Anuradhapura in the northern centre of Sri Lanka is where a sapling of the Bhodi tree of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in India, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, was planted. The Sri Maha Bodhiya is the oldest documented tree that is still living. The city also has palaces, monasteries and monuments (all in ruins) that are fascinating to visit.
King Valagamba, who reigned towards the end of the 3rd Century BC, built the 230ft high Abhayagiri stupa, while King Mahasena is credited with having built 16 irrigation tanks which created a thriving agricultural community in Anuradhapura and its environs. King Mahasena also built Sri Lanka’s tallest stupa, the Jethavanaramaya, which at 400 ft is one of the highest stupas in the world, as well as one of the oldest brick buildings of the ancient world.
Ruwanwelisaya, an ancient stupa, is revered by the Buddhist community. Thuparamaya enshrines the collarbone of the Buddha and is considered to be the first dagaba, or pagoda, built in Sri Lanka. Lovamahapaya also known as the Brazen Palace is between the Ruwanvaliseya and Sri Maha Bodhiya. Jetavanarama is the largest stupa in Sri Lanka. As well as these beautiful places there are other stupas and relics, soaring over the vast acres of paddy fields in the area.
The ancient city is full of these iconic buildings, remnants of a people from a bygone era that flourished under the rule of their kings and queens. Walking amongst these ruins is a real treat, as you learn about their ways of life. The buildings were beautifully built by craftsman and adorned by artists.
Historians believe that from around 4th century BC to the 11th century AD, Anuradhapura was the capital Sinhalese and a thriving economic hub in South Asia. Although Anuradhapura’s history is easily traced from the 4th century BC, excavations have been able to identify artefacts from the Iron Age which easily dates back to 900 BC. It is believed that from those times the community grew and flourished to become one of South Asia’s grandest kingdoms.