Anuradhapura, is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).
The right branch of the Bodhi tree in Boddh Gaya in India under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC by princess Sanghamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka. It was planted in Anuradhapura and is venerated to this day by the Buddhists from many countries of the world. This is the oldest recorded tree in the world whose exact age is known.
Thuparama is the first dagoba to be built in Anuradhapura during the reign of King Devanmpiyatissa (3rd century BC) enshrining the right collarbone of the Buddha, His alms bowl and other relics.
Ruvanveli Dagoba built by King Dutugemunu who ruled the country in the 2nd century BC is a huge dagoba measuring 103 metres in height with a circumference of 287 metres.
Jetavana dagoba was built in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasena. It is an enormous brick structure standing in the centre of a large monastic complex measuring 3.2 hectares in extent and is rated as the largest and tallest brick built monument in the world. The structure has been declared a World Heritage Site.
This Dagoba was built by King Valagam Bahu (1st century B.C.) and it is the Sri Lanka’s second highest dagoba. It was at the Abhayagiri complex that the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha brought to Sri Lanka was first housed.
It is a picturesque rock temple built in the 3rd century BC. The beautiful stone sculptures seen at the temple are considered the most beautiful works of art in Anuradhapura.
Thirteen kilometers from Anuradhapura is the sacred mountain of Mihintale, the site of introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the year 247 BC. World’s first fauna and flora sanctuary was established at Mihintale in the 3rd century BC. Today the peak of Mihintale, approached by a grand stairway of 1840 granite steps, has many temples, lodgings for monks and several splendid statues of the Buddha. Each June on the full moon there is a pilgrimage commemorating the date when Mahinda first preached the Buddhist doctrine in Sri Lanka and many thousands of pilgrims flock from all over Sri Lanka to meditate on the holy peak.
Awkana-located 51 km southeast of Anuradhapura-is famous for 12 metres tall granite statue of Buddha, hewn out of solid rock in the standing posture on a lotus pedestal. The statue was built during the reign of King Dhatusena in the 5th century AD.
Kuttam Pokuna or the Twin Ponds-the two breathtakingly beautiful bathing ponds aligned lengthwise-is a manifestation of the artistic achievements in the field of hydraulic engineering in ancient Sri Lanka. They date back to around 8-10th century AD.
This 4th Century AD statue of the Buddha in meditative pose is a world famous Buddha statue and acknowledged as a masterpiece.