Giritale is a small town in central Sri Lanka. In ancient times, a large water tank (reservoir) was built for irrigation and it is still here today. Giritale tank is surrounded by forest area, with Minneria National Park and Kaudulla National Park being the closest. Both Minneria and Kaudulla are home to a vast array of wildlife including sambar deer, sloth bears, leopard and elephants. Giritale is also a good base for exploring Dambulla and Polonnaruwa.
Dambulla Rock Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves includes over 2000 sq. metres of painted walls and the ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. The caves contain over 150 images, depicting some of Buddha’s epic struggles against evil. The largest image of Buddha is a behemoth rock carving spanning a whopping 14 metres.
Polonnaruwa is an 11th century city and World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa features 12th-century stone sculptures, an old irrigation system with huge tanks, and the Gal Vihara – comprising of three enormous Buddha figures - one reclining (it’s 44 ft/13 m long), one standing and one sitting. The statues, located in a cluster along a dirt road, are revered as being amongst the most sacred monuments in Sri Lanka. There are also palace ruins, great bas-reliefs and friezes.