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Anuradhapura

Located in the north Central Province 206 km from Colombo The sacred city of Anuradhapura is a Magical Place featuring some of the most ancient archeological treasures in Sri Lanka. The vast heritage site is an impressive reminder of the ancient civilization.

.Anuradhapura the first capital of Sri Lanka was once one of the grandest monastic cities the world has ever seen. It was established in the 4th century BC, rising to prominence with the arrival of Buddhism, a pivotal event that saw the city transform in to a major centre of Buddhist pilgrimage and learning. The great Kings of Anuradhapura oversaw a golden age in the islands history, building colossal dagobas that rivaled the pyramids of Egypt in scale. Anuradhapura was an example par excellence of a hydraulic civilization. The construction of many reservoirs, canals, and irrigation channels during the period exhibit an amazing knowledge of trigonometry and the design of reservoirs a thorough grasp of hydraulic principles. The ornamental scale of the large reservoirs is compelling evidence of a thriving economy and state structure which had resources from an agricultural surplus and profits from trade to invest in these projects as well as on religious and public buildings designed on a lavish scale
The fame of the city spread afar and features in writing from ancient China, Greece and Rome. Anuradhapura came under much invasions from South India enduring for many centuries and eventually fell to decline in the 10th century AD.

Sites to See in Anuradhapura

  • The Sacred Sri Maha Bodh
  • Loha Prasada – The Brazen Palace
  • The Mahathupa – Ruwanweli Dagaba
  • The Thuparama Dagaba
  • The Jetavana Dagaba
  • The Abhayagiri Monastery & Dagaba
  • The Samadhi Buddha
  • The Kuttam Pokuna – The Twin Ponds
  • The Mirisavati Dagaba
  • The Mihintale
  • Aukana Buddha

Sri Maha Bodhi

The sacred Bhodi Tree (Ficus Religious) the world’s oldest authenticated tree is the most venerated of shrines in Anuradhapura. Grown from a branch of the very Bhodi Tree in Buddhagaya, India, beneath which the Buddha found Enlightenment, brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd c.B.C. by Their Sangamitta, sister of Arahat Mahinda. Throughout the centuries the Sri Maha Bodhi has been venerated by Buddhists in Sri Lanka and all over the world. Today it is looked upon as a national treasure by botanists, specially appointed by the government. The gold gilded “Ran Veta”: (fence) is a recent offering made through public contributions.

Many scholars regard the “Moonstones”, a semi circular slab of stone richly decorated in low relief and placed at the foot of a stairway leading to the major shrine as the finest product of the Sinhalese artiste.

Lovamahapaya- Loha Prasada – The Brazen Palace

The Loha Prasada, or the Brazen Palace was first founded by King Tissa in the 3rd century B. C. as a chapter house for the Bodhi-tree monks. But it was made in to a palace by King Duthagamini for the monks of the Mahavihara to live in. Duthagamini built a nine storied building with a thousand rooms, which had a roof of copper tiles. From which the building takes its name Tragically, this splendid building was of wood and it was burnt down in a fire, probably caused by coconut oil lamp only fifteen years after it was built. Saddhatissa, Duthagamini’s brother rebuilt the palace to a height of seven stories. The brazen palace has been destroyed several times and rebuilt. The present ground floor of 1,600 pillars (40×40) bears witness to its former grandeur. These columns are the remains of the restoration work of Parakramabahu the Great.

The Ruwanveliseya Dagoba

Built by King Dutugemunu in 2c.BC.. is by far the most beautiful its white dome shinning like a pearl in the dry, arid landscape. The Thuparama Dagoba is the most ancient of Sri Lanka’s dagobas and was built by King Dvanampiyatissa to enshrine the Buddha’s collar bone. Its present “bell” shape dates to reconstruction in the 1840’s.

Thuparamaya

Vatadage is a significant advancement of Lanka’s architecture. Vatadage is a building constructed covering a number of small stupa. It can be considered that the first Vatadage or Thupaghara was built around Thuparama, one of the first stupas in Sri Lanka. The stone pillars around the stupa can be clearly reckoned as those that had once supported the roof. Here is seen the Thuparama and the concentric rings of stone pillars surrounding it, Built in 2ND century AD by king Vasaba. It has since been renovated periodically.

Abayagiri and Jethavana Stupas

The Abayagiri Stupa (meaning mountain of valour) build by he warrior King Valagam Bahu in the 1c.B.C. and Jethavana Stupa build by King Mahasen in the 3c.A.D. were taller than the third pyramid of Giza and were the wonders of the world at the time, with the Jethavana probably being the largest stupa in the whole Buddhist world.

The Samadhi Buddha

This 4c.A.D. statue of the Buddha in meditation pose is acknowledged world wide as a masterpieceof sculpture. The Brazen Palace (Lovamahapaya) – a roof of copper bestowed the name given to this building which burned down only 15 years after its construction in the 3c.B.c. The 1,600 pillars, in 40 rows, that now years after its construction in the 3c.B.c. The 1,600 pillars, in 40 rows, that now mark the site are ascribed to King Parakumbahu (12c.) the original building of nine graded storey is said to have been 100 cubits square at ground level and 100 cubits high.

Kuttam Pokuna ( Twin Ponds in Anuradhapura)

These twine ponds are among the handsomest works of the Anuradhapura period. and are a magnificent example of landscape architecture built on a grand scale. The ponds are in fact not twins at all, pond (b) being longer by 40 feet than pond (a). The stone molding of the baths and the flights of steps leading to the water are graceful and austere, but above all natural. Apart from their beauty, the twin ponds are very functional. Water which is fed through an inlet is cleaned and purified several times over; before the cool water gushes out into the pond through a lions-head spout.
Besides this spout is a Naga stone, perhaps the best in Sri Lanka. The water eventually drains away from pond (b).

Mirisavetiya Dagoba

The Mirisavetiya Dagoba, was built on the spot where King Dutugemunu buried his spear containing a relic of the Buddha, after celebrating his victory in battle on the shores of the Tissa Wawe.

It is believed that King Dutugamunu had a sceptre that contained a scared relic of the Buddha. While going to the tank “Tissawewa”, for a water festival, the King has planted the scepter in a certain place. When he came back, it is said that his men could not remove the sceptre from the place.

Witnessing the miracle, the King decided to build a dagaba enclosing the scepter. Thus was the creation of Mirisawetiya.

The significance of the sceptre is the fact that this was the king’s “victory sceptre” for his battles with Elara, and by building the Dagaba around it shows the tremendous dedication that the King had for Buddhism and his spirituality.

Mirisawetiya was the first dagaba built by the great king Dutugamunu 2100 years Before.
Mirisawetiya was built by the great King Dutugemunu who reigned during the time (161-137 BC) and united Sri Lanka under a single flag.

Mihintale

The “Cradle of Buddhism”, 11 K.M. east of Anuradhapura. Its history dates back to 247 c.B.C. when King Devanampiyatissa met Arhath Mahinda the great Buddhist Missionary who preached the Buddhist doctrine to the King. Mihintale, “the mountain of Mahinda” was identified as a great monastic city. The rock is dotted with shrines and rock dwellings.

Today it is venerated daily, especially on Poson full moon poya day commemorating this historic event. A majestic flight of 1840 granite steps, 5 meters wide lead you to the summit, with its splendid views of the surrounding countryside. An atmosphere of serenity and peace I lingers heightened by the chants of the devotees and the stark, rocky surroundings. The King having embraced Buddhism declared the forest where he met the Sage, a sanctuary, the first historically documented sanctuary in the world.

Aukana Buddha

Situated 51 k.m. to the southeast of Anuradhapura, is the most magnificent undamaged Buddha image in the island. 13m high it stands beneath a canopy now, built for protection. However the statue as it stood amidst the jungle surroundings had been a stunning sight. Incidentally, the Wilpattu National Park could be visited either on your way to Anuradhapura or from Anuradhapura as a half day of full day tour.

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