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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for Places to Visit in Anuradhapura – Ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka
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Places to Visit in Anuradhapura – Ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka

The ancient city of Anuradhapura is steeped in history, from being the first kingdom to a city where Buddhism was born in Sri Lanka. The place is a revered pilgrimage site home to many vintage relics.

1

The Revered Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

Anuradhapura is the countries sacred city; mainly due to the presence of this historical tree. The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is chronicled to be the southern branch of the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya in Bodhi Gaya India; the very tree which offered shelter to Lord Buddha as he attained enlightenment. The branch now a lustrous tree in Anuradhapura is one of the world's oldest recorded trees that dates back to over 2200 years. It sits in the equally illustrious Maha Meghavana Royal Gardens. This tree is held in veneration by Buddhist across the world and was planted by the country's first Buddhist King, Devanampiyatissa. The sapling was brought over from India by Princess and monk Sangamitta Thera as confirmation to the country converting to Buddhism.

2

Abhayagiri Monastery and Dagaba

Testament to Sri Lanka's mighty rulership under Sinhala kings, the huge Abhayagiri Dagaba stands tall and proud over the city of Anuradhapura. This building dates back to the 1st century BC and was commissioned during the time of King Vattagamini Abhaya. The monastery thrived during Sri Lanka's time of peace and was home to over 5,000 monks who chose the spot for meditation. This is the largest of Anuradhapura's monasteries while the Dagaba built by King Gajabahu between 114-136 BC stands at a height of around 100 metres. Adding to the place's allure are attractions of an ancient Buddha statue, a stone pond, a cave temple and beautiful moonstones carved out of rock. Just 28kms from here is Ulagalla Resort located within a 150-year-old mansion that was once home to Royal nobility.

3

Ruwanweliseya

Built by King Dutugamunu – 140 BC; the Ruwanweliseya is considered as one of the world's tallest stupas. It stands at a height of 338 feet and measures at a circumference of 950 feet. The sacred building holds within its core, relics of the Buddha and is one of the 8 most venerated sites amongst sacred Anuradhapura attractions.

4

Kuttam Pokuna

Kuttam Pokuna refers to twin ponds; the word kuttam in Sinhala meaning pair. Ancient architectural marvels these bathing pools are a testament to the country's rich wealth of knowledge on hydrological engineering. A must visit site in Anuradhapura, the sides and bottom of the pools consist of cut granite while the elaborate carvings and stylings are symbols of the might the ancient royals held. Water to the pool is supplied via underwater ducts which pass through a filter system showcasing the genius in design.

5

Isurumuniya Lovers

Located at the Isurumuniya Temple the rock carving of the two lovers is known locally as the Isurumuniya Pem Yuwal-la. The stone relic is quite famous; for the pairs intimate pose; they are believed to be Prince Saliya son of King Dutugamunu and the low caste Asokamala for whom the prince gave up the throne. The carvings represent 6th century Gupta stylings and show the woman sitting on the man's lap.

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