Attractions Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka), what to see


Anuradhapura - the famous city of ancient monasteries, the capital, where 113 rulers reigned. Located in the northern part of Central Sri Lanka. The ancient monuments of Anuradhapura were discovered in the 19th century, and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient city is called the largest monastery city in the world. In the capital, where 113 kings ruled, where Buddhists make pilgrimages, the greatest monuments, palaces and monasteries of Sri Lanka are located.

General information

The city of Anuradhapura was founded by Prince Anuradha in 500 BC. e. In the III century, Shanghamitta planted here a fig tree of Buddha - the "tree of enlightenment." The city flourished until 993, when the capital was moved to Polonnaruwa.

Attractions hidden for many centuries in the jungle of the city are Aukana Buddha and the Guardian Stone in Thuparam. The 13-meter granite Buddha, carved in the fifth century, is said to be made with such precision that raindrops falling on the tip of his nose drain to the ground exactly between the big toes. A guard stone in Thuparam is said to be holding one of Buddha’s collarbones.

Of great interest is the place where Thero Mahinda, the son of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, proclaimed Buddhism the main religion of Sri Lanka - it is marked by the revered tree of Bo, as well as Ruvanveli Seiya, considered the largest stupa in the world, erected in the II century BC. They say that this structure has the shape of a perfect bubble that forms on the water during rain.

Today, Anuradhapura is essentially two cities: modern, well-planned, shady, comfortable, and ancient, famous for its monuments. The distance between the monuments of Anuradhapura is much greater than in Polonnaruwa, so you will need a taxi or at least a bicycle to inspect them.

Modern Anuradhapura is surrounded by three ancient reservoirs: Tisa Veva and Basavakkulama Veva are located in the west, and Nuwara Veva - in the east. Of all the monuments of the past, they were least affected by time. In the center of the old city is growing Sri Maha Bodhi - the sacred tree of Bo. Like the tooth of the Buddha stored in Kandy, this tree is one of the most revered Buddhist shrines. After the adoption of Buddhism, Devanampia Tissa asked the Indian ruler Ashoka for a branch of the sacred tree under which Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment. Ashoka sent a branch, and a new tree was carefully grown from its stem. Currently, the Bo tree in Anuradhapur is considered the oldest on earth: it is more than 22 centuries old. Nevertheless, it still looks quite strong and healthy. A platform was built around the tree with a stone staircase leading to it, at the base of which there is a golden sculpture depicting the landing of the handle. Believers first bow to her, and then climb to the platform to pray on the tree itself.

Nearby you will see one of the most mysterious places in Anuradhapur. Once there was the majestic palace of Loch Prasad, from which to this day 1,600 gray monolithic columns, set in 40 parallel rows, 40 columns each. Some columns were barbarously destroyed or removed from their places during the restoration carried out at the beginning of the XX century. The palace was built during the reign of Devanampia Tissa (250-210 BC) to receive the Indian messengers who brought the sacred branch from the Bo tree.

The dagobas in Anuradhapur are quite numerous, they are the best preserved evidence of the former greatness of the city. These buildings are distinguished by their beauty and magnificent architecture, therefore it is not surprising that they are attributed to the most significant Buddhist monuments not only in Sri Lanka, but also throughout the world. The height of the dagoba Abkhayagiri, or “the dagoba of Mount Fearless”, is 100 m.

It was built by the ruler of Valagamabahu in 89 BC. e., immediately after the reflection of the Indian invasion. Still ancient is the massive white daoba of Ruvanvelisey, not inferior to Abhayagiri in height. Its construction began under the monarch Dutthagamani (161-137 B.C.), and ended after his death, during the reign of his brother Saddhatissa (137-119 BC).

The oldest dagoba of Anuradhapura, and indeed of the whole island, is Thuparama, located just north of the dagoba of Ruvanvelisey. Its height is only 19 m, this is perhaps the smallest religious building in Anuradhapur, but in importance it surpasses the others. Dagoba Thuparama was erected in 249 BC. Devanampia Tissa commemorates his conversion to Buddhism. It is believed that the right collarbone of Buddha and the dish from which he ate were stored in the dagob. These items are gifts to a convert from the Indian ruler Ashoka. It is not surprising that the Dagoba Thuparama enjoys special respect and is an object of pilgrimage. Dagoba has the shape of a bell and is surrounded by four rows of stone columns. Stairs adorned by skillfully executed bas-reliefs and statues lead to it.

The Dagoba Jetavana on the northern border of the old city cannot be compared in sanctity with the Dagoba Thuparama, it deserves attention because it is the largest in Sri Lanka: its height is 120 m and its diameter is 112 m. The construction of this dagoba dates from the reign of Mahasena (274-301).

To the south of the sacred Bo tree and a little to the east of the Tissa Veva reservoir is the grandiose rock monastery of Issaramunia Vihara. Several monastery premises are located outside the caves. The small museum, opened at the entrance to the cave, exhibited bas-reliefs considered the best in Anuradhapur. Some of them depict members of royal families living in different eras. The most famous bas-relief - “Lovers” (IV – V centuries). Presumably, it depicts either a warrior with a lover, or a divine couple. The bas-relief is made in the Indian gupta style.

Although the dagobas erected by the rulers have survived to one degree or another to the present day, we, unfortunately, cannot say the same about their residences. Only the remains of the palaces of Mahasepa are preserved (301-328) and Vijayabahu I (1055-1110). The magnificent moonstone, once located in front of the Mahasena Palace, today attracts the attention of tourists, but almost nothing remains of the former luxury and grandeur of the palace. Admission is paid or on a single ticket to the "Cultural Triangle."

Outskirts of Anuradhapura

About 12 km east of Anuradhapura, near Route 12 leading to Trincomalee, is the ancient Mihintale Temple, highly revered by Sri Lanka Buddhists. The temple was founded in 247 BC. e., when Mahinda converted to Buddhism the ruler of Anuradhapura.

Mihintale is located on top of a giant granite rock. Numerous stairs lead to the temple. To reach it, believers have to overcome 1840 steps, so the pilgrimage here can be compared with mountain climbing. On the way up, you will see the destroyed hospital and the temple of Kantaka Chetia, dating from about 240 BC. e. But the main monuments of Mihintale are at the top of the cliff: these are two dazzling white dagobas - Ambastale and Mahaseya - surrounded by coconut palms and rocky ledges. From the top of the cliff offers a fabulous beauty view. There is also a small museum with frescoes, fragments of ancient ceramics and bronze figures. Paid entrance.

