Anuradhapura, the first ancient capital of Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura -The sacred city of Anuradhapura is the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. The archeological site is made up of monastic complexes dedicated to different sects of Buddhism including Theravada, Mahavihara, and Mahayana. It also has four monumental stupas or Dagobas (Pagoda’s) namely Jetavanaramaya, Ruyanvelisaya, Mirisavatiya and Abhayagiri, all done by ancient Kings of Singhalese Kingdoms.
Visitors can also see the ruins of fortified walls and a system of moats that protected the secular part of the city known as the Citadel. The outskirts of Anuradhapura were mainly used for agriculture. A remarkably advanced water hydraulic system allowed for year-round irrigation.
One of the main attractions here is the Sri Maha Bodhi, which is said to be the right-wing branch (southern branch) of the historical Maha Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in India, under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BC, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, and brought from India by Princess Sangamitta. She was the daughter of the Great Indian Emperor Asoka, a Hindu who had later converted to Buddhism.
Mahbodhi Tree is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date.
Other attractions here include Smadhi Buddha Statue - The 2m tall Buddha statue, popularly known as the “Samadhi Buddha” (deep meditation), a masterpiece of Sinhalese sculpture of Buddha in meditative posture carved in stone during the 4th century.
The Twin Ponds, also known as Kuttam Pokuna , a monument of great beauty and superior engineering,
Isurumuniya Temple built by King Devanampiyatissa, partly into a cave with a lovely pool in the front and with a boulder forming the rear wall, is a treasure-trove of exquisitely carved stone sculptures.
Also at the temple is celebrated sculpture on a slab of granite called ‘Isurumuniya lovers’. This has now been shifted to the Isurumuni Archaeological Museum. The lovers are identified as King Dutugamunu’s son Saliya and his non-royal consort Asokamala,