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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 5 places to visit in Anuradhapura -Pinnacles of a sacred city
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 places to visit in Anuradhapura -Pinnacles of a sacred city

Anuradhapura is the most sacred city of ancient Sri Lanka, as well as its oldest kingdom. Relics of glorious days of yore are still visible to be marvelled at by the visitors even today.


Sri Maha Bodhi

When you are visiting Anuradhapura, the most crowd would undoubtedly be found at Sri Maha Bodhiya. It is the sacred Bo Tree of the Buddhists, held in highest esteem by those of the faith. According to history, Sri Maha Bodhiya is an offshoot of the Bo Tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Thus, it is a highly sacred place of worship among the Buddhists, who have special rituals that revolve around the tree. It is also one of the oldest trees in the world and has seen the passing of over 20 centuries. Male devotees are allowed to go to the "uda maluwa", the upper part of the structure, which is the closest a lay person is allowed to come to the tree.



Ruwanweliseya is at its most beautiful when seen from above. If you have the opportunity to fly with Cinnamon Air or any other air taxi in Sri Lanka to Anuradhapura, it is the first thing you would notice, a gigantic white dome that rises from the brown of its surrounding. The stupa was built by King Dutugemunu, the most celebrated King in Sri Lankan history. The stupa is supposedly inspired by seeing a bubble floating on water, and is believed to represent to rising upward from the materialism that is the fundamental idea of Buddhism. The stupa is constructed on a terrace that is held by stone carvings of elephants that are almost life size. It definitely is a key architectural design you must visit.



Thuparama is another stupa that is the oldest stupa in the country. Although rather small in size, especially when compared to the giant stupas of Anuradhapura, it is extremely important to the Buddhists as according to scripture it enshrines the right collarbone of Lord Buddha. Unfortunately, the stupa you would see today is not the original structure, but a poor restoration that has not adhered to the original shape of the stupa. However, there are stone pillars surrounding the stupa that has held a roof once. These pillars and their intricate designs are well worth exploring.



Jethanvanaramaya is the largest stupa in the city and was once a monastery where foreign monks studied the religion. It was built by King Mahasen and is one of the richest archaeological excavation sites in ancient Sri Lanka. There is a lot to observe and learn in terms of archaeology here, especially with regard to the "vahalkadas". There are four of those in total each located at one of the cardinal points. Each vahalkada is decorated differently, creating an absolute masterpiece – there is even an ancient version of a swimming pool found in the monastery complex!



Abhayagiriya is another monastery located to the northern end of the city. It is believed that about 5,000 monks were residents of the monastery at its most powerful, which was under King Mahasen. The monastery complex has beautiful bathing pools, sculptures, and remains of lavish palaces. One of the key attractions of Abhayagiriya is the "kuttam pokuna", the twin pond, which uses an advanced hydraulic system and is carved with the most intricate designs.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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