Aukana Buddha

It is hard to get here by car, but you can walk from Aukana Station, getting off the train from Colombo to Trincomalee. The main local attraction is the 12-meter statue of Aucan Buddha, dating from the 5th century. The statue is carved from solid stone (it is clear that the back has literally grown together with the rock). This is perhaps the most elegant Buddha image of all in Sri Lanka. The Buddha is depicted in the pose of ashiva mudra, that is, blessing. The word “aukana” means “feeding on the sun,” and indeed dawn is the best time to inspect and photograph the statue. If you have personal transport, then in Kekirava (Kekirawa) exit Route 9 and follow the narrow country road through Kalaveva to Aukana (Kalawewa). You will have to drive about 11 km. Paid entrance.


The ancient rock fortress of Yapahuva resembles Sigiriya, but is inferior in size to it. The fortress was built in the XIII century. and served as the residence and main stronghold of ruler Bhuvanekabahu I, who repeatedly reflected the invasions from South India. Currently, you can climb a steep, richly decorated staircase to the platform where the temple once stood. It was in it that the Buddha’s sacred tooth was originally placed, but then it was transferred to the Tooth Temple in Kandy. On the platform you can see some magnificent bas-reliefs, and the view from here opens up truly wonderful. Like in Aukana, it’s hard to get to Japahuvu by personal transport. The fortress is located 4 km from the station Maho (Maho) on the Colombo - Anuradhapura railway line. If nevertheless you decide to go by car, then choose highway 28, between Kurunegalla and Anuradhapura. Paid entrance.

How much does it cost to visit the attractions of Anuradhapura

Now about paying entry. The cost of visiting the complex is $ 25 adult / $ 12.5 - children's ticket. However, the territory to which entrance is paid includes only the Abhayagiri complex. It can also be reached by transport. On the way, you will meet a ticket office, past which you will not be allowed to go until you pay. There are two such ticket offices on the roads, and getting through bypassing them is unlikely to succeed.

The Abkhayagiri complex occupies only a small part of the entire territory, and it is quite possible to do without visiting it if you want to save. On the rest, free territory, there are also quite a few monuments. Sometimes, however, there is occasionally control near some monuments, and then they require a ticket to be presented at the entrance. But this happens extremely rarely, and if you do not have a ticket in this case, you can just turn around and go to another attraction.

There are also two places on the territory of the old city, for which a separate fee is set. This is the palace of Isurumuniya and the Sacred Bodhi Tree. Places are interesting and worth a visit, especially if you save $ 25 in admission.

Useful Tips

How to get around a stupa (dagobu). When examining a stupa (dagoba), you need to go around clockwise, so that all ritual rounds are carried out. In a more correct ritual, it is recommended to crawl it, laying down on the ground, and measuring steps in your own growth.

Clothing. You need to visit not only the Dagobas, but also all the sacred places in modest clothes: no short skirts and shorts, T-shirts, hats, shoes. As for shoes, they leave it at the entrance to the territory of dagobas, temples at special racks, if you are worried about the theft of your shoes (and this happens, especially if the shoes are of good quality or new), take a bag or bag with you, in your hands they may not be allowed to wear it. And another thing: when visiting the dagob in clear weather, the floor heats up a lot, and shoes need to be removed, so it is recommended to wear socks.

Snakes. Be careful when sightseeing, especially remote and less visited. It is easy to run into a snake here, especially in tall grass.

Attractions Anuradhapura

There are quite a lot of places to see in the old part of the city (statues, Bo trees, numerous ruins, artificial ponds, etc.), but the most important and noteworthy monuments are the following:

These are the places we recommend to visit first. And here is a more complete list of monuments of Anuradhapura:

Sacred Bodhi or Mahabodhi Tree (Sri Maha Bodhi)

The Mahabodhi Tree is the most revered pilgrimage site in Anuradhapura. There are always a lot of people here, and not only during religious holidays. It is considered the oldest tree planted by a person with a documented history, and all Bodhi (or Bo) trees planted later and growing now in Sri Lanka are its processes (even his ancestor from India (Bodh Gaya) died a sprout from Anura planted his place). At its core, the Mahabodhi Tree belongs to one of the varieties of ficus.

A branch of this tree was taken from the trunk of the Bo Tree, under which the Buddha gained enlightenment, and brought here by the nun of the Indian emperor Ashoka (Ashoka) in the 3rd century BC from India, planted by King Devanampiya Tissa (Devanampiya Tissa , pr. 307-267 BC) in 249 BC

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: 200 rupees

Lovamahapaya or Bronze Palace (Lovamahapaya, Brazen Palace)

On the way from the Maha Bodhi tree (

50 m) to the Ruwanwelisaya Stupa stupa on the right side you can see a small 2-storey building, surrounded on all sides by many stone pillars, 40 pcs. in 40 rows - this is Lovamahapaya. Originally it was a palace for monks. It consisted of 9 floors and thousands of rooms, was richly and luxuriously decorated inside and out. The roof was covered with bronze plates, hence the second name - the Bronze Palace. It was built by King Dutugemunu (Dutugemunu, Dutugamunu, Dutthagamani, pr. 161-137 BC) in 150 BC During the construction, a tree was used, therefore, practically nothing remained of the original form, although more than once attempts were made to restore it (the latter is dated to the 12th century).

Unfortunately, you can’t enter Lovamahapaya, the whole house is surrounded by an iron fence. Today, monks spend time in prayers, which is probably why the entrance for tourists is closed.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Jetavana Stupa (Jetavana Dagoba, Jetavanaramaya)

The giant stupa of Jetavana is the tallest brick dagoba in the world. And some sources attribute to her the title of the tallest brick building in the world. Its height was originally approx. 122 m., Diameter 112 m. For greater stability, the ancient builders deepened the base of the stupa by 8.5 meters into the ground. It was built by the king of Mahasena (Mahasena, pr. 277-304) in the III century. According to legend, at the site of the construction of the Stupa, it was as if he was reading the sermons of Mahinda (Mahinda, who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka), and the Buddha’s belt is walled inside. Earlier in the surrounding area there was a monastery of Mahavihara (Mahavihara), destroyed for the dissemination of the teachings of Theravada (Theravada). The Jetavana monastery complex built on this site was given to the followers of the teachings of Mahayana. Around the Stupa, numerous ruins are visible, among which are:

  • To the west of the stupa there is a structure from which only parts of the doorway with 8-meter jambs and a wall called Gedige remain (see on the map). Inside is a large pedestal in the form of a lotus, where a Buddha statue was probably installed.
  • Jantaghara (see on the map) is a kind of sauna for monks.
  • Museum Jetavana (see on the map), with artifacts found during excavations on the territory of this complex.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Palace of Isurumuniya (Isurumuniya)

A kilometer south of the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is the royal palace of Isurumuniya. It is carved into the rock at the direction of King Devanampius Tissa (Devanampiya Tissa, pr. 307-267 BC). Subsequently transferred to the disposal of the community, consisting of representatives of the upper class and adopted the monastic rank.

