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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Historic Religious Places in Anuradhapura – Ancient Kingdom and Sacred City
Joanna James Joanna James
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Historic Religious Places in Anuradhapura – Ancient Kingdom and Sacred City

Anuradhapura was the first Kingdom established in Sri Lanka. Set up by the islands first King Vijay, it was also the birthplace of Buddhism. Hence this city is not shy of fabulous religious relics.


The Abhayagiri Dagoba

This colossal Dagoba dates back to the 1st century. It was the main feature of the 5000 member strong Abhayagiri monastery. Matched by the Pyramids of Giza this structure at one time was one of the tallest monuments in the ancient world. Abhayagiri Dagoba at construction was 100 metres tall although time and decay has left the refurbished structure at a height of 75 metres. The first sighting of this monstrous temple is the most impressive as it emerges from amidst the lush forest it sits within.


The Sri Maha Bodhi

One of the city's most spiritual attractions the Sri Maha Bodhiya is the core of this sacred city. Brought over as a sapling cut from the Bodhgaya tree in India the Sri Maha Bodhiya is believed to be the oldest authenticated tree in history. The sacred Bo tree has been tended to and guarded by special sentinels for over 2,000 years and is one of the biggest Buddhist pilgrimage pullers across the world. Most people seeking accommodation in Anuradhapura look for lodging that is close to the many monuments of the city as most are within a few minutes of each other. Choose to visit the Sri Maha Bodhi at sunset which is the most magical time of day to witness this historical relic. Since full moon poya days drawn an influx of pilgrims to the city accommodation gets booked up fast which is why online bookings at places similar to Yoho Bed are fast and efficient.


Ruwanveliseya Dagoba

Dating back to 140 BC the striking white structure of the Ruwanveliseya is protected by panel of 344 elephants that stand shoulder to shoulder. Not all are from the original construction and have been replaced over time. After much damage caused by invading Indian soldiers the structure is only 55 metres high but still a very impressive and magnificent sight.


Jetavanarama Dagoba

Built by King Mahasen in the 3rd century the huge dome of the Jetavanaramaya is visible around the entire eastern block of Anuradhapura. Believed to have been about 120 metres high at its origin the structure is now about 70 metres. At the time of construction this was tipped to be the third tallest structure of the ancient world coming in third only to the great pyramids of Egypt.


Explore the Archaeological Museum

Anuradhapura as you can see is a city rich in history as such the huge archaeological museum is chock full of fascinating relics. On display are ancient coins, jewellery, beads and many other religious artefacts. Located in the old kachcheri building this structure is close to the Ruwanveliseya. One of the oldest museums within the Cultural Triangle the place is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

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