Anuradhapura is a sacred city which declared as WORLD HERITAGE SITE BY UNESCO in Sri Lanka, and also the capital city of North central province. Its situated 205km from Colombo.
Excavation in Anuradhapura revealed that when the legendary prince Wijaya arrived to Lanka from India. The people were engaged in paddy cultivation and rearing of horses. By the time of 6th C BC, Aryan groups from Northern India came to Lanka and settled down along the rivers. Malwathu oya is the closest to Anuradhapura city.
The kingship came stronger in the 5TH Century BC. The king Pandukabhaya is the first established king of Anuradhapura kingdom. Greek writers have mentioned about inhabitants who lived in wooden houses, traded tamed elephants, pearls, peacocks and Sappan wood. There were 126 kings ruled from 543BC to 993AD.
Buddhism, which was introduced to the country in 247BC, has influenced the people tremendously and the Sinhalese way of life, arts and craft evolved accordingly. By the 1st century AD the Anuradhapura city dwellers enjoyed water, supplied by the underground pipes. Main road was 57ft. wide. The city had a mayor; one sixth of income had to be given to the king as taxes. Irrigated water was supplied for a fee. There was a system of tollgates in to the city. At the sea ports customs duties were charged. Ambassador was sent to the roman courts and hoards of roman coins have been found.
The city was divided in to inner city, outer city and religious sites. It was adorned with three main pleasure gardens-Nandana, Mahamegha and Jothi vana. Maha vihara which was the principle monastery, managed the important shrines- Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruwanmalisaya, Loha Prasada, Thuparamaya (the first temple of Srilanka)etc.
The kingdom of Anuradhapura shifted to Polonnaruwa in 11th century AD. Cholas the south Indian invaders invaded the city and destroyed. They are the one who shifted the capital into Polonnaruwa.
Presently the city itself attracts devotees and tourists around the world. According to archeological department 3000-4000 archeological ruin sites can be seen here.
Some of the Sites in Anuradhapura
Sri Maha Bodhi
The World oldest human planted tree ever with the recorded history (2264 years -2018). “BODHI” tree is botanically known as “ficus relegiosa”. A Sapling of the BODHI tree under which prince Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened in India, was brought to Sri Lanka by Nun Sangamitta and planted in Mahamewna garden Anuradhapura. Today this is second most important shrine in Srilanka after the
temple of tooth relic.
According to the tradition the second important site in Anuradhapura, after Sri Maha Bodhi is Ruwanmalisaya. A bowl of Buddas relics were enshrined in the Stupa. It was built by king DUTUGEMUNU and his brother king SADDATHISSA in 2nd century BC. Stones were crushed and stamped down by elephants. By the 2nd Century BC it was the largest Stupa with 370ft circumference and 180ft in height. Several kings restored and improved the Stupa. The last was done in 1893 and the chest gem which was brought from Myanmar placed in 1940. However the circumference has not been changed.
“Thupa Aramaya” the first ever Stupa built in Sri Lanka in the 3rd Century BC, by the king Devanampiya Tissa in 4th Century BC. It also the first ever Buddhist Monastery, Mahavamsa gives detailed information on Thuparamaya, the right collarbone of Buddha is enshrined here. Stupa was of the Paddy heap shape and later changed into a Bell shape.
Mihintale is the place where Buddhism was introduced officially to Srilanka on a Poson (June) Full Moon Poya day in the year of 247BC. The famous Emperor Asoka in India sent his son Arahat Mahinda to invite the king Devanampiyatissa. The meeting place was Mihintale. The king embraced Buddhism followed by royal family members and started spread all over Sri Lanka accordingly. And the king declared Mihintale as a sanctuary which is considered to be the oldest Sanctuary and continued up to date in the world. According to the Chinese monk faxian who lived and studied for 2 years in Srilanka in 4th AD, Mihintale was a monastery called “Chethiya Pabbatha” where 2000 monks lived and was under the management of Abayagiri.
There are many interesting places to be seen.(from the foot hill)
- Ancient Hospital
- Great flight of steps
- Kantaka cheithya
- Lion Pond
- Slab inscriptions
- Sela cheithya
- Ambasthala chithya
- Aradana Gala
- Kaludiya Pokuna
- Ataseta Lena
Abayagiri Monastery Compex
Abhayagiri vihara was built by King Walagamba in 1st Century AD. By 5th Century AD was developed to a state of university of not only to study Buddhism but also teachings of other schools and philosophies. Faxien the Chinese monk in 5th Century AD, who lived and studied here for more than 2 years gives a full description of the Abhayagiriya. According to him there were 5000 monks lived in the monastery and he has witnessed a beautiful Sacred Tooth Relic Procession.
Place to be witnessed In Abhayagiri Monastery
- Abhayagiri Dagoba
- Samadhi Buddha Statue
- Twin Ponds