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HDR Photography Of The Ruins Of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura Is The First Most Ancient Of Sri Lankas Kingdoms

Anuradhapura is a must-see tourist attraction because it is one of the most significant cities in Sri Lanka’s history, dating from the mid-5th century BC to the 11th century AD. Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with restored monuments, refurbished structures, well-maintained historical sites and ruins, and ongoing archaeological excavations. This ancient city is encompassed by three artificial lakes, namely the Tissa Wewa reservoir & the Basawakkulama Wewa to the west, the Nuwara Wewa reservoir to the east and two directions of Anuradhapura defined by the River Malwatu Oya that also flows through the city. The following travel guide will tell you all you need to know when visiting Anuradhapura.

01.   Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

The Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, also known as the Great Stupa, is a massive white dome built by King Dutugemunu 100 years before the Jetavanarama Stupa. The dome, which represents the Buddha’s head or heaven, is supported by an arrangement of Elephants, in accordance with a popular Buddhist belief that these mighty animals support the world. With a circumference of 290 metres and a height of nearly 91.4 metres, the luminous white shrine is the second highest stupa in Anuradhapura.

 02.Wilpattu National Park

The largest park is Wilpattu National Park, which is located on Sri Lanka’s northwest coast. The presence of “Willus,” or natural lakes with varying degrees of salinity, distinguishes this park. The park was closed for 15 years to allow the wildlife to recover to its former abundance, and it reopened in 2003. Now that it has reopened, you should go explore it because it is one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura. A squared section atop the Dome represents four honoured truths and eight rings of the virtuous eight-fold path, both of which are Buddhist tradition benchmarks.


The old village of Thanthirimale or Tantirimale, one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, is sought after by tourists, particularly Buddhists who want to explore the ancient Buddhist temples. Its proximity to the rocks makes it a popular tourist destination. Aside from the old village, Thanthirimale Stupa and Sri Maha Bodhi plant to Bo Tree et al are excellent places to visit as both a tourist and a Buddhist. So, why not try one of Anuradhapura’s most unusual places to visit?

04.Abhayagiri Vihara

The Abhayagiri Vihara Monastery, located on the north side of Anuradhapura, was built by King Vattagamini in 88 BC and had the capacity to house over 5,000 monks at one time, making it the largest for nearly 600 years. The 500-acre monastery houses Buddha figurines, a magnificent moonstone, a stupa, and the twin ponds or the Kuttam Pokuna, which have an impressive plumbing layout. The Anuradhapura residents were skilled engineers, as evidenced by the placement of their elaborate irrigation systems. The subversive conduits used to clean, fill, and then empty the water tools distinguish the twin ponds or bathing pools.

The pools could be accessed via the granite stairs, or the monks could simply sit by the edges and bathe using vessels without entering the pools. The pools aren’t exactly identical, with one measuring 6,732 square feet and the other 4,641 square feet, both surrounded by guarded walls and gardens. While visitors are not permitted to swim in the pools, the visual appeal of this location is undeniably appealing.


The moonstone, also known as Sandakada Pahana, is a unique architectural section of Sri Lanka that was developed during the last few years of the Anuradhapura Reign. It is a semi-arched etched slab of stone that is traditionally placed at the entrance of the Buddhist temple. The moonstone, which dates back to the first century, depicts a lotus flower leaf in the centre, surrounded by a row of animals, each representing a different stage of life.

While elephants represent the birth stage, bulls represent old age, lions represent disease stages, and horses represent the end. The swans represent the combined forces of good and evil, making the Moonstone a symbol of rising above materialistic temptations and achieving Moksha, as represented by the Lotus. Throughout the Polonnaruwa period, the moonstones evolved not only in terms of design but also in terms of placement, at the entrance as well as at the base of other Buddhist Temple constructions.

06.Isurumuniya Temple

The Isurumuniya Temple, a cloistral centre carved out of solid rock, housed 500 Buddhist monks or children from noble families willing to devote themselves to Buddhist teachings and the pursuit of enlightenment, living differently than Anuradhapura Society norms. There are several shrines, stupa, pillars, figurines, and Elephant carvings all over the temple complex, which is surrounded by bright murals depicting Lord Buddha’s life and the stories surrounding it from Anuradhapura’s ancient days.

Within the monastery grounds, there is also a museum with etched fragments of stones that once adorned the Isurumuniya compound, including carved paintings of the royal family from the 6th and 7th centuries BC and stone benches. Climbing the stairs, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire complex from atop the high boulder.

07.Thuparamaya Dagoba

The Thuparamaya Dagoba, one of the country’s oldest stupas that houses Lord Buddha’s collarbone relic, has seen constructions, destructions, and restorations over the centuries, and the remnants seen today are actually a restoration from 1862, with some original pillars still standing tall around the main structure. The Thuparamaya Dagoba was built in the 4th century by King Devanampiyatissa to house the collarbone artefact, and the structural ruins as such include stone carvings, temple remnants,a gorgeous moonstone, and pillar bases.


Mihintale is a Buddhist pilgrimage site and religious complex located 13 kilometres east of Anuradhapura. It is believed that King Devanampiyatissa converted to Buddhism at the request of Mahinda, the son of an Indian emperor. Mahinda’s mountain, or Mihintale, eventually became the foundation of Sinhalese culture and Buddhism. Mihintale was once just a collection of stupas, monasteries, and cave homes for monks, the remnants of which can still be seen today.

09.Gala Palama

The Gala Palama, or stone bridge, is located 3.4 kilometres from Sangamitta Mawatha and crosses the Mawathu Oya. It stands amidst ruins of stone slabs laid across the line of three stone pillars dating from the 5th to the 9th centuries. Other stone bridges in Anuradhapura include the one over Halpan Ela and the one near Mahakanadarawa Reservoir, Mihintale.

10.Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest trees, still thriving in the Mahamewna Gardens of Anuradhapura. This unique tree is said to have grown from a cutting brought here from India’s Bodh Gaya. It is thought to have been brought from the same location where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment, making it one of the most popular places to visit in Anuradhapura for pilgrims and spiritual souls. It was looked after by Sri Lanka’s ancient kings and queens, as well as many Buddhist leaders. This tree is said to have such tranquil beauty that it instils a sense of calm and peace, thriving even in the harshest of conditions.

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