The Sacred Bo sapling was brought to Sri Lanka by Sangamitta Theree along with her brother Mahinda by the order of their father The Great Asoka of India. Then it was in the sacred city of Anuradhapura Buddhism that was established by converting The King Devanampiyatissa. Since then Buddhism was practiced as the state religion of the island.
This sacred city was the capital for flourishing 1300 years and was abandoned after an invasion in 993 B.C. by Raja Raja Chola’s army.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura is one of the major archeological and religious places in Sri Lanka. We have listed down the main attractions of Anuradhapura below.
01 – Mihintale.
Mihintale is the place believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was at Mahinda Hill in Mihintale that Buddhism was established in 247 B.C. and now it is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites for Buddhists.
02 – Ruwanweli Maha Seya
In 162. B.C. The Great King Dutugemunu defeated the invading south Indian king Ellalan of the Chola Dynasty in the battle of Vijithapura. After the defeat of Ellalan building of Ruwanweli Maha Seya has been given the most prominence by the King and was built in 140 B.C.
It is also known as “Mahathupa”, “Swarnamali Chaitya”, “Suvarnamali Mahaceti” (in Pali) and “Rathnamali Dagaba”. The original stupa of Ruwanweli Maha Seya was 55 meters tall and one of the tallest stupas in the world in the 19th century. It was then renovated after a fundraising effort by Sinhalese bhikkhus.
This is a stupa and a hemispherical structure containing relics, in Sri Lanka, considered sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. Two quarts or one Drona of the Gothama Buddha’s relics are enshrined in the stupa, which is the largest collection of his relics anywhere.
03 – Sri Maha Bodhi
Sri Maha Bodhi is the sacred fig tree brought by Sangamitta Mahatrheree, the daughter of Emporer Asoka. It is said to be the southern branch of the historical Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in Bihar, India under which The Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.
The sacred tree is in Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
04 – The Isurumuniya Viharaya
This famous Viharaya is located near the Tissa Wewa (Tissa Tank) in Anuradhapura.
It is renowned for its stone carvings which are world famous. The most known carving among them was ‘Isurumuniya Lovers’ and the others are ‘The Horseman, Elephant Pond and The Royal Family.’
This temple was also built by King Devampiyatissa. This place is believed to be where the mythical Pulasthi Rishi was said to be living and the mythical King Ravana was born.
05 – Abhayagiri Dagaba
Abhayagiri Dagaba was a major monastery site of Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana Buddhism that was situated in Anuradhapura. Historically this was a great monastic center and a royal capital with magnificent stories. This dagaba was the original custodian of the Tooth Relic in the island.
The name means ‘Hill of Protection’ or ‘Fearless Hill’. Scriptures record that a statue of a golden bull containing relics of the Buddha was buried in the core of the stupa.
It is also the most extensive ruins in the world and a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
06 – Jetavanaramaya Stupa
The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa located in the ruins of Jetavana in the sacred world heritage city of Anuradhapura.
At 400 feet, it was the tallest stupa in the world when it was built by King Mahasena.
The structure is no longer the tallest, but it is still the largest, with a base-area of 233,000 meters square. Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used in its construction.
07 – Kuttam Pokuna
Kuttam Pokuna or the twin ponds are another hydrologic engineering marvels of ancient Sri Lanka.
The origins of these ponds are not known but it is thought to have been built during the reign of King Aggabodhi for monks of Abhayagiri monastery.
The smaller pond (the northern) one has been constructed first and the larger one at a later stage. They are connected through a pipeline at the bottom. The northern pond is 91 feet long and the other 132 feet.
Water to these ponds has been supplied through underground pipelines and the water is sent through several filtering chambers before it falls on the northern pond through the mouth of a dragon. The water from both ponds is drained from a small outlet in the smaller northern pond.