ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28
Funday Times - Our Heritage funday times logo

Sacred city of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was made royal capital by King Pandukabhaya in 380 BC. It remained residence and royal capital for 119 successive Sinhalese kings till the year 1000 AD when it was abandoned and the capital moved to Polonnaruwa.

You will see some of the most famous monuments, the tallest dagoba of Sri Lanka, remains from palaces, temples, monasteries, ceremonial baths and the temple of the sacred Bo-tree.

This tree was grown from a sapling of the very tree under which more than 2500 years ago the Buddha found enlightenment.

With the dawn of the second century BC, adventurers from across the Palk Strait had begun to settle down in the northern coast. One such intruder called Elara, became supreme in almost whole of the North and reigned from Anuradhapura. He was later challenged by the ruler Gemunu, son of King Kavantissa. Later this independent ruler, Gemunu (Dutugemunu) of the South met in combat with Elara and the latter was killed. For the first time a single kingdom for the island arose. Dutugemunu (161-137 BC) contributed immensely for the religion of Buddhism.

Anuradhapura Kingdom lasted one thousand and five hundred years.


Some important sites in Anuradhapura

Aukana Buddha statueLocated about 50 km south of Anuradhapura, the 13 metre high statue carved out of solid granite, goes back to the 5th century, to the reign of King Dathusena.


Thuparama TempleThuparama is considered to be the oldest dagoba in Sri Lanka and is believed to enshrine the collar bone relic of Lord Buddha. The guard stones are generally found in pairs at the entrance to temples, palaces and other revered sites.


Isurumuniya LoversIsurumuniya temple built in the 3rd century B.C. is noted for its rock carvings. The best known among these is the "Lovers." Many a poet and song writer has taken inspiration from this carving to write their masterpieces. It is believed that the carving may represent Saliya the son of the great King Dutugemunu and the low-caste maiden whom he loved.


Ruwanveli Seya Popularly regarded as the greatest, and certainly the most popular among the Buddhists, of the stupas at Anuradhapura, Ruwanveli Seya, is the pride of the Great Emperor Dutugemunu. Raised in the 2nd century B.C. this dagoba is supposed to have the perfect water bubble shape. Among the many statues in the courtyard there is one that is of a larger-than-life man. This is considered to be the king himself watching his work from a respectable distance.


Abhayagiri StupaAbhayagiri is the largest monastery complex in the Anuradhapura kingdom. Founded in the second century BC by King Valagamba (also known as Vattagamini Abhaya) was an international institution by the first century AD. Covering an area of 200ha the monastery includes full components of a Buddhist temple as well as other buildings. The stupa at Abhayagiri is 108m tall and one of the tallest brick buildings of the ancient world.


Samadhi StatueThe finest Buddha sculpture in Sri Lanka the Samadhi Statue (3rd century AD) is among its many fine stone carvings.
'Sri Maha Bodhi' The sacred Bo tree was planted at Anuradhapura, where it still grows as the oldest tree with a recorded history in the world.


Jethawana MonasteryThe monastery complex is built where it is believed to be the cremation grounds of the Mahinda Thera who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Founded by King Mahasena (276 - 303AD) the stupa at 120m high was the third tallest monument in the world at the time of the fall of Roman Empire.



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