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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for What to See and Do in Anuradhapura – A Mystical Ancient City
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Joanna James Joanna James
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What to See and Do in Anuradhapura – A Mystical Ancient City

The ancient city of Anuradhapura was one of the royal capitals of Sri Lanka. In this captivating city, you will find an array of things to see and do that will undoubtedly capture the imagination of the history and culture lover.

1

Visit the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

The greatly venerated Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is considered to be sacred by Buddhists as it is believed to be a descendant of the very tree under which the Buddha achieved Enlightenment many centuries ago. It is believed that this tree was initially planted in the year 288 BC which gives it the distinction of being the oldest historically confirmed tree on the globe. You will see that a wall protects this sacred tree which is adorned with Buddhist flags and frequented by a steady stream of innumerable Buddhist pilgrims. It is also a noteworthy religious attraction for sightseers.

2

View the Ratna Prasada Guard Stone

Another interesting cultural attraction in Anuradhapura is the Ratna Prasada, which translates as 'Jewel Palace'. This monastic compound was occupied by an order of monks who belonged to the Mahayana Buddhist sect, in contrast to the Theravada school that is dominant in Anuradhapura as well as the nation of Sri Lanka as a whole. In times past the Ratna Prasada was a huge structure but was damaged in hostile invasions in the course of time. One of the highlights at this cultural site is a guard stone that dates to the 8th century and depicts a 'cobra king' portrayed in a traditional pose.

3

Explore Abhayagiri Vihara Monastery

Your tour of the sightseeing attractions of Anuradhapura would not be complete without visiting the Abhayagiri Vihara Monastery which is located at the northern area of the city. This expansive monastery was constructed in 88 BC by the monarch Vattagamini and in its heyday had the room to accommodate as many as 5,000 Buddhist monks. This vast complex extends over an area of more than 500 acres and contains statues of the Buddha, a stupa, an exceptional moonstone and two greatly renowned pools that were used for bathing. The moonstone found here is considered to be representative of the Sri Lankan cultural heritage.

4

Experience Isurumuniya Vihara

The remarkable Isurumuniya Vihara has the distinction of being a monastic compound that has been carved from hard rock and still retains a semblance of its former grandeur. Constructed by the monarch Devanampiyatissa this monastery at one time boasted the capacity to house as many as 500 monks. You will notice a Buddha statue in the reclining position which is located within a shrine at the complex. You will see that this statue is encircled by eye-catching paintings portraying scenes from the life of the Buddha as well as local legends. You will also notice other features such as pillars, shrines, carvings and statues at this site. When it comes to Anuradhapura hotels an accommodation choice to consider from which Isurumuniya Vihara would be within easy reach would be Ulagalla by Uga Escapes.

5

Jetavanaramaya Stupa and Monastery

his splendid stupa and monastery were constructed by the monarch Mahasen and may be considered to be one of the most impressive religious sites in Sri Lanka. In fact, at the time of its completion, this vast stupa was amongst the tallest buildings on the globe, surpassed only by the Giza pyramids in Egypt. The Jetavanaramaya stupa was constructed using bricks composed of clay and sand, and stands as evidence of the remarkable engineering skills of the ancient artisans who constructed it. This stupa is believed to contain a sacred relic, a sash worn by the Buddha, and remains a noteworthy Buddhist monument to this day.

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