Anuradhapura is where the birth of the Sinhala civilisation took place. The first settler was a follower of Prince Vijaya called Anuradha. Anuradhapura was made the foremost capital of Sri Lanka about 380 BCE by King Pandukabhaya. It remained a kingdom for one thousand and five hundred years and served as the capital city for 119 consecutive Singhalese Kings. It was in 1000 A.D. that this great Kingdom saw its conclusion and thereafter the capital shifted to Polonnaruwa.
Anuradhapura is home to many of the country’s earliest monuments. Since most of the constructions are of immense Buddhist value, this great city is also a renowned Buddhist pilgrimage site.
One of Sri Lanka’s world heritage sites, Anuradhapura is home to the country’s tallest Dagoba. There are also remains of important ancient temples, monasteries, statues, ceremonial baths and much more. The temple of the holy Bo tree or Sri Maha Bodhi is one of the most vital places in Anuradhapura and for the entire faith of Buddhism. The sacred Bo tree is one of the branches of the original Bo tree in Bodhi Gaya, India where Lord Buddha obtained enlightenment at the foot of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi over 2500 years ago.
Some of the major constructions and developments took place during the periods of King Pandukabhaya, King Devanampiya Tissa, King Duttha Gamini, King Vattagamani Abhaya and King Mahasena.
The Anuradhapura period of the country is a testament to the architectural intelligence of the ancient Sinhalese civilisation. For instance, the Aukana Buddha, which is 13 metres in height, is carved completely out of rock. On rainy days droplets of water falling off the tip of the nose from the statue falls right between the toes of the Aukana Buddha.
Other main and striking constructions include Thuparama Temple and its guard stone, Isurumuniya temple, Ruwanveli Seya, Abhayagiri Stupa and Monastery, Jethawana Monastery and Ritigala.
The monuments that can be seen at present in Anuradhapura symbolize a rich period of heritage of almost fifteen centuries. Each King who ruled from this great city added their piece of art and expertise to make this ancient Kingdom a place that is visited even today by travellers and archaeologists from all across the world.
World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka