Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's first capital, a potent symbol of Sinhalese power, and the most extensive and important of Sri Lanka's ancient cities. For over 1000 years, Sinhalse kings, and occasional South Indian interlopers, ruled from the Palace of Anuradhapura and its size and the length of its history, and equally the length of time since its downfall, make it more difficult to comprehend than younger, shorter-lived Polonnaruwa. Several centuries before the Jesus Christ, while the Greek empire was at its zenith, many other regions were emerging from the stone age; Anurdhapura was already and advanced civilization. Anuradhapura is 250 km north of Colombo.Places to Visit
Sri Maha Bodhi : The scared bodhi tree (Sri Maha Bodhi) is central to Anuradhapura in both a spiritual and physical sense. The huge tree has grown from a cutting brought from Bodhgay in India by the Princess Sangamitta, sister of teachings to Sri Lanka, so it has a connection to the very basis of the Sinhalse religion. This scared tree servies as a reminder of the force that inspired the creation of all the great buildings at Anuradhapura and s within walking distance of many of the most interesting monuments. The whole area around the Sri Maha Bodhi, the Brazen Palace and Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba was once probalbly part os the Maha Vihara (Great Temple).
Brazen Palace : So called because it once had a bronze roof, the ruins of the Brazen Palace stand close to bodhi tree. The remains of 1600 columns are all that is left of this huge palace, said to have had storeys and accommodation fro 1000 monks and attendants. It was originally built by Dutugemunu more than 2000 years ago, but thourgh the ages was rebuilt many times, each time a little les grandiosely. the current stand of pillars(now fenced off) is all that remains from the last rebuild - that of Parakramabahu around the 12th century.
Thuparama Dagoba : In a beautiful woodland setting north of the Ruvanelisaya Dagoba, the Thuparama Dagoba is the oldest dagoba in Annuradhpura, if not Sri Lanka. It was constructed by Devanampiya tissa and is said to contain the right collarbone of the Buddha. Originally in the classical 'heap of paddy rice' shape, it was restored in 1840 in a more conventional bell shape.The dagoba stands only 19m high and at some point in its life was converted into vatadage. The circles of pillars of diminishing height around the dagoba would have supported the conical roof.
Mahasen's palace : This ruined palace northwest of the Abhayagiri is notable for having the finest carved moonstone in Sri Lanka. Photographers will be disappointed that the railing around it makes it almost impossible to achieve an unshadowed picture. This is a peaceful wooded area full of butterflies, and makes a good places to stop and coool off during a tour of the ruins.
Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba : Popularly regarded as the greatest, and certainly the most popular among the Buddhists, of the stupas at Anuradhapura, Ruwanveli Seya, is the pride of the Great Emperor Dutugamunu. Raised in the 2nd century B.C.this dagoba is supposed to have the perfect water bubble shape. You will also be impressed by the magnificent Elephant Wall which carries the terrace and the dagoba. Among the many statues in the courtyard there is one that is of a larger-than-life man. This is considered to be the king himself watching his work from a respectable distance.
The Ratna Prasada : There's not much left of this old monastery, but if you want to see some more excellent guard stones, check out this place.
Aukana Buddha : The 13 meter high statue carved out of solid granite, goes back to the 5th century, to the reign of King Dathusena. (about 50 km south of Anuradhapura).On a rainy day, it is said, that one can see droplets of water falling off the tip of the statue's nose hitting the ground exactly between the toes.- a testament to the architectural accuracy of the sculptor. The brick enclosure around and above was built recently to protect it from weather.
Isurumuniya Vihara : This rock temple, dating fro the region of Devanampiya Tissa (3rd century BC), has some very fine carvings. One or two of these (including one of elephants playfully slpashing water) remain in their original place on the rock face beside a square pool fed from the Tissa Wewa, but most of them have been moved into the small museum within the temple. Best known of the sculpture in the 'lovers' which dates from around the 5th century AD and is of the Indian Gupta School.