The Ancient's 1st Capital City Anuradhapura


  • Reason to visit: the oldest city of Siri Lanka, one of the world cultural heritage
  • Our ratings: ★★★★★
  • Entrance fee: 2000Rs
  • Opening Hours: 07:00am-18:00pm (Jan 01-Dec31, from Monday-Friday)
  • Recommended tour for you 7 Days Classic Sri Lanka Tour


The Ancient's 1st Capital city Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's oldest city, with a history of 2,500 years. It became the capital of Sri Lanka in 380 BC and was the seat of the Sri Lankan monarchy for the next thousand years. The ruins of the ancient imperial city were discovered in the 19th century and restored to this day. In 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed Anuradhapura on the world heritage list as a cultural heritage. The most famous spot in the city is the bodhi tree, which has a history of more than 2,600 years. The ancient city of Anuradhapura developed around this bodhi tree and became a prosperous political and religious capital. In 1982, it was listed on the world cultural heritage list.

The Ancient's 1st Capital city Anuradhapura


The history of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is the ancient capital and Buddhist shrine of Sri Lanka. Located in the north-central part of Sri Lanka, 205 kilometers northeast of the capital Colombo, Anuradhapura was built in the 5th century BC and was the capital of the Sinhalese dynasty from the 3rd century BC to the 10th century AD. More than 2,000 years ago, Mahendra, son of king Ashoka of the peacock dynasty and an eminent Indian monk, crossed the sea with Buddhist sutras to create the Buddhist history of Sri Lanka.

In the third century BC, Sanhamita, the founder of Sri Lanka's Buddhist nuns, brought back to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) a branch of a FIG tree cut from the Buddhist "enlightenment" tree. The holy city of Anuradhapura was once the political and religious center of Ceylon, with a history of more than 1,300 years. In 993, the holy city was abandoned by the people after an invasion by foreign enemies. After hiding in the jungle for many years, the ruins of this ancient holy city have been rediscovered.


Main Constructions of Anuradhapura


In this ancient city, there are numerous temples and stupas built by Kings, as well as palaces and playgrounds. The most famous temple is the Lovamahapaya that is 1,100 meters in height and 96 meters in diameter. It stands on a platform with three floors. The end of the tower is a brick cube, the central circular stone column is conical in the upper part; and the temple peak has a gilt ornament, which is a model of sinhalese national architectural style. The temple's scale is far more than all the pagodas on the island. And it's the largest pagodas of this type in the Buddhist countries at that time, so it is also known as the big pagoda. The tower has been found in the 2nd century AD, and the ivory nude female statue and pottery relic box, jewelry, Buddha beads and other precious cultural relics are in the tower. The Giantorin Pagoda is another large pagoda in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, belongs to the upper part of Buddhism. The diameter of the tower is about 112 meters. The original height of the tower is 107 meters. There is a fine statue on the front of the tower. The tower gate stone column is nearly 11 meters high, and the column is engraved with decorative relief patterns.

In the ancient city, there is a bead that has more than 2,200 years of history of the big bodhi tree, which is tens of meters high. It is recorded that the daughter of the peacock King Ashoka of India, came to Sri Lanka to preach, and brought the bodhi saplings from Bodhgaya and planted the tree. It is said to be the oldest surviving bodhi tree in South Asia. The giant bodhi tree in front of the Lovamahapaya palace is the second national treasure of Sri Lanka. This tree comes from a branch of the bodhi tree where Buddha Sakyamuni sat for seven days and seven nights to form his path. This branch was planted in Anuradhapura and is still flourishing after more than two thousand years.

The Ancient's 1st Capital city Anuradhapura

Ruwanveli Seya 

Built in 100 BC, Ruwanveli Seya is 100 meters and 96 meters in diameter. It was not only far larger than all the stupas on the island, but also the largest stupa of this type in all the Buddhist countries at that time. At the entrance of the garden, there is a row of gray and black stone statues to the right and left. The pagoda contains the remains of the Buddha, which is one of the most respected stupas in Siri Lanka.


How to get to the Anuradhapura

1. Take taxi or tuk-tuk to Colombo or Gampaha railway station, then you could take the train to the Anuradhapura, it takes about 3 hours.

2. You could take coach from Colombo to Anuradhapura, it's about 5 hours driving.


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