Anuradhapura is a cultural and historical delight. It was the first capital of the island established in the 4th century BC. It was the royal capital for 119 successive Sinhalese Kings and lasted for about a thousand five hundred years. Many historic monuments and buildings still remain in the acres of this sacred land. You’ll be able to discover the archaeological, historical and UNESCO world heritage sites during your stay in Anuradhapura.
The area is bursting with things to see and do, and below we take you through 7 of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura.
- Explore Mihintale:
Mihintale is revered as the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Its various shrines connected by a total of some 1,840 steps that ultimately lead to the summit – steep enough to require deep breaths and a meditative pace. They were built in the reign of Bhathika Abhaya (22 BC–AD 7), although a later paved road provides a short cut up to the first level.
It is very significant to the Buddhists all over the world however, regardless of your beliefs, it is unforgettable: a sequence of beautiful shrines, stupas and caves strung out across wooded hills, usually busy with crowds of devout, white-robed pilgrims.
Pro tip: be aware of the monkeys everywhere. It helps to not carry around food that is easily accessible.
- Revel in the shade of the sacred tree
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a famous place in Anuradhapura, due to the sacred tree growing out of the middle temple. It’s a very serene place and it’s free to enter which makes it one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura if you’re sticking to a budget. If you’re interested in seeing how locals pray and generally experience the tranquility of a simple temple, then this is the place for you.
- Admire the ancient Isurumuniya
This is described as a charming rock temple. It dates back to 307–267 BC and its surrounded by a beautiful pond (perfect for taking pictures by, totally instaworthy). Part of the temple holds a room that has beautiful stone carvings, and one of the most famous is the “lovers” carving.
These carvings in stone are truly fascinating because they are so old. You can also climb around the back of the rock to the summit and to see a bell-shaped stupa. It offers nice views, and you will see lots of locals praying. As you enter, it suggests you should only wear white in the area out of respect. However, this applies to those who are praying and there for religious reasons.
- Revel at the allure of the Moonstone Abhayagiri Vihara
This dagoba dates back to the 1st-century B.C. It was originally over 100 m high and was once regarded as one of the greatest structures in the ancient world. The only thing that could match it at the time was the pyramids of Giza. After various reconstructions, it now soars 75 m above the forest floor. It’s one of the best places to see in Anuradhapura for its visually stunning beauty and you can find your first glance of this via a gap in the forest that surrounds it.
- Visit the Ruwanwelisaya Stupa
An absolute wondrous stupa built by King Dutugemunu c. 140 B.C. It’s considered one of the most sacred areas for Buddhists all over the world. It’s the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka, and was restored in the 20th century and repainted a glorious white. It truly is regarded as a marvel for its architectural qualities.
- Capture the sunset at Tissa Wewa
Wewa translates to lake but Tissa Wewa is actually an artificial reservoir. The Tissa Wewa is a nice place to catch sunset because you can see the two glorious white stupas in the distance. (find the perfect stop for a picture and the sunset makes for a super Facebook cover picture)
- Explore serenity by the Samadhi Buddha
This is a statue of Lord Buddha which is situated in meditation pose and as old as the 4th century. So, if you like history, then this is one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura.
Due to its significant age, and the fact that it is carved from granite and is 8ft in height, it’s regarded as one of the best Buddha statues in all of Sri Lanka and it’s thought to have been constructed at the cardinals directions.
If you are interested in historical sites and appreciate the work completed in the past or have an eye for arts then Anuradhapura is the place to be.
Heading to Anuradhapura? Hit us up on 0117344444 or check out www.yohobed.com and we’ll find the ideal place to suit your requirements and your budget!