A large pool was built in front of the palace, next to the Temple with a Buddha statue and frescoes on the walls, there is a cave with a large colony of bats. At the very top, where you can climb the stairs from the opposite side of the main entrance, a small white stupa rises, from this place a panoramic view of the surroundings opens. Isurumuniya is also famous for its rocky bas-reliefs, which can be seen to the left of the pool: images of bathing elephants, a carved niche is visible a little higher, where visitors try to drop coins, if you look even higher, you can see another image of a sitting man, over whose right shoulder is a horse’s head .

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: 200 rupees

Stupa Thuparama (Thuparama Dagoba, Thuparamaya)

The very first stupa in Sri Lanka, dedicated to the emergence of Buddhism. With the construction of this stupa, the worship of stupas as important religious objects began. Located north of the Mahabodhi Tree (

1 km). Built by Thuparama in the 3rd century BC.King Devanampiya Tissa (Devanampiya Tissa, pr. 307-267 BC) at the request of Mahinda, who brought this religion to Sri Lanka. An important Buddhist relic, the clavicle of the Buddha, is walled up in the Stupa. The height of the Stupa is 20 m, diameter is 18 m. Initially, it was a stupa-house for storing especially significant and revered relics. Around the Stupa, a domed roof was erected, supported by four rows of columns (176 in total). More than once it was destroyed and plundered, but more than once it was restored. After the last reconstruction, Thuparama was faced with white marble.

Near Thuparama, the remains of buildings are visible, apparently, these are hospital buildings.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Stupa of Ruvanvelisia (Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, Ruvanveli, Ruwanveliseya Dagaba)

The stupa is located north of the Mahabodhi Tree (

500 m). Has several more names White Stupa, Mahathupa, Swarnamali Chaitya, Suvarnamali Mahaceti, Rathnamali Dagaba. The most revered of all the other stupas, because it contains the most relics.

It was laid by the king Dutugemunu (Dutugemunu, pr. 161-137 BC) in 140 BC, and finished with his successor and brother - King Saddha Tissa (Saddha Tissa, pr. 137-119 BC.). Its height is 92 m, its diameter is 90. Almost nothing remains of the initial appearance.

The stupa is located on a square platform, the outer side of which is decorated with bas-reliefs of more than a hundred elephants. Walking around the stupa in a circle you can see the sanctuary with 5 Buddha statues and frescoes on the walls and ceiling, 4 mini-dagobas, a model of the dagoba in a glass cube, as well as a stone sculpture, according to legend, this is King Dutugemunu.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Mirisaveti Stupa (Mirisavetiya)

Stupa Mirisaveti is located (

700 m) west of the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, between the lakes Basawkkulma Tank (Abhaya Veva) and Thissa Wewa (Thissa Veva). This is the first stupa built by King Dutugemunu (Dutugemunu, pr. 161-137 BC) after defeating the king of the Indian Chol dynasty, Elara. According to legend, it was laid in the place where the king stuck his scepter with the relics of Buddha before attending the water festival, and could not pull it out when he returned. Upon completion of the construction, the Mirisaveti Stupa was donated to the monks as a sign of remorse for not offering Dutugemun the first curry crop, as required by tradition. There was practically nothing left of the original form, it was completely rebuilt, now its height is 59 m and its diameter is 43 m.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Stupa Abhayagiri (Abhayagiri Dagoba)

Abhayagiri, the second highest in the stupa of Anuradhapura, is located further north (Stupa Abhayagiri on the interactive map of Anuradhapura). Its height reached 112 m and a diameter of 106.5 m. The Stupa was built during the second reign of King Valagamba (Valagamba, Vattagamani Abhaya, Valagambahu, pr. 103, 89-77 BC) over a footprint left by himself Buddha.

The stupa was located in the center of a large monastic complex, where the Buddhist movement of Mahavihara was trained and disseminated. It was an important religious center, known only in Sri Lanka, but also beyond its borders. He existed until the XII-XIII century. For a while, the monastery became the guardian of the sacred Tooth Relic when it was in the 4th century AD AD brought to Sri Lanka.

The area around the stupa contains the ruins of many ancient buildings and structures: Moonstone, Ratnaprasada, Bodhighara, Burrows Pavilion, Refectory, Elephant Pond, Assembly Hall, Kapara mula, Museum, Lankarama Complex, Samadhi Budda Statue, Twin Pond. Entrance to this territory is paid ($ 25) and is rather strictly controlled. Here are the most interesting objects in this area:

  • Ratnaprasada (see map of Anuradhapura) with images of Guardstone (guards) carved on stone slabs and installed in front of the entrance to the temple, sometimes they are replaced with simple plates.
  • Moonstones (Moonstone). Interesting decorations of the main entrances to the buildings are Moonstone, which can be seen almost everywhere, in front of a flight of stairs. According to the beliefs of Buddhists, they symbolize the cycle of human rebirth and are a semicircle divided into sectors with images, as a rule, of swans, floral ornaments, animals (elephants, lions, horses, bulls), flames. They are especially well preserved in the Mahasena Palace (see on the map of Anuradhapura).
  • The complex is located three statues of Samadhi Buddha (Bodhigara): Samadhi Buddha Statue (1st Samadhi Statue) (see map of Anuradhapura), 2nd Samadhi Buddha Statue (see map of Anuradhapura), 3rd Samadhi Buddha Statue (see map of Anuradhapura) The oldest - Samadhi Buddha Statue, is considered the best Buddha statue depicting it at the time of meditation and is dated to the 4th century. AD
  • Refectory (see on the map of Anuradhapura) - in other words, the "monastic dining room." It is in ruins, but a stone similarity to a boat or Rice Canoe with a length of 19 m is clearly distinguished, which housed almost 5,000 servings of rice for the monks.
  • Nearby is another object - artificial pond Eth Pokuna (Elephant Pond) (see map of Anuradhapura), the largest artificial pool in Anuradhapura, was designed to store and provide water to the Abhayagiri Monastery.
  • Abhayagiri Museum (see map of Anuradhapura) was created in honor of the Chinese monk Faxian, who came to study here in 412 AD, was engaged in translating Buddhist texts into Chinese and wrote a large treatise on his pilgrimage. The Museum exhibits various artifacts found on the territory of Abhayagiri.
    🕐 working time: Monday, Wednesday - Friday 8.00 - 17.00, Tuesday - 7.30 - 16.30, day off - Saturday, Sunday.
  • East of the Stupai Abhayagiri are located two lakes - Kuttam Pokuna (Kuttam Pokuna, Twin Ponds) (see map of Anuradhapura), similar to each other. These are quite beautiful and original engineering structures, interconnected by a pipeline, intended for bathing monks. Water entered them, having passed the preliminary stage of purification, first to the north pond (length approx. 28 m), and then to the south (length approx. 40 m). On the northern wall of the small pond, a small stone drain is visible, through which water flowed into the pond, and a stone with the image of naga (snake) is slightly higher. The construction of these ponds dates back to about the VI century.
  • Lankarama (Lankarama, Lankaramaya) (see on the map of Anuradhapura) was built by King Valagamba (Valagamba, Vattagamani Abhaya, Valagambahu, pr. 103, 89-77 BC) in the 1st century BC BC. in the image of the Stupa of Thuparam (Thuparama Dagoba, Thuparamaya). It had a roof supported by three rows of columns (a total of approx. 88 pcs.) Located around the Stupa. The diameter of the stupa is 14 m. It probably served as a repository for important relics, and was disguised as a residential building.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: Entrance to the territory of the Abhayagiri complex on a single ticket - $ 25 (see the beginning of the article). Tickets are sold at ticket offices at the entrance / entrance to the complex. Only the Kuttam Pokuna Pond can be seen for free.

