Anuradhapura, sacred place of world Buddhist pilgrimage.
It is the capital of the north-central province of Sri Lanka and the capital of the Anuradhapura district.
Anuradhapura is also one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient civilization.
The third capital of the kingdom of Rajarata, after the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.
The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been the centre of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries and is part of the “cultural triangle”.
Here we will find Sri Maha Bodhi, taken from “Sangamitta Their” in the third century BC.
The Bodhi branch, the sacred tree descended, according to myth, from the same ficus under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
It was received with respect by King Devanampiyathissa and was planted on the prepared terrace in the garden of Mahameuna Anuradhapura.
This is treated as the oldest living tree in the world in documented history and is a place respected by Buddhists around the world.
It is believed that from the 4th century BC until the beginning of the 11th century AD was the capital of the Sinhalese.
During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centres of political power and urban life in South Asia.
The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles.
Anuradhapura was founded for the first time by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya, the founder of the Sinhalese race.
Later, the capital was made by King Pandukabhaya around 380 BC.
According to Mahavamsa, the epic story of Sinhalese history, the city of King Pandukabhaya was a model of planning.
The enclosure were reserved for hunters, scavengers, heretics and foreigners.
There were hostels and hospitals, at least one Jain chapel and cemeteries for high and low castes.
The water supply was ensured by the construction of reservoirs, artificial basins, of which what takes its name from the king himself exists to this day with the altered name of Baswakkulam.
It was during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (250 – 210 BC) that Arahat Mahinda, son of the great Buddhist emperor Asoka, led a group of missionaries from northern India to Sri Lanka.
Mahinda and his followers settled in a cave hermitage on the hill of Mihintale – the name deriving from that of Mahinda.
The new religion swept the earth with a wave.
The king himself donated the land for a large monastery in the heart of the city, which was also his royal park – the beautiful Mahamegha gardens.
The Buddhist principality had only had a century to thrive when it was temporarily overthrown by an invader from the Chola Kingdom of southern India.
Religion, however, has not received setbacks.
At this far moment on the southeastern coast,
the prince who would become the paladin of Sinhalese nationalism grew up: Dutugamunu (161-137 BC)
King Dushta Gamini was a man of singular simplicity.
He built the MIRISAVETI DAGOBA and the mighty bronze palace,
nine floors high and presented to the Mahasanga (order of monks).
But RUWANVELI DAGOBA, his most magnificent creation, did not live to see its completion.
At least two other kings of Anuradhapura must be mentioned, if only because some of the major monuments are unquestionably attributable to them.
The first of these was Vattagamani Abhaya (Valagamba) (103 and 89-77 BC) in the first year of whose reign the Chola invaders appeared again and temporarily pushed him into hiding.
For fourteen years, while five Tamil kings occupied his throne, he often wandered by taking refuge in jungle caves.
Gin an ascetic called him while passing through an ancient hermitage and mocked him “The big black lion is running away!”.
Once he regained the Kingdom, he razed the hermitage of Giri to the ground and built the monastery ABHAYAGIRI.
King Mahasena (274 – 301 AD) the heretic who built the largest Dagoba of Sri Lanka JETAWANARAMA (World Heritage Site), a very complicated irrigation system and 16 vast basins (reservoir) like MINNERIYA, which still irrigate thousands of acres of land and rice fields.
Anuradhapura would continue for six hundred more years as a national capital.
But as the protective wilderness around it diminished with prosperity and internal struggles for real succession grew.
the city was finally abandoned, becoming increasingly vulnerable to the pressures of the expansion of southern India and the capital withdrawn to more isolated places.
The monuments of its heyday still survive.
Surrounded by beauties that become the past: the solemn prowess of the trees, the silence of the cold stone and the serenity of the repairing sky.
The archaeological site of Anuradhapura, with its 40 square kilometers, is one of the largest in the world.
The many ruins can be divided into 3 types:
- The Dagoba (or stupa), are bell-shaped buildings, made of brick, with dimensions ranging from a few meters to 340 meters in circumference.
Among the most important are Thuparama, one of the oldest, Ruvanveliseya, the most revered and the two giants Jetavanarama and Abhayagiriya.
- The Monasteries, of which columns, platforms and foundations have been found.
Perhaps the most famous is the Bronze Palace, built around 164 BC. by King Dutugemunu, who seems to have a thousand rooms decorated with precious stones and silver, divided over 9 floors
- the Pokuna, or the tanks that provided drinking water to the city
In Anuradhapura there is also Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred fig tree, which originated from a bud of the tree under which the Buddha was illuminated.
The seedling, descended from the sacred tree, was brought to Sri Lanka in the third century BC. by the daughter of the Indian emperor Asoka, Theri Sangamitta, who also founded an order of Buddhist nuns and King Devanampiya Tissa had it planted in the gardens of Mahāmeghavana.
The temple of Isurumunuya is another magical place, completely carved out of the rock.
Sri Lanka is indeed the perfect place for children and for people who like animals and nature.
This country is incredibly green.
It is impossible not to find elephant herds on safari or even on the same road traveling.
It is also very easy to see leopards, macaques and other types of monkeys, giant squirrels, jackals, etc. etc
Furthermore, walking with children and adults through the Peradeniya Botanical Garden is a delight. Along with the giant trees and millions of plants, we will also find monkeys and other animals in this immense place.