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Updated by Raphael Fitzherbert on Mar 04, 2015
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Family attractions in Anuradhapura - Highlights for Families Exploring Ancient Kingdom Anuradhapura

As the heart of Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle Anuradhapura is an ancient kingdom worthy of exploration. Lined with iconic temples and royal gardens the city's top attractions are as follows.

1

Lankarama

As one of the most iconic Buddhist temples to survive from the Anuradhapura era the Lankarama temple is a revered religious institution commissioned to be built by Vattha Gamani Abhaya or King Valagamba. Containing several ruins including columns around the stupa from its heyday as a prime religious hub during the reign of King Valagamba the venue is a family attraction mainly due to the large ponds located close to its confines. Known as the Elephant Pond or Eth Pokuna in the native tongue the larger than life ponds served as a bathing pond for monks using an ancient network of water canals.

2

Sri Maha Bodhiya

Containing the Bo sapling from the iconic Bo tree that gave shelter to Lord Buddha during the attainment of enlightenment the Sri Maha Bodhiya was transported to the island nation by the daughter of then Indian monarch King Ashok. The sapling which originates from Bodhgaya in India was planted in Anuradhapura as early as 249 B.C. reported to be the oldest surviving tree of historic record in the world no visit to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura would be complete without paying homage to this sacred sapling known as Sri Maha Bodhiya.

3

Ruwanwelisaya

Tipped to be one of the most aesthetically stunning stupas in all of Anuradhapura, Ruwanwelisaya is one of Sri Lanka's most visited Buddhist temples to date. Renowned for its gold dusted summit the larger than life pure white dagoba was constructed as early as 2nd century B.C. Once considered as the third tallest brick structure in the ancient world due to its awe inspiring height of nearly 250 feet the stupa was reduced to 180 feet in height after facing destruction at the hands of multiple invading forces. Built by King Dutugemunu the newly reconstructed dagoba reaches a whopping 351 feet in height while the interiors of the stupa are believed to enshrine relics of Lord Buddha.

4

Ranmasu Uyana

As Anuradhapura's best known royal garden space Ranmasu Uyana is a breathtaking natural enclosure that is another not-t-miss highlight for families touring the ancient kingdom. Perhaps best known for its iconic bathing pond the venue boasts relics of what was once the queen's quarters. Lined with elephant motifs and carvings the bathing ponds were fed by a sophisticated irrigation network that has yet to be explained by archeologists. Surrounded by lush tropical foliage the area laden with ponds and chambers also features a crater where medicine is believed to have been ground during ancient times.

5

Lovamahapaya

As another ancient structure attributed to monarch Duttha Gamani or King Dutugemunu Lovamahapaya is an unusual structure in the temple laden landscapes of Anuradhapura and the Cultural Triangle. Believed to have been both a residential complex for monks in training this vast compound constructed in 150 B.D also served as a learning institute and university for the Buddhist clergy. Although only the ruins such as pillars and partial facades of this once thriving educational and religious institution remains today the venue remains one of the most archeologically intriguing sites in Anuradhapura. Visitors who wish to explore all of Anuradhapura's ancient treasures and its sightseeing hubs should opt for Sri Lanka holiday packages from Sunshine Travels & Tours.