Anuradhapura is a major city of North Central province of Sri Lanka. It lies 205 Kms north to the Capitol Colombo. According to the chronicles Anuradhapura was founded in 377 BC by King Pandukabhaya who is third king of Vijaya dynasty. It was the third capital of Kingdom of Rajarata and abandoned after year 1073 by invasions forced to transfer capital to Polonnaruwa. The city and buildings were slowly hidden under the thick jungle grew over it. Monasteries, Stupas, Palaces were lost and hidden for centuries until the British explorers rediscover in the 19th century. City is identified and declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Today Anuradhapura is renowned to its Buddhist ruins and Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi. A sacred Bo tree with a written history. Foreign and local visitors are coming to Anuradhapura for discover the rich ancient history of the country.
According to Mahavansa, a Great Chronicle, the King Kutakannatissa built the first wall around the city with a moat in front to fortify the city of Anuradhapura. King Vasabga was enhance the fortification by raising the wall further and added gate houses to the structure. During the era of Anuradhapura kingdom, Royal family strongly supported Buddhism. Anuradhapura was a capital of 113 successive kings who supported and oversaw a blooming of great arts, buildings magnificent palaces, sculptures, gardens, gigantic reservoirs, and vast stupas built to protect the most sacred relics of Buddhism.
The three main stupas in Anuradhapura are amongst the biggest architectural creations ever attempted in the ancient world. Jetavanaramaya is holding a cup as the 4th highest building of the ancient world while Ruwanwelisaya dagoba has being 7th highest ancient building. Surpassed in size only by the pyramids at Giza. The Buddhist faith inspired kings of ancient Lanka to allow freedom of worship and to build the world’s first hospitals for both humans and animals. Perhaps the most impressive achievement was in irrigation, with large reservoirs constructed to preserve the monsoon rains, and use to cultivate rice paddy.
There are eight sacred places in Anuradhapura where the Buddha had visited during his three visits to the country. It called Atamasthana which are known as Jayasirimaha Bodhi, Ruwanwelisaya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiriya, Jetavanaramaya, Mirisawetiya, and Lankarama.
Jaya Siri Maha Bodhiya is an oldest living tree of the world with a documented history. It is believed to be a sapling from the historical Bo tree which Buddha became enlightened. Which was brought to Sri Lanka by Arahath Sangamitta from Bodhgaya India. It was planted in 288 BC. Surrounding walls were built by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe to protect the Bodhi from wild elephants. And Ven Pallegama Rewatha Thero was planted pariwara bodhis to camouflage the original Bodhi and protect it from natural disasters like heavy storms.
Missaka Pabbatha or Mihinthale is a 1,000 feet high rock mountain which has cultural and religious significance. According to Deepavamsa and Mahavamsa, Arahath Mahinda thero came to Sri Lanka on a Poson full moon poya day (June month) and met King Devanampiyatissa at the Mihinthale Mountain. People are revered Mihintale as this was a cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. King Devanampiyatissa constructed a vihara and 68 caves for monks to reside in.
There are so many historic places to visit in Anuradhapura. Such as Isurumuniya stone carvings, large Buddha statue at Jethavanaramaya, and Samadhi Buddha statue at Mahamewnawa park. Which is very smooth and amazing sculpture carved by a rock. Buddha was depicted in the position of Dhyana Mudra. Means earth touching mudra.
Attractions Places & Activities for Tourists Anuradhapura
- Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
- Abhayagiri vihāra
- Kuttam Pokuna
- Ranmasu Uyana
- Samadhi Statue
- Sandakada pahana