Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s longest lasting capital was one of the greatest monastic cities of the ancient world flourishing with Buddhist culture and crowning architectural achievements. Being the heart of Sri Lankan civilization for over a millennium, Anuradhapura was the royal capital of 113 successive kings who administered the producing of magnificent palaces, elaborate sculptures, opulent gardens and enormous stupas built to protect the most sacred relics of Buddhism. The three main stupas Ruwanweliseya, Jetavanaramaya and Abhayagiri stupas are amongst the biggest architectural creations of the ancient world, surpassed in size only by the pyramids of Giza. According to tradition, this sacred city was founded in 377 BC by King Pandukhabaya. It was abandoned in 1073 when the capital was transferred to Polonnaruwa. The abandonment and the nature’s hand took a toll on the city, as the jungle enveloped most of the magnificent palaces, stupas and monasteries. Once found again, many a restoration work has been done to preserve the ancient architecture and heritage. Now, this great city stands as a testament to the height of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture and heritage through its architectural marvels and impressive irrigation system. 

Highlights

Sri Maha Bodiya (The Sacred Bo-Tree)

A branch taken from the sacred tree in Bodhi Gaya under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was planted in this site in 249 BC. The tree is over 2265 years old and is considered the oldest living tree in the world.

Ruwanweli Maha Seya

Ruwanweli Maha Seya was built by the great king Dutugamunu who reigned from 137BC to 119BC from Anuradhapura. Next to Sri Maha Bodhi, this is the most venerated site in Anuradhapura.

Thuparamaya

This is the first stupa to be built in the country after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Built in the time of king Devamnampiyatissa (250BC – 210BC) to enshrine the right collar-bone of Lord Buddha.

Abhayagiri Dagaba

The massive Abayagiri Stupa stands at 74.98 meters to the tip of the damaged spire. It is the second largest stupa in the island today.

Lankarama

The Lankaramaya  stupa was built on the 1st century BC by King Walagamba. This stupa too has had a magnificent vatadage surrounding it. There are indications of 88 stone pillars have supported the roof of the vatadage. Today only few remains out of these.

Aukana Buddha Statue

The astounding factor about this 39 foot tall and 10 feet width statue, is that it’s carved out of one single rock, and is the tallest Buddha statue in existence today.

Samadhi Buddha Statue

The Samadhi Statue situated at Mahamevnāwa Park. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the meditation associated with his first Enlightenment, also called Nirvana.

Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds)

Kuttam Pokuna is considered an engineering marvel of ancient Sri Lanka. These ponds belong to the Abayagiri aramic complex. The origins of these ponds are unknown but it is thought to have been built during the reign of King Aggabodhi I (575-608)