Dakkhina Stupa

On the way to Isurumuniya, to the right of Kurunegala Road, the dilapidated Dakkin stupa is visible, it is notable for the fact that it was formed at the site of the cremation of King Dutugemunu (Dutugemunu, pr. 161-137 BC), which did a lot for development state.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Vessagiriya (Vessagiriya, Vessagiri)

Further along the Kurunegala Road (

800 m) from Isurumuniya (Isurumuniya) is located Wessagiriya. This is a network of 23 mountain caves with the most ancient Brahmin inscriptions. Its construction was carried out for prayer and meditation by more than 500 monks and belongs to King Devanampiya Tissa (Devanampiya Tissa, pr. 307-267 BC). Around the ruins of buildings and dagobas are visible.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Folk Museum Anuradhapura (Folk Museum Anuradhapura)

Near the Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, there is the Anuradhapura Folk Museum. It contains household items, tools and other exhibits that demonstrate the traditional way of life of a small community (Nuwara Kalaviya).

🕐 working time: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., closed on Tuesday, Sunday

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: adult - 300 rupees, children - 150 rupees

Archaeological Museum (Archaeological Museum Anuradhapura)

A museum with a large collection of various archaeological finds collected in the territory of Anuradhapura, Mihintale and other places of Sri Lanka (stone sculptures, coins, letters, jewelry, household items and much more).

🕐 working time: Monday, Wednesday-Friday 9.00 - 17.00, day off - Tuesday, Sunday

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: unknown

Artificial ponds (Tank, Wewa, Veva)

In drought seasons, in the absence of the ability to adequately provide crops with water, the need arose to create artificial reservoirs for collecting water. To this end, artificial reservoirs (reservoirs) were created for the storage and use of water for agricultural purposes. There are three large reservoirs in Anuradhapur, in addition to them there are several smaller ones, and all of them are an unconditional masterpiece of irrigation facilities of that time:

  • Basawakkulama Tank (Basawkkulama Tank, Abhaya Wewa, Abhaya Veva) (see map of Anuradhapura) is the oldest reservoir. Built by King Pandukabhaya (Pandukabhaya, pr. 377 - 367 BC). Area about 130 hectares.
  • Nuwara Wewa (Nuwara Veva) (see on the map of Anuradhapura) - the largest in Anur, its area is about 1200 hectares. It was built by the king of Valagamba (Valagamba, pr. 103, 89-77 BC) in the 1st century. BC.
  • Tissa Wewa (Tisa Veva) (see map of Anuradhapura) - created during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (Devanampiya Tissa, pr. 307-267 BC). Area approx. 160 ha.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Royal Palace of King Vijayabahu I

was the temporary residence of King Vijayabahu (Vijayabahu I, ave. 1056-1111), who freed Anurudhapura from the reign of the Chola dynasty. After 3 years, the king moved to the new capital - the city of Polonnaruwa. The size of the palace is 39 m by 66 m.

💵 Entrance fee / ticket price: is free

Photo of attractions of Anuradhapura

  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Sacred bodhi tree
  • Jetavan stupa
  • Jetavan stupa
  • Jetavan stupa
  • Palace of Isurumuniya View photos in 3D
  • Isurumuniya Palace, a niche for coins
  • Isurumuniya Palace, Reclining Buddha
  • Isurumunia Palace, Frescoes
  • Isurumuniya Palace, Bat Cave
  • Stupa thuparama
  • Stupa thuparama
  • Stupa of Ruvanvelisia
  • Stupa of Ruvanvelisia
  • Anuradhapura
  • Anuradhapura View photos in 3D
  • The ruins of the royal palace, Anuradhapura View photos in 3D
  • The ruins of the royal palace, Anuradhapura
  • Ruins of Dalad Maligawa, Anuradhapura View 3D photos
  • Rice trough in the refectory, Anuradhapura
  • Kuttam Pokuna
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Ancient city

City of Anuradhapura - This is a small modern city in the north of Sri Lanka, which is located next to the impressive ancient ruins of the first capital of Sinhala. We arrived here in the afternoon. Our bus stopped at the bus station, and all the passengers got off. Then we got our luggage and went to get acquainted with the new city. At that moment, we really did not know anything about Anuradhapura except that there is an ancient city and outstanding sights of Sri Lanka.

Reading information about Anuradhapura on the Internet, we are very interested in its history. It turned out that the city was built in an area called Rajarat - that is, the “Land of the Kings”. Another and more modern name for this region is the Cultural Triangle. Well, that means there is definitely something to see for independent travelers and tourists!

The city of Anuradhapura is also called the most important of the ancient cities, since it was the center for a long period of time - for almost a thousand years it held the metropolitan status of the Sinhalese kings and the South Indian emperors of the Chola dynasty. There were strong trade ties with China. And he was an important center of Buddhism, not only for neighbors, but the fame of his power reached even the Mediterranean. Ambassadors from Anuradhapura met in Rome with Emperor Claudius.

Observation deck on a huge megalith

What to see

Attractions Anuradhapura located on a large territory and are of great interest among numerous tourists. The ruins of palaces and ancient dagobas, as well as the sacred Bodhi tree - all this is definitely worth a look.

It is here, in the eponymous modern city of Anuradhapura, which appeared only at the beginning of the 20th century, tourists come who want to learn about the long past of Sri Lanka and visit the UNESCO heritage site. Someone goes with an organized tour or gets out for a couple of days from the beaches for an excursion, and here we traveled on our own.

