Anuradhapura is the most ancient city of Sri Lanka and it is the city with some of the most impotent historical attractions in the country. The history of this deep-rooted city of Sinhalese civilization is going back many years before the Christy. Therefore Anuradhapura is a part of almost in every Sri Lanka road trip.
Anuradhapura is the capital of the north-central province of Sri Lanka, It is about 205 km to Anuradhapura from Colombo, and it lies north of Colombo. Anuradhapura is the most populated city in the North-central province of Sri Lanka. The city lies on the Colombo-Jaffna main road and allows easy access to travellers coming from any part of the island.
Anuradhapura ancient city
Anuradhapura is the capital of the north-central province of Sri Lanka, It is about 205 km to Anuradhapura from Colombo, and it lies north of Colombo. It is the most populated city on the way to Jaffna from Kandy or Colombo on A9 road. The city lies on the Colombo-Jaffna main road and allows easy access to travellers coming from any part of the island. Travellers who coming from Kandy and east coast can travel to historical via Dambulla.
Visitors should pay the entrance fees before entering the sacred city. The cost of entrance is USD 25 for adults USD 12.5 for children. The entrance tickets for the sacred city can be bought at the entrance.
The extent of the historical city is about 50 hectares and a large amount of travelling required for anyone who wishes to explore this historical city. A large number of monuments are spreading in the city of Anuradhapura, therefore travellers who wish to explore the city should allocate at least about a half a day of their allotted time for the tour. Depending on the travelling time between sites the time required here differed. Having a private transport option such as a car is the best way to explore the city. Therefore you can save time on travelling and avoid oppressive heat of the dry zone sun as well as dusty wind in the city. Travelling by Bicycle is the most affordable option within the historical city but travelling on the dusty road will be difficult.
History of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is an ancient city with well-preserved ruins of ancient civilization. Anuradhapura was established in 4th century B.C by King Pandukabhaya and it was the first capital of the country. Anuradhapura is the sacred city, with Jayasri maha Bodhi (sacred tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment). Anuradhapura is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO owing to its historical and religious importance to the world. Anuradhapura had been a large city and it was around 10km² in extent. It laid out with well-organized road network, palaces, religious buildings, schools, parks, cemeteries for low and high casts etc. there had been a well-planned water supply system with Tanks, reservoirs, and well laid canal system, Tissawewa, Abhayawewa, Basawakkulam are few huge reservoirs that were used for the water management in the city. These tanks were built in the Pre-Christian era and still being used today.
During 1300 years, as it was the capital of the country, it came under many South Indian invasions. Tamils, Pandyan and Cholas invaded the city destroying the most of the religious buildings, palaces and other important properties in the city. The city lost its function as the capital in 10th century A.D in the result of the South Indian invasions. Most of the monuments were restored after the regaining the power from the invaders. But the city was abandoned by Sri Lankan monarchy after the invasion by Chola Rajaraja in 993 making the Polonnaruwa 2nd capital, owing to its militarily and politically strategic location in the region. When Anuradhapura was abandoned in 993 cities encroached by the jungle hiding it for many centuries.
Anuradhapura was predominantly a Buddhist city and considered to be the cradle of the Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Buddhism was introduced in 250 B.C during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, converting the King to Buddhism recorded being the first Buddhist mission in the country. Second Buddhist mission also took place 3rd Century B.C, in which nun Sangamitta brought a sampling of Bo-tree from Bodghaya to the country. Sri Maha Bodhi was received with great respect by King Devanampiyatissa and planted in the royal pleasure garden. Buddhism considered as the state religion since the advent of Buddhism in the country and majority of the people in the country believes in Buddhism. Anuradhapura is partaking with all these significant events of country’s history.
The arrival of Buddhism had made a huge impact on the civilization. There had been a revival in all angels of the life. Ayurveda medicine, architecture, language, arts and craft, irrigation system and literature all these aspects were enriched and enhanced with the incoming knowledge from India. Mirisaweti Dagoba, Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, Brazen Palace, Baddasima pasada, Shiwa Devala and Jetawanarama Dagoba are few of the huge Buddhist monuments resulted in after the advent of Buddhism.
Today Anuradhapura is the main city in the north-central province and most important historical city in the island. Anuradhapura draws tens of thousands of tourists every year owing to its significance as one of the oldest cities in the world.
