Anuradhapura – The City of the God Kings (ඵෙතිහාසික අනුරාධපුරය)

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The city of Anuradhapura is situated 220 km away from Colombo in the north-central province of Sri Lanka on Malwathu Oya. Founded in the 6th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 4th century BC to the beginning of the 11th century AD and was the royal capital of almost 130 successive rulers. At its height, the city was home to over 10,000 Buddhist bhikkus with gigantic stupas ever built by man. Today this ancient capital of Sri Lanka has become sacred to the whole Buddhist world, with its surrounding monasteries covering an area of 40 sq kilometres and one of the world’s major archaeological sites.

According to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of Sri Lanka, the city of Anuradhapura was named after a Minister called Anuradha who founded this area as a village settlement. He was one of the ministers who accompanied King Vijaya from India, who according to the tradition founded the Sinhalese Race in Sri Lanka.

It was King Pandukabhaya who made it his capital in the 4th Century BC. It was during the period of his grandson King Devanampiyatissa that Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka by Arhath Mahinda Thero, the son of Emperor Asoka in India. This was 236 years (middle of the 3rd century BC) after the passing a way of Buddha. From this point onwards a great civilization developed based on one of the greatest religions of South East Asia, Buddhism.

Anuradhapura is a must-visit tourist destination for those who wish to see what Sri Lanka was 2000 years ago. The Sri Maha Bodhi which is an offshoot of the very tree at which Buddha attained nirvana lies in the center of the holy city. Planted in 249 BC, this is the oldest tree in recorded history in the world.

Built in the 3rd century, the Jetawana Stupa of the Jetawanaramaya Aramic Complex at Anuradhapura was originally 400 feet (122 meters) in height and was the third tallest building in the world at that time. Even today as a brick monument, Jethawanaramaya still remains the tallest of its kind in the world.

The new city of Anuradhapura is dotted with star-class hotels and small homestay units to suit all types of travellers. The best way to visit these sites is on a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeler, or by hiring a bicycle. Most lodges have few bicycles for daily hire.

Places of Interest in Anuradhapura

  1. ISURUMUNIAbayagiri Stupa 
    1. Burrows Pavilion
    2. Daladage Ruins
    3. Eth Pokuna 
    4. Gedige Ruins
    5. Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds) 
    6. Lankaramaya 
    7. Pancavasa (Biso Maligaya) with the Moonstone 
    8. Mahapali Alms Hall
    9. Moonstone – 2
    10. Prasada Stupa ( Indikatu Seya)
    11. Rathna Prasada (Jewel Palace) 
    12. Refectory
    13. Relic Shrine 
    14. Samadhi Statue
    15. Samadhi Statue 2 and Bodhighara 
    16. Samadhi Statue 3 and Bodhighara
    17. Uttara Mula
  2. Asokaramaya (Pankuliya Buddha Statue)
  3. Dhakkhina Stupa 
  4. Galpalama (Stone bridges) over Halpan Ela
  5. Galpalama (Stone bridges) over Malwathu Oya
  6. Isurumuniya Vihara (Originally Meghagiri Vihara)
  7. Jethavana Viharaya ( Jethavana Temple) 
  8. Lovamahapaya (The Great Copper Roofed Mansion) 
  9. Mihinthale 
  10. Mirisavatiya Dagaba 
  11. Nakha Vehera
  12. Padalanchana Chethiya
  13. Padanagara I
  14. Padanagara II
  15. Ranmasu Uyana ( Goldfish Park) 
  16. Ransimalakaya
  17. Royal Palace of Vijayabahu I
  18. Ruwanvali Seya 
  19. Samgamiththa Stupaya
  20. Silachetiya (Kujjatissa Stupa)
  21. Sri Maha Bodhi (The sacred Bo-Tree) 
  22. Tapovana Monastery
  23. The Royal Palace of King Vijayabahu I
  24. Thuparamaya
  25. Toluvila Ruins
  26. Mayura Pirivena
  27. Vijayarama Aramic Complex
  28. Vessagiriya (originally Issara Samanarama or Isurumuniya) 

  1. Sandakada Pahana – Moonstone
  2. Korawakgala – Balustrades of Buddhist Buildings
  3. Mura Gala ( Guard Stone)
  4. Makara Torana
  5. Atamasthana

Other Historical Sites around Anuradhapura

  1. Awkana Buddha Statue
  2. Ras Vehera (Sesuruwa)
  3. Hatthikucchi
  4. Namal Uyana
  5. Sigiriya Rock Fortress 
  6. Mihinthale

A chronological list of Sri Lankan kings who ruled from Anuradhapura

click here

Map of Anuradhapura

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Driving Directions to Anuradhapura

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Bus

Anuradhapura is easily reached by bus, train or private transport. Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses start at the Colombo Fort Main Bus Station. There are luxury busses which start from various places in Colomb travelling past Anuradhapura, to Vavuniya and Jaffna. However, you need to search the web and book a seat. These luxury buses mostly travel at night reaching their final destination early in the morning.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Train

5 daily trains are starting from Fort Railway Station to Anuradhapura. Generally, the first train leaves at 9.40 am and the last train at 8.30 pm. Travel time is 4-5 hours depending on the number of stops of the particular train.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Car or Van

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. There are two main routes to Anuradhapura from Kurunegala. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map


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