Anuradhapura is an ancient royal city and is situated in the northern central part of the country. Much of the city is covered in ruins from when Anuradhapura was one of the highlights of Sri Lanka, and there are temples, stupas and historic sites dotted all over the place. Incidentally the whole of Anuradhapura is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which tells you something about this city’s historical and cultural significance.
Ten kilometers outside of Anuradhapura lies the village of Mihintale, and although the village itself doesn’t have much going on, it is best known for its famous temple complex. According to the legend, this is the place where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka and so there a collection of stupas and religious monuments built here to commemorate its historical significance. If you come here make sure to climb the rock that also sits on this complex to take in the gorgeous views over the village.
The Ruwanweliseya stupa is considered by many travelers to be one of the highlights of a trip to Anuradhapura. The building is made up of a stupa with an iconic white dome and there are some pretty carvings of elephants and such, although these are not the originals. If you come here make sure to take in the surrounding area which is made up of lush green parkland dotted with pools and water features and is perfect for an afternoon walk.
Sri Maha Bodhi Temple
The Sri Maha Bodhi Temple is known for being the home of the Buddhist sacred tree under which the Buddha is said to have sheltered. To add to its significance, the tree is also claimed to be the oldest in the world. The tree is now a site for worshippers to pray and make offerings at and the best time to come here is around sunset when the whole complex takes on a magical feeling in the early evening light.
Anuradhapura is known for its ruins, and this is one of the most beautiful sights in all of South Asia. The complex that contains the ruined former royal city is vast and full of buildings and monuments of historical and cultural significance, so if you love architecture and archeology then you mustn’t miss this city off your itinerary.