Destruction of Anuradhapura – 1846 – 866
The Tamils had been very busy settling themselves safely in Sri Lanka during many years and soon after ascending the throne King Sena 1 (1846 – 866), was compelled to give up Anuradhapura as his capital altogether. Then he chose Polonnaruwa as his capital which had been built up in the meanwhile by some of the kings. Polonnaruwa remained the capital of Lanka for the following 130 years, and then later on again for more than one hundred years.
According to the historical evidence that King Sena 1 possessed great riches and he was very generous, he considered his subjects as his children. He even treated birds and beasts and fishes with consideration and he gave alms to the poor and needy. His wife, Queen Sangha, was also a very good and beautiful woman, and the people of Lanka would have been quite happy if the Tamils had not come again in great numbers and begun to ravage the northern part of the island.
Even the king of Pandya came himself with a great army and when the Tamils, who dwelt in the island, saw the Tamil king so stately and gorgeously attired, sitting on his magnificent elephant, going to war against the Sinhalese king, they all gathered around him and his army became larger every day. It grew so large and strong that the Sinhalese army, under the King’s brother, Mihindu and Kasyapa could not stand against it.
Mihindu killed himself when he saw that there was no possibility of victory, and Kasyapa after very bravely trying to overcome the Tamils, almost single-handed, and to make up thus for his brother’s weakness, had to give up. He had to leave Anuradhapura to its fate.
And now the Pandyans began to plunder and ruin everything. They destroyed the king’s palace and robbed its wealth. They pulled down the golden covering of the Thuparama. They destroyed the brazen palace. They stole the jewels from the treasury. They mutilated the statues in order to get the jewels with which they were adorned. They melted the golden images. They broke the Pokunas (baths). They made some of the tanks useless and they left the city of Anuradhapura desolate. The poor beautiful “Queen of cities” in Lanka lay in ruins.
History says they made Lanka of no value whatsoever. When all this had been done, the King of Pandya sent messengers to King Sena 1 that he was willing to make a peace treaty with him. Sena 1 received his messengers very kindly. He made peace with the Pandyan King so that he left Lanka with his army.
Now the enemies were gone, but the desolation, which they left behind, the city, was in ruins and it was not possible over to restore it to its former grandeur again. Besides, almost all the King’s treasures were gone and all the rich Sinhalese were reduced to poverty.
King sena 1 tried very hard to do all he could to bring prosperity to the island. But the King made very meagre progress as far as development is the concern, owing to the dilapidated strength and wealth of the country. It was reported that the King grieved towards the end of his reign by seeing Anuradhapura in ruins.
Places to stay in Anuradhapura
Since the Anuradhapura is visited by a large number of tourists every year and which is a major part of the cultural triangle, the tourism infrastructure is well developed here. Finding places to stay in Anuradhapura for travellers who wish to experience this historical city is not a daunting task, especially for people who travel on a tight budget. But there is a scarcity of star class accommodations within the city and finding a star class hotel will be a difficult task within the city of Anuradhapura. Even though there are not many options left for travellers, who look for luxury accommodation within Anuradhapura, plenty of opportunities awaits surrounding cities such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, Habarana.
Travellers can find any type of accommodation from homestay accommodation to luxurious hotels and villas in nearby cities such as Habarana, Sigiriya and Dambulla. All of these cities are only 30 minutes drive away from the sacred city. Most travellers who wish to explore Anuradhapura and other historical sites in the cultural triangle base mostly in above-mentioned cities. It allows them to reach all the important sites such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura even east coast within a short period of time.
Places to go in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Sri Maha Bodhi
The Sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is considered as the oldest recorded surviving historical tree in the world. The tree is called “Bo tree” and the Botanical name known as “Ficus Religiosa”, which is a giant tree of Ficus family. Historical information’s from India as well as Sri Lanka suggest that the Bo-tree was brought to the island during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa 244 BC. Bo-tree was brought to the island by Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahamegha Uyana or royal pleasure garden in Anuradhapura. This sapling of Bo-tree was received by the king and planted in the Mahamegha Uyana, Royal pleasure garden to the south of the city of Anuradhapura. It is said the great ceremony was performed with the planting of the Bo-tree. It is a sapling of Bo-tree in Buddha Gaya, India under which Buddha attained Enlightenment in 6th Century B.C.
The historical chronicles such as Mahawamsa, Chulawamsa, and Bodhiwamsa provide the elaborate descriptions of the establishment of the Bodhi-tree in the island. Bodhi means the wisdom that understands the Four Noble Truths. Thus the tree which helped Buddha to attain enlightenment or achieve wisdom is called Bodhi tree.
