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Home > Discovery Top Attractions > Ancient Anuradhapura

Ancient Anuradhapura

Arugam BayAnuradhapura , the first kingdom or the most ancient capital city of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).

The restored remains of ancient Anuradhapura city ,considered as an UNESCO World Heritage site, are dotted amidst peaceful parks to the north and west of the modern city .The heritage ruined site today consists of royal palaces, monasteries, Dagobas/Stupas topped by glittering jewels, houses of two or three storied, shops, pleasure gardens, bathing pools and wooded parks.

Among the ruins, soaring towards the sky, the magnificent brick monuments: Stupas, emerged in the monasteries, were tallest buildings in the ancient world, are the central edifices of the UNESCO site. Stupas of 1st c. BC Abhayagiri and 3rd c. AD Jetawana,( both around 120 meters high ) second in height only to Egypt's mightiest pyramids at Giza.

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Sri Maha Bodhi or the sacred bo tree( Ficus religiosa ), supported by iron crutches in the Mahavihare monastery, grew from a sapling taken over 2,200 years ago from the very same tree under which Lord Buddha gained enlightenment .The tree is believed have been the oldest historically documented tree on earth.

The Brazen Palace so called because it once had a bronze roof, stands close to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree. The remains of 1600 columns are all that is left of this huge palace, said to have had nine storeys and accommodation for 1000 monks and attendants.

The finest of the carved stone figures of the site are the protecting gateways or Guard stones, at the pavilion of Ratna Prasada and superbly crafted semi-circular stone: Moonstone set at the base of the stairs nearby, at the Queen's Pavilion.

The Isurumuniya Rock Temple is renowned for its ancient bas-relief sculptures, including those known as The Lovers, The Horseman and a group of elephants playing in water.

No less than three vast irrigation lakes, which remain to this day, nourished the agriculture of ancient Anuradhapura, which offers numerous other fascinating sites. 

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