Once one of the grandest monastic cities world has ever seen, a sacred city for Buddhists all around the world and a treasure of Sri Lanka’s great heritage, today Anuradhapura is a UNESCO world Heritage site.
You will be surprised at the scale of ancient Anuradhapura. It is the home for the “Eight Great Places of veneration”, which Buddhists consider need to be worshipped at least once in a lifetime, or more often as one can. The sacred Bo tree grown from the original tree, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, tops all the scared sites in this city. It is also said to be world’s oldest tree. “Ruwanvalisaya” is the biggest Dagoba in the world and only second to the great pyramid of Egypt in height. Formerly the third tallest structure in the world, red-bricked “Jetavanaramaya” is another wonder of ancient Sri Lankan archaeology. Ruins of the Brazen Palace – once a bronze tiled roof, nine-storey structure with 1,000 rooms with it’s 1,600 granite pillars, stand grand still after centuries as to showcase the belief among Sri Lankans that it’s plan was brought from heaven.
Apart from these sites “Samadhi statue”, Isurumuni Temple and Kuttam Pokuna are most commonly visited in Anuradhapura. Samadhi statue said to be one of the best pieces of sculpture in the world. This 8 feet statue of meditating Buddha is considered as a symbol of calmness by many around the world. Jawaharlal Nehru, a great leader in the Indian history, found solace and strength in a photograph of this statue when he was imprisoned. The Isurumuniya rock temple is the house to famous sculpture of Isurumuniya lovers. Kuttam Pokuna or “twin baths” with their well preserved stone steps stand for this grand city once it was.
Anuradhapura is nestled between three vast reservoirs; Basawakkulama, Tissa Wewa and Nuwara Wewa. These are living testaments to the engineering skills of the ancient rulers and sophisticated irrigation systems developed in the era. The raised bunds of the tanks are prefect for an evening stroll and some bird-watching, with great views of the dagobas and surrounding lush greenery.
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