Eight Sacred Places in Anuradhapura

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Anuradhapura was once the capital kingdom of Sri Lanka (377 BC – 1017 AD) and flourished under the reign of King Pandukabhaya. The sacred city is approximately 201 km away from Colombo via the A28 route. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, the city attracts pilgrims and tourists from Sri Lanka and world over. 

Anuradhapura is also an ideal location for an educational trip. So here are a few reasons as to why you should visit the city, if you haven’t already.

Accommodation

Looking for places to stay? There are many budget hotels in Anuradhapura and the choices are endless. Whether you want a homestay, guest house or five star-hotel, they have it all. Despite being seemingly away from the hustle and bustle of Colombo, the sacred city has an endless number of unbelievable accommodation options. We do suggest however, that you opt for larger bungalow-type setups or even when travelling with large groups of people. 

So you got to Anuradhapura and have you mapped out what you want to see? The places to visit in Anuradhapura are extensive because of its culture, history and heritage. We have limited it down to the most important eight places you should not missed out on if you are in the sacred city.

Eight Sacred Places also known as Atamasthana

The eight places in Anuradhapura or Atamasthana are also the main sites in Anuradhapura

  • Jaya Sri Maha BodhiyaPlanted in 288 BC this is a branch from the Sri Maha Bodhi Bodhgaya, India where Buddha gained enlightenment. History recalls the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya as the sacred fig tree as the oldest living human-planted tree in the world. The wall was built during the time of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha as protection from wild elephants.
  • Ruwanwelisaya – Construction of this temple was initiated by King Dutugemunu who didn’t live to see its completion. Some also call it the Swarnamali Chaitya and it is among the tallest stupas in the world .
  • Lovamahapaya is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya as it has a roof of bronze tiles. Initially built by King Dutugemunu, the structure currently has only remains of the 1600-column structure. Archaeological evidence tells us that the structure once had nine storeys and would have accommodated least 1,000 monks.
  • Thuparamaya was  built during the time of King Devanampiya Tissa (247-207 BC) and was one of the first dagobas built after the introduction of Buddhism.
  • Abhayagiri Dagaba was built by King Valagamba during his second reign of succession. The dagoba is among the most immense ruin structures in the world.
  • Jetavanarama at 400 ft is recorded as the tallest stupa in the ancient world. The construction began with by King Mahasen and his son Maghavanna I saw through its completion.
  • Mirisawetiya Stupa that was constructed by King Dutugemunu after defeating Chola King Elara.
  • Lankarama that is another another stupa built by King Valagamba.

Fun fact: History believes that Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanwelisaya and Lovamahapaya may have once been a part of the Great temple.

These are the a few must-see places especially for Buddhist pilgrims. Here is another list if you want to see more Buddhist places of importance.

Nastashia Ekanayake - Yoho Creator

Nastashia Ekanayake is a travel enthusiastic who enjoys travelling solo when budget and time permit. Having currently moved back to Sri Lanka, she functions as an administration professional by day and wanderer and foodie by night. She enjoys journaling her adventures, exploring the joys of Instagram and looking up her next travel destination.