The hidden gems of Anuradhapura: Exploring off-the-beaten-path sites

Anuradhapura is a city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, approximately 205 kilometers north of the country’s capital, Colombo. It was the capital city of Sri Lanka for over a millennium and is considered to be one of the most important ancient cities in the country. Anuradhapura is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts alike.


Anuradhapura was founded in the 4th century BCE by King Pandukabhaya and was the first capital of Sri Lanka. The city quickly became a center for Buddhism and was the site of the construction of many Buddhist temples, stupas, and monasteries. Anuradhapura was also a center of trade and commerce and was visited by traders from India, China, and other parts of the world.

During its peak, Anuradhapura was one of the largest and most advanced cities in the world, with a population of over 100,000 people. However, the city’s decline began in the 10th century CE, when it was invaded by the Chola dynasty from South India. Anuradhapura was abandoned by the ruling king, and the capital was moved to Polonnaruwa.

Sights to See

Today, Anuradhapura is an important archaeological site and attracts tourists from all over the world. The city is home to many ancient temples, stupas, and other structures that provide a glimpse into the city’s rich history.

Sri Maha Bodhi

This is a sacred tree believed to be grown from a cutting of the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.


A huge ancient stupa built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC, which is considered one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka.


This is considered to be the first dagoba (Buddhist stupa) built in Sri Lanka.


Also known as the Brazen Palace, it was built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC and had 1,600 pillars.

Abhayagiri Dagoba

This is a large ancient stupa built in the 1st century BC and was once one of the most important monasteries in Sri Lanka.


This is one of the largest ancient stupas in the world, built by King Mahasena in the 3rd century AD.

Isurumuniya Temple

A temple located near the Tissa Wewa reservoir, known for its rock carvings of animals and humans.

Kuttam Pokuna

Also known as the twin ponds, this is a unique example of ancient Sri Lankan water management and was used for bathing by monks.

Mirisaveti Stupa

Another ancient stupa built by King Dutugemunu, known for its intricate stone carvings.


A stupa built by King Valagamba in the 1st century BC, which is believed to house relics of Lord of Buddha.

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Journeyscapes Travels is a premier tour operator in Sri Lanka that offers exceptional travel experiences to Anuradhapura and other destinations across the island.
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Visiting Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is a popular tourist destination and is easily accessible by car or train from Colombo. The city is also home to many hotels and guesthouses, making it a comfortable place to stay while exploring the ancient ruins. When visiting Anuradhapura, it is important to dress appropriately and respect the sacred nature of the sites. Visitors should also be prepared for hot and humid weather, as Anuradhapura is located in a tropical climate. In conclusion, Anuradhapura is an important city in the history of Sri Lanka and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and Buddhist culture. The city's rich history, ancient temples, and stupas make it a fascinating place to explore and learn about Sri Lanka's past.

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