of the culture of South India has also made inroads into the social fabric of the island. The Europeans, particularly the Dutch and the British who colonised the island , added their own cultural hues, thus, creating a motley blend which is embellished by the architecture, sculpture, paintings, dances, theatre, cuisines etc.

Art, Architecture and Crafts

Sigiriya Art

The classical architecture, sculpture and paintings of the island bear the Buddhist trademark. Buddhist Stupas are scattered all over the countryside, and there are several exquisite Buddhist sculptures, especially at Aukana and Buduruvagala.
Anuradhapura[Wiki] and Polonnaruwa[Wiki] that showcases the archaeological legacy of Sri Lanka.Today, Kandy[Wiki] is the cultural hub of the country. Dutch Forts, churches, British residences, clubs and courthouses are reminiscient of the colonial era.The city of Galle[Wiki] is home to the finest colonial monuments of the country. Wood carving, weaving, pottery and metal work bear the touch of rare artistic finesse. Sri Lanka is renowned for its gems. While the best of Sri Lankan masks come from Ambalangoda, Ratnapura[Wiki] is the honey pot of Sri Lanka's execusit gem trade.

Dances and Drama

Dances and Drama

Sinhalese dancing bears resemblance to the Indian dance but it takes recourse to acrobatics, nimbleness and symbolism to unfold its narratives. While Kandy[Wiki] is famous for 'up-country dancing', Colombo[Wiki] and Ambalangoda are the nerve centres of ritualistic exorcism of 'devil dancing'. Folk theatre is a rich blend of dance, masked drama, drumming and exorcism rituals.



Rice and curry are the main cuisines at meal times which is supplemented by side delicacies which include dishes of vegetables, meat and fish. Sri Lankans also feast upon Indian dishes such as vegetarian thali and biriyani. A unique Sri Lankan snack is hoppers which is served with an egg or honey and yoghurt. It is similar to pan cake. Delicious sea food is available in the coastal areas. In addition, a slew of tropical fruits are there in the Sri Lankan menu. Tea is the favourite drink in the island. It is customary to offer tea to a visitor and for the sake of courtesy it is not generally turned down.


Esala Perehara

Esala Perehara[Wiki], the world famous pageant of elephants and light takes place every year in August. The Tooth Relic of the Buddha (widely believed to be an actual tooth of the Lord Buddha) is carried in a sacred casket around the city during this ritual. Only a specially trained tusker is entrusted with the task of carrying the Tooth Relic. It is held in the cultural city of Kandy and celebrations occur for this event for two weeks.