CINNAMONLODGE, HABARANACinnamon Lodge is set in four hectares oflandscaped gardens. Its nearby wooded parklandand lake hold a vast array of indigenous flora andfauna. The 137 rooms, in two-storey chalets,adhere to traditional architectural styles withcolumns and verandas, cooling terracotta floorsand clay tiles on the roof. There are plenty ofrecreation and entertainment options, withboating, tennis, badminton, birdwatching as well as occasional live music in the evenings, and this is a good base from which to explore the Cultural Triangle.JETWINGVILUYANA, SIGIRIYAOffering luxury and comfort within easy access of all the sites of the Cultural Triangle, this is SriLanka's first stilted resort. 25 detached 'dwellings'are set within nine hectares of abandoned paddyfields through which water flows. The propertyoverlooks Sigiriya Rock and each chalet is situatedwithin a lush tropical environment, whether paddyfield, marsh, lake or forest. The resort has amodern Thai/Balinese feel, with the emphasis onopen spaces and nature. The paddy and marshchalets are on stilts and are split-level and someeven have plunge pools. All rooms are wellappointed and have lovely modern bathrooms.Private balconies allow for dining and sunbathing.SigiriyaKnown by some as Lion's Rock and one of SriLanka's most recognisable landmarks, Sigiriya Rocklooms 200 metres above the plains, an idealposition for a fortress. However, when theusurper King Kasyapa built his base here in the5th century, he didn't merely create a fortress buta fabulous palace on top of the rock, completewith pleasure gardens below. If you climb to thetop, you will be rewarded by one thing that hasremained unchanged over the centuries; themagnificent views over miles of jungle and rollinghills. Today, only ruins of the palace remain, butfeatures such as the massive Lion's Paws andfrescoes of beautiful damsels still give visitors aglimpse of its former splendour.88Sigiriya Rock FortressPool at the Cinnamon Lodge, HabaranaFresco at Sigiriya Rock FortressForest dwelling, Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya
Minneriya National ParkSet around a 3rd century reservoir, Minneriya is a haven for wild elephant and a jeep safari herewill bring you close to the large herds as theycome to the water to drink. Birdlife in the park isexcellent, with the Ceylon fish owl and sea eagleamongst the species you may see. This park'slocation allows it to be easily combined with visitsto Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya and despite being apopular attraction, it remains largely unspoiled and is one of the best wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka. (For more information on wildlife seepage 92-93)Dambulla Cave TemplesA site of great spiritual importance, the earliestcave temples at Dambulla are thought to dateback to the 1st century BC. Successive kingsadded to them over the years to form thepresent complex of five separate temples. Today,they contain numerous statues and images ofBuddha including a colossal reclining Buddha inthe largest cave. As well as being an historicmonument, the temples are also a pilgrimage site.The experience is even more atmospheric as youmingle with devotees placing symbolic offerings inthe laps of the Buddhas, and with the scent ofincense hanging in the air.AMAYALAKE, DAMBULLAThis large hotel complex is set in spaciousgrounds sloping down to Kandalama Lake, withdramatic hills forming a scenic backdrop.Accommodation is in 106 air-conditioned chaletsand the hotel is centred around a large, airyrestaurant and bar area and an impressively sizedswimming pool. Two Ayurvedic centres offer awide range of treatments, and organic vegetarianmeals following ayurvedic principles are a tastyoption. From Amaya Lake it is possible to exploreall the sites of the Cultural Triangle. www.audleytravel.com/srilanka ?01993 838 335 ?Sri Lanka89Wild elephant at Minneriya National ParkAmaya Lake, DambullaMan-made lake at Minneriya SanctuaryBeach at TrincomaleeBuddhist statues inside the Dambulla Cave TempleBuddha's feet, Dambulla Cave TempleTrincomalee & the East CoastHaving long been off limits due to Sri Lanka's civilwar, the end of the conflict opened up Sri Lanka'seastern cities and beaches to visitors. The city isone of the main cultural centres of the Tamilcommunity with one of their most importanttemples, Tiru Koneswaram, built on a rockoffering spectacular views of Trincomalee'simpressive natural harbour. Tourism is very muchin its infancy in this part of Sri Lanka, but theregion offers some of the island's best beachesand excellent weather when Sri Lanka's southernbeaches are affected by the southwest monsoon.Chaaya Blu, a recently opened resort just north ofTrincomalee, is modern in design with a bright,almost boutique feel to it. New hotels and resortsare being built all along the east coast, so do talkto our specialists for the latest information and todiscuss your plans.