If someone asks you what journey you were most amazed on or what journey you felt the most as a Sri Lankan, definitely “The Anuradhapura Kingdom” which is an Ancient capital in Sri Lanka will be among your answers. Now it has become a main stop in any tour. Anuradhapura is an ancient city that is famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization. Someone who has gone & watched the historical places in Anuradhapura knows how proud we should be about our forefather’s architecture, power of thinking, and technology.
History of Anuradhapura
According to the Mahavamsa, Anuradhapura was the first capital of Sri Lanka in the 4th century BC. King Pandukabhaya was the founder of Anuradhapura however when Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka, king Dewanampiyatissa was ruling this kingdom. During the past king’s time, the Anuradhapura kingdom was enriched by architecture, massive water management systems, art, massive statues, stupa, vihara, and irrigation tanks.
Anuradhapura came into eminence after Buddhism was introduced to the island in the 3rd Century BC during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa. He built the country’s first stupa here, the Thuparamaya, which is said to house a relic of the Buddha, his right collarbone. King Tissa also arranged the planting of the sacred Bo sapling brought to the country by Princess Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka of India. Today, it is the venerated Sri Maha Bodhi, which is considered the oldest living tree in the world. Also King Devanampiya Tissa was credited for building Tissa wewa. It supplies a huge distribution for inland agriculture even today.
This kingdom had fallen many times for encroaching armies from India, but King Dutugemunu in the 2ndCentury BC built the Anuradhapura as a promised land after becoming the emperor of Anuradhapura kingdom. During his time, he commenced on a massive construction project which created many of the splendid statues which are visible even today. Among them are the Ruwanweliseya stupa (built to house the begging bowl of Lord Buddha), the Mirisavetiya temple, and the Lohapasada or Brazen Temple which are mind-blowing creations of King Dutugemunu.
The sacred city of Anuradhapura is located around 205 km North of Colombo. Anuradhapura is currently considered the capital city of the North Central Province and is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The vast network of ancient Buddhist temples, monasteries and, places of worship that cover over 40 Km2 s has made it a sacred site for Buddhists around the globe. Now Anuradhapura is named a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Points of interest
Sri Mahabodhi Tree
Do you know that what is the world’s oldest surviving historical tree? It’s the Sri Mahabodhi Tree in Anuradhapura. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi stands majestically at the Mahameuna Park in Anuradhapura. It was planted during the ruling time of King Devanampiyatissa. It’s the southern branch of the Sri Maha Bodhi at Bodhgaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Thero Sangamitta brought Sri Maha Bodhi to Sri Lanka. It happened on Uduvap full moon day. After that many kings built walls and gateways to protect the Sri Maha Bodhi as well as the Bodhi terrace and statues of Lord Buddha built by kings. The peaceful evening under the Sri Mahabodhi tree as you listen to the Bo leaves swaying in the breeze, you are sure to be carried away to another world.
Beautiful Thuparama Dagaba effortlessly mesmerizes all those who visit its sacred sanctuaries. Buddhists on the island revere this holy site with wholehearted devotion. Located in the Mahamewna park in Anuradhapura, this majestic dagaba portrays a deep history. Thuparamaya is believed to be the very first dagaba that was built in Sri Lanka. It dates back to the time of King Dewanampiyatissa. It is a site of great religious and cultural significance. The government of Sri Lanka has recognized the temple as an archeological site on the island. Its iconic “bell” shape dates to reconstruction in the 1840s.
Tissa Weva is an ancient irrigation tank was built by King Devanampiya Tissa (250-210 BC). The embankment of Tissa Weva is 11,000 feet long (Two miles) and 25 feet high. The width of the top of the reservoir was found to be 12 feet to 18 feet. The base of the embankment is 160 feet. Tissa Weva has an area of approximately 550 acres. It receives water through the ancient canal of Jaya Ganga, an ancient canal originating from the Kala Weva. The excess water is released to the Malwathu Oya River. The embankment of the Tissa Weva tank is approximately 3 km long. This man-made lake continues to be a major irrigation tank even today and has become an essential resource to rice farmers in the area. An evening stroll along the Tissa Weva bund is one refreshing experience full of scenic beauty that one should never miss.
By Rtr. Kasuni Dissanayake