Map of the Archaeological Park of Anuradhapur

Anuradhapura consists of the so-called “old city” (Old City), which houses the archaeological zone and the main attractions of the ancient capital, and the “new city” with a tourist area, cafes, shops for hotels and guesthouses, separated from the old city by the river.

Here is an overview video about Anuradhapura:

From the very beginning, it becomes clear that the city of Anuradhapura does not just stand on the river, which connected it with the northern coast (off the island of Mannar). Previously, it was very important for communication with the allies in the person of the Chola Dynasty, which extended its influence not only to its closest neighbors, but also to other states and empires of Southeast Asia.

For example, the Khmers, who, under the influence of Chola, built the temples of Angkor, and Dvaravati, an ancient state in Thailand. Remember the biggest stupa of Thailand - Chedi Pra Nakhom Patom! And thus, it was from Sri Lanka and Anuradhapura that Buddhism spread throughout the world.

Tip. During a tour of the city of Anuradhapura, do not forget about the sun and protect your head and skin if you are easily exposed to tanning. During hot days it is better to drink more water.

Archaeological area

Leaving the bus station, we immediately got into the so-called archaeological zone, which is visited by all tourists. The main tourist office of Anuradhapura is located on Sri Maha Bodhi, 200 meters from the old northern railway station and bus station. Here we took a map and found out all the information we were interested in. We recommend that you go to this useful place.

  • Tourism office hours: 9.00 - 16.45 on weekdays and 9.00 - 13.00 on weekends.
  • Ticket office hours: 7.00 - 19.00 daily. And the ruins are open around the clock.
  • Ticket costs $ 25, valid for one day from the date of purchase. Entrance to the monastery of Isurumuniya and to the bodhi tree is paid separately - 200 rupees.

It's important to know! In Sri Lanka, it is customary to take off your shoes when you go to holy places. And the dagobas of Anuradhapura certainly belong to them. Therefore, be sure to leave your sandals in front of the Buddhist shrines. If you do not plan to return to the same place where you entered, or are afraid that your shoes will be stolen, then carry the shoes with you in a bag or put them in a backpack. Since brick buildings in the hot sun become very hot, and there is a risk of getting a foot burn, we advise you to have special socks for examining the dagobas. And yet, clothing should also be modest: shoulders and knees should be covered.

How to get there

There are several options for getting to Anuradhapura that are suitable for tourists. For ourselves, we decided that it would be easiest to come by bus from Colombo to Anuradhapura. Although it would be possible to buy a train ticket and travel by rail without any problems. Or take a taxi / minibus, but it will be profitable and convenient if you travel in a large company.

  • By train: from Colombo there are 6 trains a day. There are cars of three classes, 2 and 3 can be sleeping. Ticket price - from 100 to 520 rupees. Travel time - 5 hours. The stations are located next to the New Bus Station and 2 km north of the city.
  • By bus: there are several options. It takes 5 hours to travel from Colombo to Anuradhapura, the ticket costs 100-200 rupees, from Kandy 3 hours for 70-150 rupees, the journey time from Polonnaruwa will be 3 hours, the ticket price is 50 rupees. And you can also take the bus from Negombo (with a change in Kurunegal), the journey will take 6-7 hours and you will have to pay 120-200 rupees.
    Important! All buses coming from the North and East directions stop at the New Bus Station, and from the South - at the Old North Bus Station. It should be borne in mind that no matter what bus station a bus leaves, it always goes to the second and gets passengers. However, there may no longer be convenient seats in the cabin, so it is better to immediately occupy them at the point of departure.
  • By taxi: If you take a car from Colombo or Negombo, then the transfer cost will be $ 150. Driver services with a car throughout the Cultural Triangle will cost $ 170-200.

What is the best way to watch Anuradhapura

Keep in mind that the territory of the old city is simply huge, and the sights are scattered quite far from each other. On foot in the heat to inspect them will be quite problematic, so you should think about transport. There are several options for driving between the attractions of Anuradhapura:

  • By taxi: the driver will carry all the sights of the old city for $ 20,
  • On tuk tuk: cost - 100 rupees per hour,
  • On bicycle: in any hotel or guesthouse you can rent a bike and ride the ruins on your own. Cost - 200 rupees per day.

We took a taxi with a driver. At first they thought to inspect on their own, but were glad of the opportunity. However, the cost of his services eventually came into the total amount that we paid him for a trip around the entire cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

Since we arrived in Anuradhapura quite tired after the flight and the hot bus, the driver came in handy. He drove us to all the sights and sometimes even told us something and kindly took photos for us. However, in general, we were not very lucky with the driver, and he later even tried to deceive us. You can see all the details here.

We recommend taking a driver or guide for those who do not have much time or who, like us at that moment, know little about Anuradhapura. However, if we immediately went to the hotel after the bus and slept first, and then prepared well for sightseeing, as we usually do, we would go to the archaeological park in the morning. And would prefer in this case to explore the sights of Anuradhapura on bicycles on their own.

Tip. Sightseeing in Anuradhapura is most convenient to start with a visit to the sacred bodhi tree and the ruins next to it, and then go to the Isurumuni monastery located in the south. After that, starting from the dagoba Mirisaveti and the dagoba Ruvanveli, move north to the palace of Mahasena and the Moonstone. And you can finish the inspection at the highest dagoba - Jetavanarama.

Recommended visit stupas and other Buddhist shrines, going around them clockwise. Thus, the generally accepted ritual is performed and the pilgrim receives a blessing.

Sacred Bodhi Tree and Bronze Palace

On the territory of the old city, it is especially worth noting the sacred for Buddhists Bo tree (Sri Maha Bodhi or Mahabodhi), which has been growing here for more than 2000 years. Its planting is documented in the annals, and the seed is brought from India. It comes from the very tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.

Dog at the holy stupa of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka

Keep in mind that entrance to the tree is paid separately. It turned out that the main trunk of Mahabodhi was destroyed in the 19th century by an English religious fanatic. However, his small trunk remained, which is supported by numerous props.

Next to the Bodhi tree is Bronze palace - The pyramidal structure of King Dutthagamani. Only 1,600 granite columns have survived.

Isurumuni Monastery

Then we went to explore the ruins of the archaeological zone of Anuradhapura. First of all, we came to the Isurumuni Monastery (Isurumuni Raja Maha Viharaya), the entrance here is paid separately (200 rupees), and the funds raised supposedly go to restore the facility.

Entrance to the Isurumuni Monastery

The monastery stands on the shores of Lake Tissa. It is famous for ancient stone reliefs - Lovers, Seated man and the Head of a horse. Most of the sculptures and reliefs were transferred to the museum, which is located here at the monastery.

