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Anuradhapura Ancient City Tour Excursion, Sri Lanka

Region: ancient-cities | Location: Anuradhapura
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura Ancient City Tour
 Other regions: capital-colombo | east-coast | hill-country | south-coast | west-coast
Anuradhapura ancient city in Sri Lanka is a magical place. Anuradhapura features some of the most ancient archaeological treasures in Sri Lanka. This vast heritage site is the most extensive of the Sri Lankan ancient cities and it is an impressive remainder of a thriving ancient civilisation.

Once one of the grandest monastic cities the world has ever seen, it was established in the 4th century BC, rising to prominence with the arrival of Buddhism, a pivotal event that saw Anuradhapura transformed into a major centre of Buddhism pilgrimage and learning. The great king of Anuradhapura oversaw a golden age in Sri Lanka’s island history, building colossal dagobas (stupa) that rivalled the pyramids of Egypt in scale. It was the national capital for over 1300 years up to the 10th Century AD when repeated innovations by Indians and a struggle for royal succession resulted in the capital being withdrawn to Polonnaruwa.

Today the monuments of Anuradhapura's heyday survive for you to visit surrounded by the solemn umbrage of trees and an ancient parkland. You will be overwhelmed at the scale of ancient Anuradhapura - it is essential viewing!

Mahavihara

At the centre of the city is the Mahavihara, the oldest of the city’s monasteries. It was founded by King Devanampiya Tissa (247 - 207 BC). In its heydays this monastery housed over 3000 monks from the writings found from a Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian, who journeyed to India and Sri Lanka in the early 5th century.

Sacred Bo Tree (Sri Maha Bodhi)

Thousands of worshippers every year around world come to worship at Sri Maha Bodhi - the sacred bo tree, grown from the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment in North India. It is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world.
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Dagobas of Anuradhapura

The Thuparam dagoba, erected in the 3rd century BC, was the first dagoba to be built in Sri Lanka and enshrines the Buddha’s right collarbone. Standing before the red-brick Jetavana dagoba - once the third tallest structure in the world – is an awesome site. The Abhayagiri dagoba is still covered in earth and vegetation, while the more famous Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba fully restored and it is the great white dagoba (Buddhist monument composed of a solid hemisphere containing relics of the Buddha). It is guarded by a wall of elephants standing shoulder to shoulder. The land around the dagoba is a pleasant park dotted with the remains of pools and ponds and columns and pillars.

Brazen Palace

The ruins of the Brazen Palace (so called because it once had a bronze roof) stand close to the scared bo tree. 1600 columns is all that remains of this huge palace which is said to have had nine storeys and accommodation for 1000 monks and attendants. It must have been a magnificent building when it was originally built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace was built in the 12th century AD. Close to the palace is the Mahapali refectory with its immense trough (nearly 3m by 2m) in which lay followers would fill with rice for the monks. Also at the Royal Palace site is Dalada Maligawa, a tooth relic temple which may have first housed Budda's tooth which came to Sri Lanka in 313 AD

Archaeological Museum

Anuradhapura's Archaeological Museum also houses a ticket office for the ancient city. It's worth visiting for the museum's gorgeous old building, let alone the exhibits inside. It has a restored relic chamber, as found during the excavation of the Kantaka Chetiya Dagoba at nearby Mihintale, and a large-scale model of Thuparama Dagoba's vatadage as it might have been if a wooden roof (for which there is no physical or epigraphic evidence) had existed.

Among the exhibits are carved squatting plates from Anuradhapura's Western Monasteries whose monks had forsaken the luxurious monasteries of their brothers and to show their contempt of the luxury loving monks squat style toilet seats were carved with their brother's monasteries represented on the bottom.

Many more

Anuradhapura contains many sites of ruins, far too to mention here. If there are any in particular you wish to visit that are not mentioned here please be sure to inform us when booking.

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