An incredible city of the past, Anuradhapura brings to life scared historic sites, structures and tales of yore. Boasting numerous age-old Buddhist temples, archaeological evidence of the existence of mighty kingdoms dating from as far back as and even before the 5th Century BC, its sprawling walkways yield views of ancient ruins and magnificent stupas rising over countless neem and bodhi trees, which are home to langur monkeys. Some of Anuradhapura’s voluminous, revered sites include the Sri Maha Bodhi, known to have grown from a cutting taken off the bodhi tree under which Buddha was enlightened; Ruwanweliseya, a giant stupa built by King Dutugemunu; Thuparamaya, believed to be the first dagoba built after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka; Samadhi Statue, an eight feet structure of one of Buddha’s meditation postures, and a similar standing Buddha known as Aukana; Abhayagiriya dagoba built by King Valagamba; Isurumuniya, a ruin of a once stone carving near Tisawewa; Jethawanaramaya, once a great temple civilisation as evidenced by its many ruins… and many more. The best way to get to Anuradhapura is on the Colombo-Kurunegala-Anuradhapura road or book a ride on the Colombo-Anuradhapura train.
If you’re here for the history, you’re in for one heck of a time. Sri Lanka is positively dropping in the stuff, from the cultural triangle covering Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Kandy to the numerous UNESCO world heritage sites dotted around the country. Heck, even if you’re not here for the history, you’ll find it difficult to avoid being swept up in the majesty of it all; those ancient civilisations produced some pretty incredible stuff, after all. Check out our guide to ancient sites and historical places to visit in Sri Lanka and get ready to learn about traditional ways of life and no shortage of tremendous art.