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The plains of northern Sri Lanka have been known for millennia as Rajarata, “The King’s Land”, although nowadays the traditional name has largely lapsed and the region is generally referred to as the Cultural Triangle. The origins of the name date back to the 1970s and the government’s attempt to restore and promote the region’s great ruined monuments for the modern tourist industry – perhaps inspired by the “golden triangles” of Thailand and India. The three points of this imaginary triangle lie at the great Sinhalese capitals of Kandy in the south, Anuradhapura in the north and Polonnaruwa in the east, although in fact, this tourist-oriented invention presents a rather warped sense of the region’s past, given that the history of Kandy is quite different and separate – both chronologically and geographically – from that of the earlier capitals.

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