Anuradhapura was the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. And it is famous for the well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. Inscribed in 1982, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was the centre of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. Anuradhapura lies 205 Km north of Colombo (3 hours drive) in the North Central Province, on the banks of historic Malwathu Oya (river). It is considered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
Anuradhapura is believed to be the capital of the Sinhalese from 4th century BC to the beginning of 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centres of political power and urban life in South Asia. It is believed that King Pandukabhaya made it his capital in the 4th century BC, and that he laid out the town and its suburbs according to a well - organized plan. But according to archaeological data the history of Anuradhapura dates back as far as 10th century BC. With the introduction of Buddhism in 3rd century BC, the city gained more prominence and the great building era began.
The city was enhanced further by subsequent kings as a ritual centre and an administrative centre. Massive stupas, masterpieces and parks were built. The surviving ruins of the ancient city shows three classes of buildings; stupas, monastic buildings and pokunas (tanks used for bathing, drinking water systems). The most fascinating part of the era are the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. The technologies that had been used, have impressed even the modern engineering world. Ocean like ma made tanks are a common sight in and out of the city, and they are still cultivating the lands and lives of people.
Sri Maha Bodhiya -
The Bodhi Tree originated from the Sacred Fig Tree located in India, under which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightment.
A massive stupa built in 140 BC by King Dutugamunu who is considered to be one of the best rulers of the ancient Sri Lanka. This is considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world.
Thuparamaya is considered to be the first stupa built in Sri Lanka. After the introduction of Buddhism to the country, King Devanampiyatissa built it enshrining the collarbone of Lord Buddha.
Built by King Dutugamunu, it is described as an edifice of nine stories. It is also known as Brazen Palace, because the roof was covered with bronze tiles.
One of the most extensive ruins in the world this stupa has been built in a major monastery site of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
Located in the ruins of Jethavana Manastery, it is one of the tallest structures in the ancient world. A part of a sash or belt tied by Lord Buddha is believed to be the relic that is enshrined here.
Built by King Dutugamunu this stupa enshrines the relics of Lord Buddha in a sceptre.
Lankarama is a stupa built by King Valagamba.
Isurumuniya is well known for the four carvings of the Isurumuniya Lovers, Elephant Pond and the Royal Family.
Magul Uyana -
Magul Uyana is an ancient garden of the Anuradhapura kingdom. There are remains of various ponds, small cells, seats made of stone steps, and taps of aesthetic sense. According to the popular Sri Lankan legend it is believed that Prince Saliya met Asokamala in this garden. This is not a place of worship.
Vessagiri is a cave monastery complex located about half a mile south of Isurumuniya, in a mountainous region.
Rathna Prasadaya -
Rathna Prasadaya was a skyscraper built by King Kanittha Tissa who ruled Ceylon from 167 to 186 AD. Mihindu II and Mihindu IV renovated the building during the 8th and 10th centuries. The bhikkhus of the Tapovana belonging to the Pansakulika sect resided here.
Queen's Palace -
Famous for the largest and the most beautiful moonstones.
Samadhi Statue -
One of the most famous statues in the world, the Samadhi Statue is a statue situated at Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation associated with his first Enlightenment, also called Nirvana.
Kuttam Pokuna -
As implied by its name Kuttam Pokuna is a pair of bathing tanks or pools. These are considered one of the significant achievements in the field of hydrological engineering and outstanding architectural and artistic creations of the ancient Sinhalese.