The Sacred Heritage City of Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and was once a thriving capital city of Sri Lanka. This ancient city is located in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province and is accessible by rail or road from Colombo. The city of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most sacred cities in Buddhism due to its well-preserved ruins that date back to the 10th century BC. There are dozens of attractions to see at Anuradhapura, but these are some of the highlights:
Legend has it that Sangamitta, the daughter of an Indian Emperor, came to Anuradhapura in the 3rd Century BC. Sangamitta brought with her a cutting of the Bodhi tree, the Sacred Fig tree that Siddhartha (Buddha) sat under when he attained enlightenment. This cutting grew into the Sri Maha Bodhi, which is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world. It is surrounded by a golden railing that is covered in prayer flags brought by the many pilgrims who visit this site every weekend. It is one of the most important monuments at Anuradhapura because it represents the reason behind the construction of this ancient city.
The Jethawanaramaya Stupa is a temple among the ruins that was covered in jungle up until the early 1900’s. After a century of conservation and reconstruction that is still ongoing, this 400 ft stupa is almost back to its former glory. At the time of its construction the Jethawanaramaya Stupa was the third tallest structure in the world, behind The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The Jethawanaramaya Stupa was constructed with over 9 million bricks and is a wonderful representation of the ingenuity of the ancient Sri Lankan people.
Fun fact: The Jethawanaramaya Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, is the tallest brick structure in the world!
The sacred heritage city of Anuradhapura remains a major Buddhist religious centre to this day. A visit to this fascinating Sri Lankan city should be on every serious traveler’s bucket list.
Written by Jessica Galbraith