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Anuradhapura is a significant ancient city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It was the capital of the country for approximately 1,300 years, from the 4th century BCE until the 11th century CE. Anuradhapura was established around a sacred fig tree known as the Sri Maha Bodhi, which is said to have grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.

The city flourished as a center of Buddhism, culture, and trade during its heyday. It was known for its magnificent palaces, monasteries, stupas, and reservoirs, some of which still stand today as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Notable landmarks include the Ruwanwelisaya, Jetavanaramaya, and Abhayagiriya stupas, as well as the ancient irrigation system such as the Tissa Wewa and Nuwara Wewa reservoirs.

Anuradhapura declined in importance as a political and economic center after being repeatedly invaded and eventually abandoned in the 11th century. However, it remains a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists and a fascinating destination for tourists interested in Sri Lanka’s rich history and cultural heritage.

If you are looking for featured experiences in Anuradhapura.

Visit the Sacred City: Explore the ancient ruins of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, the oldest documented tree in the world, and the ruins of ancient palaces, monasteries, and stupas.

Ruwanwelisaya: This massive stupa, built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BCE, is one of the most revered Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. It’s an impressive structure and an important pilgrimage site.

Jetavanaramaya: Another significant stupa, Jetavanaramaya is one of the tallest structures of ancient times. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Anuradhapura.

Abhayagiri Monastery: Explore the ruins of this ancient monastery complex, which was once a major center of Buddhist learning and housed thousands of monks.

Mihintale: Just a short drive from Anuradhapura, Mihintale is considered the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Climb the 1,840 steps to the summit for breathtaking views and explore the ancient monastic complex.

Anuradhapura Museum: Learn more about the history and archaeology of Anuradhapura at the museum, which houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits dating back to ancient times.

Bicycle Tour: Rent a bicycle and explore the ancient city at your own pace. Cycling is a popular way to see the sights and cover more ground than on foot.

Evening Pooja Ceremony: Experience the evening pooja (worship) ceremony at one of the ancient temples. It’s a serene and spiritual experience, especially at twilight when the city takes on a magical atmosphere.

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