It is the first ancient capital of Sri Lanka with roots that go back to the 4th century BC. As the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, it is one of the most revered cities in the land and Buddhism’s monument capital. The impressive collection of Anuradhapura temples, stupas, statues, and stoneworks has given the city UNESCO World Heritage Site status. There are also ruins of monasteries and palaces thousands of years old. It is not just an archaeological city but the heart of Sri Lanka’s civilization with a sophisticated network of reservoirs and waterways built for irrigation. Anuradhapura belongs to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka and contains the most sacred tree in the world.
At a glance
The Sacred Bodhi Tree
It is the oldest surviving human-planted tree in the world. It was a sapling from the original tree in India, under which Buddha said to have attained enlightenment.
Out of all dagobas in Anuradhapura, this is the most iconic. It was built by King Dutugamunu in 140 BC and is said to contain the biggest collection of Buddha’s relics.
It was from the summit of this rock, Arahat Mahinda preached the first words of Buddhism to King Devanampiyatissa, who converted to Buddhism then and there.
It was the third tallest monument in the world. Built by King Mahasen, this massive dome consisted of 90 million bricks. Ruins of a sprawling monastery surround it.
This 3rd century BC dagoba is the oldest in Sri Lanka and was built by King Devanampiyatissa to enshrine the right collarbone of Buddha. Its most unique feature is the Vatadage.
- The Moonstone at Abhayagiri is the most elaborate in Sri Lanka.
- Archaeological Museum showcases artifacts from the Anuradhapura period.
- Ratna Prasada Guard Stone is the most impressive guard stone of the era.
- Kuttam Pokuma, the twin stone bathing ponds are both, stunning and ingenious.
- The ancient Samadhi Statue depicts Buddha in meditation position emanating tranquility.
Where to Shop in Anuradhapura
You can buy Buddha statues, souvenir items, corn on the cob, fruit, and vegetables from small vendors near the sites. Pharmacies, stores, and banks are available in the town.
Where to Eat in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura does not offer an extensive selection of fine dining restaurants, except within hotels. However, Sanctuary at Tissawewa, LuLu’s Feeding Point, The Lakeside, and Banana Cafe are great restaurants.
Forest Rock Garden
This one of a kind hotel in the historic city of Anuradhapura is set in a sprawling 50 acre property of natural wilderness, rock boulders, waterways, ...
This 150 year old mansion estate was once the home of a local chieftan, and sprawls across 58 acres of lush greenery consisting paddy fields, tropical...