According to the historical information’s, Thera sangamitta started her journey from the port of Tamralipti south India, at the mouth of the Ganges. She was landed in Jambukola Patuna (ancient port in Northern Sri Lanka). From the beginning of the journey to the landing at Jambukola Patuna, it is one full of descriptions of important events.
According to Mahawamsa or the great chronicle, which was written in 6th Century A.D, the ship, which was bringing the sacred sapling of Bo-tree ventured forth into the sea. A yojana around the waves of the great ocean was stilled. Lotus flowers of five different colours blossomed all round and heard music in the air. The journey which had been six days long and many offerings were also done by Devas and Nagas, while it was in the sea. The sapling of sacred Bo-tree arrived in the island on the last day of the week.
On hearing the arrival of the sacred sapling or Bo-tree in the island, the king had ordered to decorate the road from the Jambukola Patuna to the capital of the island (Anuradhapura). The king with his splendid retinue marched in a celebratory procession and arrived at Samuddapannasala (the sea hut) in Jambukola on the same day to receive the Bodhi sapling.
It is said the joyful king, seeing the arriving great Bodhi sapling and though full of anxiety, walked even neck deep into the sea with nobles of sixteen families. Placing the sacred Bodhi sapling on his head the king of Lanka walked back on to the shore and placed it on a beautifully decorated pavilion. The king himself worshipped the Bodhi sapling by bestowing his kingdom and innumerable offerings were also made for many days and nights.
Today the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is the second most sacred and venerated spot in the island. Its importance is not restricted to only the Buddhist around the world but also to the whole world who celebrates its fame as the oldest recorded tree in the world.
The Sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is reckoned as the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with the known planting date in 288 BC.
The recent discovery of 2000 years old hospital
Sri Lankan archaeologists have been able to make another useful discovery pertaining to the history Sri Lanka. Ruins of a two thousand years old hospital were discovered in the historical city of Anuradhapura. The recent discovery is a valuable evidence to prove the existence of an advance health care system in ancient Sri Lanka. The hospital believed to have used the Ayurveda medicine.
Earlier an Ayurveda hospital that dates back to more than 2000 years was discovered in the historical city of Mihintale, near Anuradhapura. The recent discovery is made near one of the oldest dagobas in the country, which known as Thuparama, in Anuradhapura. Archaeologist opines that initial constructions of the hospital started in the 3rd century BC.
The hospital had been well planned and was consisting of medical rooms, treatment rooms, spas and separate rooms for the production of medicine. The equipment used for the preparation of medicine such as grinding stones and knives were also discovered at the site. There is a well-laid latrine among the discoveries. Recently ruins of another hospital with similar age discovered at Anuradhapura Maha Vihara Temple complex. The site is under excavation at the moment, under the supervision of the archaeological department.
Isurumuniya is one of the most important Buddhist religious as well as tourist attractions in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Even though Isurumuniya is not one of the eight holy places within the borders of Anuradhapura, it is visited by thousands of foreign and local travellers every day. Isurumuniya is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the island. And it is dating back to 3rd century BC. The temple is located in a very suitable environment for a Buddhist temple. The surrounding area is very calm and quiet enabling the monks to have peace of mind and concentrate on religious activities such as meditation.
Isuruimuniya rises in between the Tisa wewa (reservoir) and a beautiful paddy field. On the day that we visited Isurumuniya, a lot of people was harvesting the paddy. The temple is built on a spacious garden with rocky outcrop. The first sight of the temple for people, who enters through the main gate of Isurumuniya, is a gigantic boulder that rises up to about 10 meters. Several important parts of the temple such as Dagoba and Sripatula (footprint of Buddha) are located on the boulder. A flight of steps carved on the rock leads the visitors to the top of the rock. One can have an awe-inspiring bird eye view over the surrounding area from the summit of the rock.
The name of Isurumuniya has derived from the Pali term Issara-samnarama or Issara samana vihara. The location of the temple believed to be the spot, where noblemen were ordained as monks by Mahinda Thera (monk Mahinda). The beginning of Isurumuniya temple is attributed to King Devanampiyatissa. As the tooth relic was brought from India, it was temporarily kept in Isurumuniya for a brief period of time. Therefore Isurumuniya is one of the few temples that are purified by the touch of the tooth relic of Buddha. Other than being one of tooth relic temples, it is the home for one of the first eight saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi, most holy tree on the island. The Bo-tree can be seen in the temple even today and it is estimated to be more than 2000 years old.