Relief "Sitting man"

The stones around which and on which the monastery was built seemed huge to us! These are not just megaliths, but super megaliths, and although they were not processed by humans, but simply used in construction, they still inspire respect! Steps to the observation deck are cut right on the rock.

If you go upstairs, you have wonderful views of the surroundings. Here, apparently, it is good to meet the sunset and dawn, as the panorama is 360 degrees. Unfortunately, we were not able to see this beauty, and still regret it.

The monastery has a stone pool

Dagoba Mirisaveti

Also near the lake is Mirisavatiya dagoba, where we went straight from Isurumuni. In antiquity, its height reached 61 meters, but in the X century it was rebuilt. Mirisaveti was built the very first in Anuradhapur, immediately after the foundation of the city. It is oriented to the cardinal with four gates. We walked around her, carefully examining the details that seemed interesting to us.

According to legend, King Dutthagamani ordered this dagobah to be built on the spot where he put his royal regalia in which the relics of Buddha were stored. The king went to swim, but on his return he could not take his things back. So he realized that it was in this place that he needed to put a dagoba. After all, the stupa (or chedi), according to the Buddhists, is a funerary hill, and the holy relics of Buddha should be kept inside.

Among the ruins you can sometimes find such unexpected surprises.

Dagoba Ruvanveli

Another interesting Ruvanvelisaya dagoba stands out among other attractions of Anuradhapura in that it is surrounded by a wall of 400 elephants. The construction of this dagoba was also begun by King Dutthagamani in II BC, and its height is 54 meters. The original name of the dagoba is Mahathupa, that is, the Great Stupa. This name is not associated with height (it was the third among the stupas of Anuradhapura), but with the meaning - a golden bodhi tree is hidden inside.

Interesting fact: when the reconstruction of the shrine began in the 19th century, Buddhists from Burma donated precious stones to decorate the spire.

Dagob Ruvanveli in Sri Lanka is surrounded by a formation of elephants

Walking along the wall with the elephants at the Ruvanveli dagoba, we involuntarily remembered and compared the Lankan shrine with the Terrace of the Elephants in Angkor. And although the material and style are completely different, there are similarities - the same worship of elephants in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Elephants in the first capital of Sinhala are drawn with almost biological accuracy, but among Khmers they are more like a conventional image of a beloved animal.

Dagoba Thuparama

And then we were near the smallest of the stupas of ancient Anuradhapura - Thuparama dagoba. Its height is only 19 meters - was laid in the III century BC as a sign of the adoption of Buddhism. And this means that this Dagoba is the oldest in Sri Lanka. Inside is the clavicle of the Buddha. This is a gift from Mahinda, the son of the Indian king Ashok.

When the dagoba was rebuilt in the 13th century, a roof was built over it. The wooden building rotted over time, but the stone columns remained. Such a building is called wat-dage. It seemed interesting to us, we have never seen anything like this before.

Dagoba Lankaram

Also built in the style of wat daghe dagoba, Lankarama (Lankarama dagoba) is not a very large stupa. It was erected in the 1st century, and fully corresponds to the canon, which was popular in Anuradhapur, and later will not disappear in the second capital of the Sinhalese - in Polonnaruwa. We looked at her from the side, but if we had more time, we would definitely come closer. She's worth it.

Vijayabahu Palace

The territory of the former palace of the local ruler seemed very interesting to us. And although only columns remained from the Vijayabahu Palace itself, built in the 9th century, here you can still see a huge pool and refectory. The dimensions of the so-called rice pots and curry pots really impressed us!

The ruler’s bath house impressed us with its size

The "refectory" of the Vijayabahu Palace. At first I did not believe that rice was cooked here!

Mahasena Palace and Moonstone

We continued to explore the archaeological area in the territory of another popular palace. Compared to other attractions of Anuradhapura, Mahasena Palace famous for its moonstone. And the era of this king was marked by a temporary victory of Mahayana Buddhism over Theravada Buddhism. The change of emphasis has led to a change in construction - filigree stone carving has become very popular. And the moonstone is the best and most famous cast of the time - the 7th-8th centuries. We saw a similar moonstone later in Polonnaruwa.

Dagoba Abhayagiri

Another one Dagoba Abhayagiri (Abhayagiri dagoba) was built in the 1st century BC, and its height is 115 meters. However, now, after restoration, the dagoba rushed up only 75 meters. Next to it was one of the largest monasteries in the country, in which about 5,000 monks lived. It’s a pity that I didn’t see him.

According to legend, the name Abhayagiri is associated with the flight of King Valagambahu from enemies. Seeing him fleeing, the monk Giri ridiculed the king. And he promised to return and ... revenge. After 14 years, the king really returned to his capital, found the monk Giri and executed him. And at the place of execution he built a stupa, naming it in honor of his scoffer.

We saw one of the highest dagobas standing in the woods. Apparently, she was waiting for an emergency reconstruction. We hope that you will be able to see what it has become after the repair.

Kuttam Pokuna Pool

And there is Kuttam Pokuna Pool, which was built specifically for the Abhayagiri monastery. It seemed interesting to us that it consists of two parts connected to each other. For good reason it was done!

In general, the ancient structures of Anuradhapura are very impressive. They do not look like they were built for the monks, but rather for the kings.

Dagoba Jetavanarama

But the most important thing to see in the ancient city is the brick Dagaba Jetavanarama (Jetavanarama dagoba). This is one of the few Anuradhapura stupas not covered in white paint. The dagoba was built in the III century by King Mahasena, and its height was 122 meters in antiquity, and now it is only 70 meters. Nevertheless, it was the largest (tallest) brick building in the world. During the heyday of the Sinhala states, it was one of the tallest structures in the world, second only to the ancient Egyptian pyramids. It is interesting to know that now the highest stupa in the world is the heiress of the Sri Lankan Dagobas - Chedi Phra Patom in Thailand.

The restoration of the dagoba is still ongoing (conducted since 1981), so you can walk around its territory without taking off your shoes.

The height of this stupa is bewitching. We had to go far to fit it into the frame, and the people who examined the Buddhist shrine at that moment and were walking along the foundation seemed very small.

Did you immediately notice the people below?

Our impressions of Anuradhapura

Despite the fact that we spent only half a day in Anuradhapur, we can definitely say that this is a grandiose place that is worth a visit for everyone interested in Buddhism, its history and the countries of Southeast Asia. After all, Anuradhapura is not only the first capital of Lanka, but also a missionary distributor of Buddhism in other countries.

We were especially impressed by the ancient Dagobas, who at first glance seemed similar to each other, but nevertheless set interesting records - the oldest, highest! Each of them has its own legend. And we were struck by the testimonies of monastic life under these Dagobas! Just imagine how rice was cooked in these giant stone vats ?!

