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Updated by Joanna James on Sep 13, 2018
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Things to do in Anuradhapura – Take a trip to the cultural hub of Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura is known for being a region that has the most number of religious, historical, and cultural sites. Read about the most popular sites in the list below and decide on where to go.

1

Royal Pleasure Gardens

Any travel and lifestyle magazine in Sri Lanka, such as the likes of Cinnamon Magazine or otherwise will definitely list this place as a must visit when in Anuradhapura. Locally known as the Park of Goldfish, this garden spans over 14 hectares and is about 2000 years old now. There are two beautifully designed ponds within the park, which flow around the boulders gracefully. You can also take a look at the elephant carvings on these boulders.

2

Abhayagiri Dagoba

Historians trace the existence of this dagoba to the 1st century BC. Scaling about 75 metres in height, this is one of the most important structures of ancient Sri Lanka. The original dagoba was about 100 metres tall, but after the many years of reconstruction and natural damage, it is now shorter. You have to walk through a forest to reach the Abhayagiri Dagoba, and the first view you get of the place as the trees part ways is breathtaking if not surreal. The Abhayagiri Dagoba is also one of the most photographed places in Anuradhapura and certainly deems a visit if you love walking around places that whisper stories of years gone by.

3

Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba

This white coloured dagoba is surrounded by 344 statues of elephant guards who stand closely. Most of the parts at this dagoba are recent additions, except the few ancient relics inside. Around the dagoba, you can find ruins of ponds, pools, and pillars and columns that once stood tall. A lovely place to be at, this dagoba will take you back in time. The white dagoba is a striking sight from the many vantage points and looks amazing when photographed at those angles too.

4

Archaeological Museum

This is an old British colonial building that has gotten many renovations and facelifts over the years. From carvings to artwork and everyday items that were used in the past, you can find a unique collection of historic Anuradhapura here. The displays also include a renovated chamber of relics which was discovered during an archaeological dig at Mihintale, which is close to the Abhayagiri Dagoba and Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba. There's a lot to see within this museum.

5

Moonstone

Located close to the Abhayagiri Dagoba, the Moonstone is a 9th-century ruin that was once a residential building for the monks. The name is such because this structure has some of the most intricately carved moonstones in Sri Lanka. If you visit the place, a fun thing to do would be to try and count how many types of animals you can see in these carvings. The Moonstone is surrounded by lush greens and has a lot of butterflies fluttering about. Overall a calming place to be in, this is a nice place for you to catch your breath after your tour of the bigger ruins.