The ancient city of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its well-preserved historical ruins dating back to the CENTURIES (4th century BC – 11th century AD) during which it remained the capital of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura was also the center of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries and is known today as one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world.
Located in the North central province of the island, Anuradhapura is about 205kms north of Colombo. The city continuously draws millions of tourists to the sites of ancient ruins – which are the most expressive and unmatchable sites in all of South Asia. A magnificent collection of architectural and archaeological marvels include massive dagobas, crumbling temples, giant brick towers, and archaic pools that were constructed during the several thousand years that the Kingdom of Anuradhapura ruled the nation. At present, these sites that you will visit on your Anuradhapura day tour are used mostly as temples and holy places hence should be given respect at all times.
Historical prominence of Anuradhapura
• 4th century BC was when Anuradhapura became the capital of ancient Lanka – during the reign of King Pandukhabaya.
• Buddhism was introduced in the 3rd century BC – during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa.
• King Tissa built the country’s first Stupa to house the relic of Budhha’s right collarbone.
• He also planted the sacred Bo Sapling brought by Princess Sangamitta, Indian Emperor Asoka’s daughter. Today, this tree is considered as the oldest living tree in the world.
• King Tissa built irrigation tanks and a man-made lake (still in use today) to develop inland agriculture.
• Towards the end of the 3rd century, King Mahasena built 16 irrigation tanks and the tallest stupa: Jethavanaramaya.
• In the 2nd century BC, King Dutugemunu successfully recaptured the city whenever it fell to invading Indian armies.
• King Dutugemunu’s reign saw a massive construction boost including monuments such as Ruwanweliseya Stupa, Mirisavetiya Temple, and the Brazen Temple.