Other than being one of the most historical religious sites, Isurumuniya showcases some of the most outstanding artistic works of the ancient Sinhalese artisans. Some of the popular sculptures found in Isurumuniya are the Isurumuniya lovers and the royal family. Both these sculptures are exhibited in the museum along with many other great artistic examples. Even though this sculpture is identified as a royal family, some archaeologists believe it to be the Bodhisattva figure with his wife and followers. This opinion is further strengthening the way the legs of the male figure are positioned in the sculpture.
Right after the entrance, on the right-hand side is a big pound with two valuable sculptures. One is a group of elephants bathing in the pond and the other is a man and a horse head behind him. According to Prof. Paranawithana these two figures (man and the horse) are representing Parjanya (God of rain) and Agni (the horse of Parjanya).
Attractions in Anuradhapura – Museum
The historical monuments in the city are scattered over a large area and you need many hours to explore even the most important places. Since it takes a lot of time, most tourists try to see as much as historical places within their short stay in the city and purposely bypass the important places such as museums while some other visitors are not aware of museums.
There are several museums within the borders of Anuradhapura and Anuradhapura archaeological museum is the most visited museum in Anuradhapura. Large numbers of artefacts are stored in the museum and it can takes days to explore a large number of exhibits, for a person who is interested in the history of Sri Lanka.
The museum is housed in a building on the road to the Ruwanweliseya Dagoba. One can see a large number of stone inscriptions, stone pillars and various other stone carvings on the premises of the museum. Even though the most artefacts in the museum are discovered in Anuradhapura, there is a large number of various artefacts found in various other places in Sri Lanka. A separate spacious building is constructed to house the important stone sculptures. The number of sculptures exceeds many hundreds and they belong to the various periods in the history.
Anuradhapura archaeological museum was founded in 1895 under the British administration. But the modern museum is housed in a new building, which was built in 1960. The main building of the museum is built after the typical Sri Lanka architecture of 19th century. One can see a large number of granite stones with the footprint of Buddha, Buddha statues in different postures, stupas, ancient paintings, Hindu sculptures, various metal objects, floral designs, stone pillars, ancient coins, weapons and terracotta items in the collection. Most of the Buddha statues are in the standing posture, numbering 21.
One of the very valuable exhibits of the museum is the copies of the paintings found in Mahiyangana Stupa and Mihintale Stupa. Nataraja sculpture, Ganesh, Parvati, Agni, Sun God, Nagini, Brahma, and Indra are the most occurring Hindu God figures in the museum. Various archaeological items found at the twin pond of Anuradhapura are also included in the collection with many other Guard stones, Moonstones, dwarf figures, tiles, and drainage pipes.
The museum is a 2 storied building with wooden upper floor and spacious verandah. There is a large number of metal sculpture, terracotta items, and old coins can be seen on the upper floor of the museum.
Aukana Buddha Statue
Aukana Buddha statue is considered being one of the masterpieces of Images of Buddha in ancient Sri Lanka. This image of Buddha is situated in Anuradhapura district near a small, picturesque village called Nagampaha. The Buddha statue is close to Kekirawa city on the Kandy–Jaffna main road. This massive Buddha statue is built on the east bank of the Kalawewa (Kalawewa Lake) facing the lake and against shining sun. From the top of the temple, one can have a magnificent view of the surrounding vegetation and small villages.
Aukana is an important pilgrimage as well as an archaeological site for Buddhist in the island. One can see the remnant of a roof of the Buddha statue. It had been built using bricks and placed above the stone walls. The roof was destroyed at the time of discovery of the statue. And the roof which was built in 1976 removed later while it did not match the statue. Now it can be seen as it was found in 1895.
Aukana Buddha statue is one of the biggest standing Buddha statues in Sri Lanka. The rest of the statues are Rasvehera Buddha statue, Maligavila Buddha statue, Buduruwagala Buddha statue and the Buddha statue at Dova temple in Bandarawela. All these Buddha statues are hew out of granite stone. The statues of Dova rock temple and Buduruwagala considered being in Bas-relief. Aukana and Raswehera Buddha statues are carved in a rounded style. There are different opinions among the archaeologists calculating the beginning of Aukana Buddha statue. It has been dated to the 4th, 5th, 8th, 11th, and 12th centuries A.D.
Well known archaeologist Mr.Paranavithana claims that the Buddha statue was done in 2nd half of the 5th century A.D. And statue was hew during the rule of king Dhatusena (459-477). King had ordered his artisans to build the Buddha statue facing the Kalawewa (one of the biggest man-made lakes in Sri Lanka) and both constructions of the tank and the statue to be finished simultaneously.
