Anuradhapura is also the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. One of the major cities of the nation, there are many historical and cultural monuments here at Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest and continuously habituated places in Sri Lanka. Some of the must-visit sites during your visit to Anuradhapura are here for you.
The sacred Sri Maha Bodhi
One of the holiest places to be in Sri Lanka, Sri Maha Bodhi tree is bustling with pilgrims. This sacred tree is a sampling from the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya where Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. Buddhist and also Hindu people from the islands surrounding Anuradhapura visit this place every year. Almost 23 centuries old this sacred tree remained strong even when the settlement around it turned into the forest, and the city was abandoned. Today The Sacred Sri Maha Bodhi has iron frames and golden colored gates surrounding it. Prayer flags surround the whole area of the tree starting from the branches of Maha Bodhi.
The Ruwanweliseya’s carved elephants
The Ruwanweliseya is a stupa with Buddha’s relics is sacred to Buddhists all over the world. Built by Dutugemunu, inspired from a bubble floating in water Ruwanweliseya is an architectural baseline for many Gumbas across the globe. The white dome represents the heaven, and one can attain Nirvana under it. Unlike other monuments of Sri Lanka, the Stupa starts from a bit upward position as it is raised with a vast stone-flagged terrace. Bound by a massive wall with an imposing army of large and near life sculptures of elephants ear to ear one can only experience how great It looks by visiting them. The overall structure of the stupa left aside the devotional pilgrims in large numbers attending here, Is just like Buddhist mythology holding up the earth.
Thuparama, the oldest stupa
Thuparama if not the biggest is the oldest stupa of the whole island of Anuradhapura. This stupa holds many essential components that recites the ancient Buddhism in Sri Lanka. People believe that Thuparama holds a collarbone of Sakyamuni Buddha and pilgrims all over the world visit this stupa to gain peace of mind. The outer structure you see now is, however, a reconstructed model and is not similar to the ancient ‘heap of rice’ form. The new architecture is somewhat bell-shaped, and some stone pillars surround the stupa making them sound like windblown palm. Once these pillars supported the original architecture of Thuparama stupa and decoration with carvings of swans is over them.
The Jetavanarama monastery and stupa
The Jetavanarama stupa is the largest stupa of the island of Anuradhapura. Standing about 400 feet in height and 370 feet in diameter one can view the Monastery and stupa from a much greater distance. Once a centerpiece of King Mahasenas great Jetavanarama monastery, the Jetavanarama monastery and stupa hold numerous shrines with beautiful carvings all over them. Similarly,the remains of monks and monastic lifestyle is all over the place. The ‘Buddhist railing’ and finely preserved Bathing pool are amongst those which visitors find amazing. The architecture and paintings used in The Jetavanarama monastery and stupa are breathtaking too. The stone carvings of the ceilings and roofs of this stupa is a treat to your senses.
The Abhayagiri Monastery Complex
Founded in 88 BC by King Vattagamini this Abhayagiri Monastery Complex was once the homestead of over 5,000 monks. The Abhayagiri Monastery was also one of the most powerful institutions for many years. Renovated and additional designs adding the standards, This Monastery really flourished in the reign of King Mahasena(276-303 AD). The ancient ruins of this great monastery are in the Abhayagiri stupa, One of the great stupa of Anuradhapura. The magnificent architecture and artform of the monastery are pleasing, and still, restoration is taking place. One of the significant and unmissable components at the Abhayagiri Monastery is the Kuttum Pokuna. Kuttum Pokuna is a twin pond which was the sacred bathing pool for the Monks in the Abhayagiri Monastery.