During a tour of the city of Anuradhapura, we were particularly interested in a practical hydraulic system consisting of artificial pools and irrigation canals. Previously, it supported the successful life of a city located in a rather arid region.

We really enjoyed in Anuradhapur, and we did not regret that we put this ancient city in first place in our travel route in Sri Lanka, which we continued after a vacation in the Maldives. So we started the history of the island from the very beginning. Although it would be a little more correct to first glance at Mihintal, the place from which Buddhism spread throughout Lanka itself. But you can visit the shrine the next day, as we did.

Good to know

To visit the city of Anuradhapura in Sri lanka and to see its attractions, you need to buy a ticket and fly by plane to the Bandaranaike International Airport, located in the capital Colombo. Direct flights from Moscow to Colombo fly several times a day.

1. We recommend watching prices on flights to Sri Lanka on the site We flew to the capital of Sri Lanka Colombo from Moscow with a transfer in Dubai. The flight completely satisfied us both in price (we bought a ticket during the sale from the airline) and in terms of service. Although there was another good option - a direct flight. That would be faster, but more expensive. And now it seems that they have been canceled altogether, so only the option with a transfer remains. You can also buy a cheap flight ticket to Colombo by choosing the month that suits you:

2. We always use the site to book hotels >>, because it presents the widest selection and detailed information with descriptions and photos of rooms, as well as you can read real reviews.

We recommend reading our selection of hotels in Sri Lanka:

Geography and climate

Historical chronicles report that the first settlement on the site of a modern city arose in the V century BC. e. However, according to archaeological excavations, Anuradhapura existed at least from the X century BC. e. According to the chronicles, the city owes its heyday to King Pandukabhaye (sing. පණ්ඩුකාභය), in 377 BC e. the one who elected Anuradhapura (called Anuradha) the capital of the first Sinhala kingdom on the island. The city had a clear layout, in the vicinity there was an extensive system of irrigation canals. To supply the city with the order of the king, an artificial lake was built, which has survived to this day.

The location of the capital was chosen exceptionally well - the river connected the city with the coast of the Gulf of Manara, the network of roads - with the deep areas of the island, and the coastal jungle protected from attacks by pirates and conquerors. Anuradha developed dynamically as a commercial and religious center, it was from here that Buddhism spread throughout the island. Thanks to the influx of merchants and pilgrims, the city was widely known in the world, in particular, it is marked on the maps of Claudius Ptolemy. In the year 100 BC e. the population of Anuradha was 130,000, which put it in sixth place in the world in this indicator non-authoritative source? The capital was famous for its high level of medicine and the attention that the city authorities paid to clean streets and waste collection.

In the XI century AD e. the city was destroyed by the rulers of the South Indian Tamil state of Chola that captured the island, later the capital of the Sinhala state was moved to Polonnaruwa. Anuradhapura lost its political and economic significance, many residents left the city. However, it remained a place of attraction for Buddhist pilgrims, and an important religious center of Sri Lanka.

On May 14, 1985, LTTE gunmen seized a bus and occupied a bus station, firing machine guns at passengers waiting for buses. Then the militants headed towards the temple of the Mahabodhi tree, having shot monks and parishioners there. Then they entered Wilpatta National Park and shot 18 park workers. A total of 146 people died.

Geography and climate edit |Isurumuniya Vihara

English Isurumuniya Vihara (Originally Meghagiri Vihara)

Here begins the territory of the old city. In 1950, all residents from this territory were relocated to the New City.

The rock palace was built in 307-267 BC. for 500 boy monks from the upper class. Located in the rocks, next to Lake Tissa. Transferred to the community of monks. The temple of Isurumuniya was one of the buildings of the largest monastery in Anuradhapur.

  • two temples - old and new

Old and new temples.

Isuruminia. Reclining buddha and monk

Isuruminia. Meditating buddha

To preserve the sculptures and bas-reliefs, they were transferred to the museum, which is located nearby.

Bodhi tree

Full name: Mahabodhi Tree (Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi)

One of the most famous Buddhist shrines of the whole world. The Bodhi Tree, or simply, the Bo Tree is very old, it is 2250 years old. It is grown from a branch of a tree (ficus) in the city of Bodh Gaya, under which Prince Gautami became a Buddha who attained enlightenment.

In the 19th century, the main trunk of the Mahabodhi tree in Anuradhapur was cut down by an English fanatic, however, there remained a small trunk, which is now revered and adhered to with gold props.

The monks caring for the tree take young shoots and grow new trees. There are many Bodhi trees in the temple.

Old Bo Tree

Young Bo Tree

Bronze Palace (Loja Pasada)

Another name is Lovamahapaya. The palace is located next to the sacred tree. Built for monks.

This amazing building dates back 2000 years. It was built under the legendary ruler Anuradhapura Dutugamunu.

Everyone writes that the temple has 9 floors, but I can’t imagine how tall they should be if the height of the entire temple is 4 meters. The temple has more than 1000 rooms. Now we are unlikely to see them. Along the perimeter is 1600 columns. Here it is - please. True, while the columns are concrete, the view produces a strange, but it is impressive. Once the columns were decorated with slabs of silver.

Loja Pasada Bronze Palace

The roof resembles a pyramid in shape, its arches were decorated with copper tiles so that it shone in the sun.

Legend says that the exterior of the building is taken from the vision of the monks.

A group of monks saw the temple during meditation. They sketched what they saw with red arsenic and brought the drawing to the king.

The first temple was built of wood and burned down during one of the fires. Today there are only references to him and the columns.

Around the Bodhi tree is the historical territory of Anuradhapura. Long Alley - The ancient city street goes from the Bo Tree Temple.

Along it are huge religious buildings, similar in shape to a bell. These are dagobas or stupas.

Dagoba or Stupa is a Buddhist architectural and sculptural monolithic monumental and religious structure that has hemispherical outlines. Originally, the stupa was a reliquary, and then became a monument, erected in honor of some event in Buddhism. Historically, it dates back to the burial mounds built for the burial of kings or leaders. Wikipedia

Mirisaveti Dagoba

English Mirrorisaweti stupa

Legend tells: King Dutugamunu with a harem went to Lake Tissa, where the Water Festival was held. He stuck his staff (scepter) into the soft earth, in which a relic was hidden (most likely a piece of Buddha’s bone).

After some time, in preparation for returning to the palace, the king discovered that neither he nor any of his retinue could pull the staff out of the ground - it took root and grew into the ground. Dutugamunu regarded this as a sign from above - the relic should remain in this place, and decided to build a dagobu over the staff.

The construction took 3 years. In the X century, the stupa was rebuilt.

