Places to go in Sri Lanka – Anuradhapura


First capital of ancient Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura is an ancient city with well preserved ruins of ancient civilization. Anuradhapura was established in 4th century B.C by King Pandukabhaya and it was the first capital of the country. Anuradhapura is the sacred city, with Jayasri maha Bodhi (sacred tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment). Anuradhapura is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO owing to its historical and religious importance to the world. Anuradhapura had been a large city and it was around 10km² in extent. It laid out with well organized road network, palaces, religious buildings, schools, parks, cemeteries for low and high casts etc. there had been a well planned water supply system with Tanks, reservoirs, and well laid canal system, Tissawewa, Abhayawewa, Basawakkulam are few huge reservoirs that were used for the water management in the city. These tanks were built in Pre-Christian era and still being used today.

During 1300 years, as it was the capital of the country, it came under many South Indian invasions. Tamils, Pandyan and Cholas invaded the city destroying the most of the religious buildings, palaces and other important properties in the city. The city lost its function as the capital in 10th century A.D in result of the South Indian invasions. Most of the monuments were restored after the regaining the power from the invaders. But city was abandoned by Sri Lankan monarchy after the invasion by Chola Rajaraja in 993 making the Polonnaruwa 2nd capital, owing to its militarily and politically strategic location in the region. When Anuradhapura was abandoned in 993 city encroached by the jungle hiding it for many centuries.

Anuradhapura was predominantly a Buddhist city and considered to being the cradle of the Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Buddhism was introduced in 250 B.C during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, converting the King to Buddhism recorded being the first Buddhist mission in the country. Second Buddhist mission also took place 3rd Century B.C, in which nun Sangamitta brought a sampling of Bo-tree from Bodghaya to the country. Sri Maha Bodhi was received with great respect by King Devanampiyatissa and planted in the royal pleasure garden. Buddhism considered as the state religion since the advent of Buddhism in the country and majority of the people in the country believes in Buddhism. Anuradhapura is partaking with all these significant events of country’s history.

Arrival of Buddhism had made a huge impact on the civilization. There had been a revival in all angels of the life. Ayurveda medicine, architecture, language, arts and craft, irrigation system and literature all these aspects were enriched and enhanced with the incoming knowledge from India. Mirisaweti Dagoba, Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, Brazen Palace, Baddasima pasada, Shiwa Devala and Jetawanarama Dagoba are few of the huge Buddhist monuments resulted in after the advent of Buddhism.

Today Anuradhapura is the main city in the north central province and most important historical city in the island. Anuradhapura draws tens of thousands of tourists every year owing to its significance as one of the oldest cities in the world.