Art and Architecture

Sri Lanka, gifted with a heritage steeped in arts and architecture, takes you on explorations seeing timeless architectural ruins of old kingdoms, from Galle fort to the colonial buildings of Colombo, extraordinary work of Geoffrey Bawa, the Kandyan arts and dance scenes, engineering marvel of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, exquisite murals and paintings of Sinhalese art on ancient walls at Sigiriya and caves at Dambulla.

Discover Sri Lankan art and architecture through its array of ancient, contemporary and tropical modern forms reflected through many an era till today. The colonial influences of the Portuguese, Dutch and British can be seen in the beautiful old charming buildings, homes and churches in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Many forts dotted around the coasts give testimony to the presence of colonialism. The arts are ingrained in the ancient culture of Sri Lanka since it was the centre of trade from the West and East. India and China have conveyed much of their culture and tradition thereby contributing to the vibrancy of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage. Traditional Sri Lankan arts and architecture were inspired after the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century in which it encouraged many artistic styles stemming from beliefs of religion through paintings, carvings, architecture and more. Indian influence brought about Hindu traditional architecture which is seen through many colourful and vibrant kovils all over the island. Art and crafts were profoundly inspirited by Buddhism through sculpturing of statues of Buddha out of limestone and granite. Sri Lanka’s paintings were influenced by themes of different life scenes of Buddha which can be seen in Buddhist monasteries and shrines. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple and be awed by the beautiful colourful paintings all over the interiors.

Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s renowned architect, has inspired a driving force behind tropical modern art which was a wealth of contribution to Sri Lanka’s revival of post-colonial culture and the rebirth of interests in native crafts and goods. Journey through works of Geoffrey Bawa architecture in exploring Lunuganga – his country residence, his house in Colombo and his office which has been transformed into a trendy cafe known as The Gallery Cafe, the new parliament of Colombo and many hotels built with his designs such as the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle or Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla. Geoffrey’s brother Bevis Bawa had also built his own landscaped garden and country home known as Brief Gardens which was once a rubber plantation and transformed into a garden full of fountains, sculptures and ponds, a place of breathtaking beauty.

Contemporary art of Sri Lanka can be seen through a number of art galleries in Colombo such as the National Art gallery and Saskia Fernando Gallery. Colombo street art is immensely popular for its art space next to Nelum Pokuna, also bordering Viharamahadevi park which has a long street of beautiful paintings reflecting all colours, texture and styles arranged along the pavement. Its the hub for local street art where local artists display their own works.

Nelum Pokuna theatre, a performing arts centre, designed and built by the Chinese has really made its mark by placing Sri Lanka as one of the top venues in the region. Its state of the art infrastructure and concept has certainly met international standards for it recently held international shows as of “Sound of Music” and “Mama Mia.”

Kandyan art and dance is derived from a deep rooted history and heritage of the Kandyan Kingdom. It plays an important role in the culture of Sri Lanka and is one of the most revered features of the Kandy Perahera. Kandyan dancing is reflected in different acrobatic forms that depict different animals and birds. It composes of the dancer, drummer and music that give life from afar. Kandyan dancing flourished from spreading beyond Kandy and lives on as an extraordinary feature of Sri Lanka’s culture thereby gaining recognition as the National dance of Sri Lanka.
Watch the Kandy Cultural show and get captivated through connecting your imaginative mind to their tribal roots and feel its pulse and rhythm. Get a chance to see one of Asia’s best cultural pageants as that of the Kandy Perahera.

Puppet art was very popular worldwide but it has been inherited in Sri Lanka through former generations of diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnicity, which makes Sri Lanka blessed with major skills in orchestrating the puppet strings depicting various dances and folklore. The Puppet art museum is located in Dehiwela on the outskirts of Colombo. This museum exhibits the history of puppet art, explanation of popular stories and also displays of traditional masks.

Masks are essential decorative wear in traditional dancing in Sri Lanka. Since ancient times, masks were used in traditional rites and dramas to ward off any illnesses and were believed to cure any psychological issues. They are made from Kaduru which is light wood and carved into many characters. You can visit the mask making workshops in Ambalangoda near Galle.
Other traditional crafts include handloom weaving, batik making, mat weaving, beeralu lace making and much more.
Therefore Sri Lanka is a place offering you a multitude of cultures that have been combined creating a cultural heritage like no other.
Epic Sri Lanka Holidays has special tours for you to explore all art and architecture in Sri Lanka.