When you visit the sacred city of Anuradhapura there are many places of worship to see and a visit to the Cultural Triangle which is a world heritage site is a must-see. Usually, a 4-day trip would suffice but if you are really going to see all these places of worship it would be good to have to spend a week so that you can visit all the wildlife sanctuaries as well, including hotels and the elephant passage where elephants actually walk through the Hotel passage. Here are some of the sacred places of pilgrim sites for your visit. So, let us discuss what are the things to do in Anuradhapura in detail.
Things to do in Anuradhapura-
Mihintale is a very high mountain peak where a Buddhist monk by the name of Mahinda Thero came to Sri Lanka from India. Here he met King Devanam Piyatissa in a meeting atop The the Mihintale Rock. Hence this day was on a full moon poya day in the month of June and this was the spot and day that Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka and preached by Mahinda Thero to the King and his disciples. Thus today Mihintale is the most revered place of worship for all Buddhist pilgrims. It is a beautiful place to visit especially at night when the whole mountainside illuminating with lights.
Isurumuniya is a Buddhist Temple. If you are going to visit Anuradhapura, the sacred city, then this is a must-visit destination. The water tank, “Tissa Wewa” is pretty much closer to this temple. The King Devanampiya Tissa has built this water tank centuries ago. This temple has 4 carvings one of which is very popular and called the “Isurumuniya lovers,” the other carving is found in the Temple is an elephant pond and Sinhala Royal family. The name Isurumuniya comes from a nearby village or as mentioned in ancient Chronicles
The Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba
When considering the Ruwanwelisaya Temple, it is magnificent in all it’s the glory. A must visit the site during the evening dusk as the sun goes down and the Dagoba is bathed in golden yellow by moonlight. As you sit and meditate in this quiet and tranquil beauty. Your worries and stress are washed away and replaced by a calm mind body and soul. You feel at peace when at Ruwanwelisaya.
The Ruwanwelisaya is the most revered and worshipped place in Anuradhapura. Pilgrims of all walks of life come to worship at the Ruwanwelisaya. The pure white of the Dagoba has a freeze of 344 elephants standing shoulder to shoulder to protect the Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba. This awe-inspiring Dagoba was built by King Dutugamunu. The Ruwanwelisaya is one of the eight places of worship in Sri Lanka. The Pinnacle is 338 ft tall. It is said that the Lord Buddha’s sacred relics are enshrined in this most venerable Dagoba known as the Ruwanwelisaya.
The Sacred Jayasri Maha Bodi
The Jayasri Maha Bodi is a sacred Bo tree in the garden of Mahamewna Uyana (park) in the city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is said that the sacred Bo tree is a branch brought down from India from the Sri Maha Bodi tree at Buddha Gaya in India. The Sri Maha Bodi in Buddha Gays is where Lord Buddha is supposed to have attained Enlightenment. The Sri Maha Bodi tree is about 288 years old and the most sacred and venerated tree in the world where thousands of worshippers flock to this site during the full moon poya days and other Buddhist festivals. The tree was brought by Emperor Asoka ‘s daughter Sangamitta Theri and planted by King Devananpiya Tissa. 288 years ago.
The temple called the Abayagiri Vihara
The Abayagiri Vihare is breathtakingly beautiful at night and is part of the ancient 5000 strong monasteries. This Monastery was about 100 meters in height. It was so tall in height that it was even compared to the Egyptian Giza pyramid. It was built by King Walagambaya.
Jethavanaramaya is a Stupa or Pinnacle of an ancient Dagoba. It is located in the Jethavanaramaya Monastery in Anuradhapura. When considering the height, it is 400 ft in height and built by King Mahasena of Anuradhapura. It is believed that part of Lord Buddha’s Sash is enshrined in this Dagoba. This is an ancient Stupa built by Kings and renovated by the archeological department of Sri Lanka.
The Thuparamaya Temple
King Devanampiya Tissa during his reign in ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during the year 247 BC built the Thuparamaya. This is one of the first temples built in the Mahameuna Park Anuradhapura the then capital of Sri Lanka or Ceylon. This was also the time when Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. The name Thuparamaya meant Thupa – Stupa, and Aramaya which was a residential abode for Buddhist monks to meditate and pray.
The Lovamahapaya is a massive structure or mansion of those times. Now only the structure remains to be seen. The roof was made out of copper plates. The mansion is said to have had a 1000 rooms and 100 windows. Mahinda Thero who brought Buddhism to Ceylon instructed King Devanampiya Tissa to build this building which was known as a chapter house. Later King Dutugamunu added to the construction a massive 9 storied building. Today all that remains is a structure and pillars which are to be seen. In the past, crafters have used precious stones and gems studded all around the building. Moreover; copper plates was a key building material for the roof of this building.
The Mirisawetiya Dagoba is beautiful at night. Just like the Ruwanwelisaya. This Dagoba is also in the holy city of Anuradhapura. Built by King Dutugamunu. The Buddha’s relics are preserved in this Dagoba. It is said that King Dutugamunu went to have a bath at the Tissa Wewa and left the Sceptre standing nearby. When he came back and tried to take it out it could not be shifted. So then the King decided to build the Mirisawetiya Dagoba on that very spot where the Sceptre was. The Sceptre contained the relics of Lord Buddha’s hair. This sacred relic was brought during the time of King Moggalana. The name Mirisawetiya came from when the King forgot to offer chilies to monks. Thus came the name of Mirisawetiya.
The Lankarama Dagoba
The Lankarama Dagoba was built by King Walagambaya in a place in Anuradhapura city. It has a pond which is called the elephant pond. Nothing much is said about this Dagoba. King Walagambaya is supposed to have hidden here when Invaders came to take the city. Here the King hid and planned his attack to chase the Invaders away which he won and paved the way for him to be King and to cherish his memories of this place he built the Lankarama Dagoba. Lots of history is here. A must-visit place is the Lankarama Temple.
The Samadi statue
Ancient Sinhala crafters have sculptured this Buddha statue using marble stone. This Buddha statue is in a seated position which is in a meditative mode which highlights the Buddha’s Enlightenment. This Statue is one of the most worshipped stature or sculpture in the 3rd century. The statue stands at 7ft. In height. Local people found this statue when fallen on the ground in 1886 and then they restored but not to its original beauty.
The Kuttam Pokuna – Twin Ponds
These are two ancient ponds or water pools found in the city of Anuradhapura and built by the Sinhala people. The purpose of making this pond is just to irritate the surrounding paddy fields and park nearby. It was considered to be of a high achievement of water irrigation and engineering and of high class architectural and artistic creations of those times. Buddhist monks have used the ponds for bathing as well.
The Sandakada Pahana
The Sandakada Pahana is a half moonstone. This amazing creation comprises of very elaborately carved lions and horses and branches and leaves and fire and water which represents the cycle of life and death preached in Buddhism.
The Ranmasu Uyana
The Ranmasu Uyana is a park or Royal Gardens. It is located close to Tissa Wewa and Isurumuniya Temple. The Tissa Wewa supplies the water to this park and then used to irrigate paddy fields. These ponds and garden were during the reign of King Tissa.