You already understood that inside each stupa there is a reliquary in which some shrine is stored. It can be a piece of Buddha’s bone, his alms bowl, a belt, even a trace or a tooth. Dagoba may be a monument to the event.

Ruvanveli Dagoba

English Ruwanwelisaya stupa

To inspect the next stupa, you need to go to the Basavakkulam reservoir.

Ruvanveli Dagoba was erected II - I centuries A.D.

The most famous building of King Dutugemunu. It is also called the White Stupa or Mahatupa, which means "great stupa."

The stupa holds the Buddha's bowl for alms.

The construction is huge. It covers an area of ​​120 hectares.

Currently, its height is more than 90 meters, and the diameter at the base is 91 meters.

And this is how the stupa looks like on a holiday:

Festive Ruvanveli Dagoba

We watched the decoration happen. This can be seen in the photo report.

Ruvanveli Pedestal Stupas

The foundation of a stupa of golden gravel. It is placed on a pedestal. It looks impressive, solemn and mysterious - there are 400 elephants on the pedestal bas-reliefs. The symbolic and cosmogonic meaning is that the World stands on the Elephants.

The base of Ruvanveli Dagoba

Elephants participated in the construction of Ruvanveli dagoba. Each leg of an elephant was tied with leather cloth.

The king personally supervised the work. He watched how a relict chamber was created for the Buddha’s chalice and watched as the chalice was hidden inside.

During the construction, delegations from various parts of India came to the stupa, 30,000 monks from Alexandria (in the Caucasus), led by the Indo-Greek monk Mahadharmaraksita (Mahadharmaraksita).

In 1839, the dagoba was rebuilt.

Near Ruvanveli is a sanctuary with 5 statues telling about the incarnations of Buddha. Pay particular attention to one of them. This is a statue of a meditating Buddha. It is believed that she is a portrait of King Dutugamunu. (I talked a lot about Datugumun in a previous article).

Nearby is a small copy of the entire sanctuary.

The legend of the stupa and death of Dutugamunu

King Dutugamunu did not find the end of the work - the complex was completed after his death, the son of the king. But the Sri Lankans tell a moving story about the last hours of Dutugamun's life.

Ruvanveli Stupa is the king’s favorite brainchild. He dreamed of seeing the building completed, but his health was getting worse and the king kept his last strength. Sensing a quick demise, he rushed his brother, who now supervised the construction. And the brother said that there was not much left, although unexpected difficulties dragged on the completion of the building.

Seeing that the king was dying, and wishing to make him happy, his brother told us good news - the stupa was ready. The king was so inspired that his powers returned for a while and he decided before he died to see the creation.

Palankin with the king moved to the dagob, on the way the king met his old friend, who now became a monk. They talked about the mortality of elderly men and that the rulers immediately after death are reborn in the celestial sphere of Tushit.

Then the palanquin moved on. And so they came to the dagoba. The king looked out and saw his dream - a pure white stupa in the blue hot sky.

The king died happy, never knowing that his brother Tissa went to deception: knowing that the king’s vision was very weak, his brother pulled a clean white cloth on the frame. Dutugamunu was sure that the stupa was completed.

In fact, it was only half erected.

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Jetavana Dagoba

English Jethawanaramaya dagoba

If you leave the complex and go through the Jetavanarama monastery, you will see another stupa of enormous size.

This is Jetavana Dagoba - the highest stupa in Sri Lanka. Built in the 3rd century BC at the place where the gardens of Nandana were. Here, for seven days, the son of King Ashoka, Prince Arahat Mahinda, who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka, read a sermon.

Jetavana is the changed Indian word of Jotivan. It translates as "a place where the rays of liberation shone."

In each stupa some shrine is stored. Inside this stupa is the belt of the Buddha.

Jetavana Dagoba is the tallest brick building in the world. Of the ancient structures, only two pyramids in Giza are above it.

The stupa was completely destroyed. Restoration work began only in 1981. Since then, the dagoba has been open to pilgrims, worship services are held here.

If we consider the main historical document of the Sinhala kingdom - the chronicles of Mahavasma, then we will find out the details of the construction and features of this dagoba.

At the base is its ideal circle with a diameter of 122 meters, which is difficult to do without special measuring tools.

It is known that the construction of this dagoba took about 90 million bricks.

Abhayagiri Dagoba

English Abayagiri Dagoba. It is also called Abyagiri Dagoba.

In the north of the complex are the ruins of the Abhayyagiri monastery. It was built specifically for the monks who were expelled from the main monastery.

Monks were declared heretics, but in reality they created the Mahayana Buddhist movement, more liberal than the main one.

Abyagiri dagoba is the center of this movement.

This is what Abhayagiri Dagaba looked like recently

Inside the monastery is another interesting dagoba.

During its founding (XII century), it was the second tallest in the Capital.

Tradition has it that it was built right above the place where Buddha’s foot touched the ground.

Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Pools)

On the territory of the monastery Abyagiri is a unique building. These are twin pools built by masters of the ancient capital.

The name should not confuse you, the pools are not identical. The length of one is 40 meters, the other is only 28 meters. But, this is not the main thing: the local water purification system is much more interesting, because the water in the pools is transparent and clean.

The pools are considered an example of significant achievements in the field of hydro-engineering and architectural and artistic creations of the ancient Sinhalese.

Before entering the reservoirs, the water passes through a series of narrow underground channels, is filtered by sand and earth, falling into the pool completely free of dirt and debris.

Granite slabs were cut for the pools, including the bottom and sides of the pool. And around the pool there is a wall that covers and fastens the connection.

The entrance to the pool is decorated with a lion's head and an image of a snake, on the walls of a bowl of plenty.

In the pools themselves, real living turtles are splashing.

Finally, we want to give you some useful tips:

Show respect for someone else’s religion. A famous scandal erupted in Anuradhapur several years ago when our tourist was sent to prison. She wanted to make a memorable photo against the backdrop of a sacred ancient Buddha statue. They say she turned her back, but I think there was something more serious.

Here is this sculpture of Buddha.

  • Dagob needs to be circumvented in a certain direction - clockwise. This is a ritual circumvention corresponding to the culture of Buddhism.

By the way, in Hinduism it is customary to make a detour also - clockwise. It is believed that witches and sorcerers, for the sake of their evil deeds, go counterclockwise.

  • To visit any religious places in Sri Lanka, we recommend dressing modestly, in accordance with Buddhist requirements: legs are closed (not shorts), shoulders are closed (not a T-shirt).
  • Remove and leave shoes in front of the temple in a designated place or put in a bag and carry with you.
  • Go barefoot into the temple. If the plates are very cold, or vice versa - heated in the sun, go in socks, but without shoes.
  • When sightseeing away from noise and roads, be careful: there may be snakes and monitor lizards in the grass.