Exploring the Ancient City of Anuradhapura


A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, is a city steeped in history and culture. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a place where ancient civilization comes alive among the sprawling complexes of well-preserved ruins. Visitors from around the world come to marvel at its archaeological treasures and experience its spiritual heritage.

Historical Significance

Anuradhapura served as the capital city of the Sinhala kings for over a millennium and is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The city’s establishment dates back to the 4th century BCE and remained the nation’s capital till the 11th century CE.

Sacred City: Must-Visit Monuments and Ruins

Sri Maha Bodhi

Sri Maha Bodhi

Perhaps the most sacred of all sites is the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, grown from a cutting of the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha found enlightenment. Pilgrims from across the globe visit the tree to offer their prayers and seek blessings.

Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

The colossal Ruwanwelisaya stupa stands as a remarkable testament to ancient Sri Lankan engineering. Built by King Dutugemunu, the stupa is an iconic symbol of Buddhism and is revered for housing the Buddha’s relics.



The Jetavanaramaya stupa was once the third tallest structure in the ancient world, surpassed only by the Egyptian pyramids. The stupa, built by King Mahasena, now remains a prominent archeological treasure.

Abhayagiri Dagaba

Abhayagiri Dagaba

The Abhayagiri Vihara complex showcases an extensive monastic institution where Buddhist monks once lived and studied. The Abhayagiri Dagaba is notable for its remarkable brick construction and its diverse blend of architectural influences.

Isurumuniya Temple

Isurumuniya Temple

Famed for its rock carvings, the Isurumuniya Temple is a feast for the eyes. It’s home to the “Isurumuniya Lovers,” a sculpted depiction that attracts both art enthusiasts and romantics.

Archaeological Museum

Archaeological Museum

The Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum offers insight into the artifacts uncovered within the city. It’s an essential stop for understanding the grandeur of ancient Anuradhapuran civilization.

Nearby Hotels for a Comfortable Stay

The Lakeside at Nuwarawewa

Nestled beside the Nuwarawewa reservoir, The Lakeside is a serene retreat that offers a mix of modern amenities and natural beauty. It’s an ideal base for exploring the historic sites.

Heritage Hotel Anuradhapura

Heritage Hotel combines traditional hospitality with contemporary comforts. Its central location provides easy access to the city’s attractions.

Ulagalla by Uga Escapes

For those seeking luxury amidst nature, Ulagalla offers lavish villas set in a 150-year-old estate. It promises an exceptional stay experience with its eco-friendly practices and elegant facilities.

Forest Rock Garden Hotel

Embrace tranquility at the Forest Rock Garden Hotel, where each villa is constructed with careful attention to maintain the harmony of the surrounding landscape. The hotel reflects the architecture of Anuradhapura’s ancient kingdom.

Culinary Journey: Restaurants to Savor Local Flavors

Mangrove Garden Restaurant

Mangrove Garden offers a charming dining experience with dishes that showcase the rich spices and flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine. Their rice and curry specials are a must-try.

Big Bite Pizzeria

When in need of a western food fix, Big Bite Pizzeria is the go-to spot in Anuradhapura. Enjoy a variety of pizzas, sandwiches, and snacks in a casual setting.


Located within the prestigious Ulagalla by Uga Escapes, Bojunhala presents an upscale dining option with a focus on organic ingredients and traditional recipes.

Little Paradise Tourist Guest House and Restaurant

Enjoy homely meals at Little Paradise, which offers a selection of both local and international dishes with views of the lush gardens.

Travel Tips for Anuradhapura

Preparation is key to enjoying Anuradhapura:

  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal months are between November and March, when the weather is dry and pleasant.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and always remove shoes before entering.
  • Getting Around: Renting a bike is a great way to explore the widespread monuments at your own pace.


Anuradhapura is more than just a city; it’s a journey through Sri Lanka’s earliest history and its continuing spiritual legacy. With proper planning and a spirit of adventure, visitors can immerse themselves in the ancient city’s remarkable narrative. No matter the path you take within Anuradhapura, there are endless opportunities to witness the grandeur of a fallen empire and the timeless reverence that still endures within its ruins.

Booking a guided tour, lodging at a comfortable hotel, and sampling traditional cuisine are just parts of the Anuradhapura experience. Remember, this city is not only to be visited but to be felt with all senses, and in doing so, every traveler becomes a part of its enduring story.

1 Response

  1. March 13, 2024

    […] the heart of these sacred destinations is Anuradhapura, a central Buddhist city that embraces numerous temples and stupas. As visitors walk through this […]

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