The height of this massive granite statue is 11.36m measuring from the Lotus pedestal to the top of the head. The estimated weight of the statue is 75-80 tons. This Buddha statue is one of the most beautiful Buddha statues in the world. It is indescribably impressive the face a perfection of benign power, confirming the blessing given by the right hand. The robe flow, if you think granite could never be made to flow, in this Buddha statue they almost move in the wind. The style of the statue shows that it belongs to one of the schools of art in Anuradhapura period.
The gigantic Kalawewa of Anuradhapura
There is no other irrigation work in such a magnitude size like Kalawewa in whole Anuradhapura district in North-central province of Sri Lanka. The water mass stored by this reservoir is capable of irrigating thousands of acres of fields throughout the year. It was not only supplying water for irrigation but also supply the water with the royal city. Even today this stupendous irrigation work is immensely utilized by the people of dry-zone. Kalawewa is located in popular holiday destination of Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura inherits great feats of ancient Sinhalese civilization, dating back to 4th century BC. Kalawewa was originated in the 5th century AD it had supplied water to Anuradhapura for more than 500 years. A giant dam, which was built across the Kala Oya holds the waters of the River and forms the Kalawewa.
The king came to the idea of creating the tank in the early days of his childhood. According to the historical evidence, the invasion of south Indian king Pandu was the reason for him to flee the city. Pandu ascended the throne and hatched a plot to assassinate the prince, the legitimate heir to the throne. The prince and his uncle fled the city for safety; they had to cross the Kalawewa with great risk and difficulty to reach a monastery south of the river. At that time uncle had told the king “Even as this river holds us back, so do thou in future time hold back its course by collecting its waters in a tank.” It was not an advice to ignore, due to the immense benefit that can be reaped upon accomplishing it. Kalawewa was one of the top most priorities of King Dhatusena after ascending the throne.
Today the Kalawewa is restored to its former glory and perform the same function as in the 5th century AD. The great King Dhatusena is attributed as the creator of Kalawewa. He had earned a reputation as a great king, a fine ruler, a brave and undulated character. But, the king had such a merciful end, only a few others destined to have such a grim end. This powerful monarch and sovereign ruler were killed by his own son, the creator of Sigiriya fortress.
Travelling on the bund of Kalawewa gives you the pleasure of enjoying the fascinated dry-zone countryside. You can spot flocks of water birds in the marshes near the bund. The sheet of endless reflecting water, Surrounding hills and the blue sky with little white clouds as the background creates an unparallel beautiful scene.
According to Chulawamsa, King was at Kalawewa, just before his death, plunged into the water, bathed and drank. Same times, the king had pointed the eyes of king’s henchmen to the waters of Kalawewa and said: “This here, my friends, is my whole wealth.” But, Kalawewa is not only the wealth of King Dhatusena but also an immense treasure of the people of dry-zone. Today, 1500 years after the origin of Kalawewa, it still serves the people in many ways and continues to be so many years in the future.
Jetawanarama had been Buddhist monastery complex in Anuradhapura. It was occupied by hundreds of Buddhist monks. The dagoba of Jetawanarama was built by King Mahasen in 3rd century AD. Jetawanarama had been tallest Buddhist monument at that time and it was the 3rd highest construction in the world. This giant dagoba is built with millions of bricks and rising up to 400 feet from the ground. The pinnacle of the dagoba is collapsed during last several centuries. Therefore it is measured to be only 231 feet tall, at present. It is believed, a piece of Buddha’s robe is enshrined in Jetawanarama dagoba. This dagoba considered as one of the greatest achievements of the ancient Sinhalese engineers.
Thuparama Dagoba is one of the oldest Buddhist constructions on the island. It was built by King Devanampiyatissa in 3rd century BC. According to the historical information the collarbone Relic of Buddha is enshrined in the dagoba. The Dagoba was renovated many times in the past and it is in good shape at present. The stone pillars around the construction were supporting the protective roof, once existed above the dagoba.
Ruwanweli seya is one of the great contributions to the Buddhist world by the great King Dutugemunu (137 BC-119 BC). This valiant king had been able to defeat the south Indian invaders and unite the country under Sinhalese ruler. The original construction was 180 feet tall and it was built after the water bubble shape. Dagoba was renovated many times since it discovered in 1800’s. Today due to the reconstructing its original shape is diminished.
Twin pond shows the thorough grasp of hydraulic principals by the engineers of Sri Lanka, way back in the 6th century AD. The ponds were used by the monks of Abhayagiri temple complex. There are two beautifully built ponds at the site. The two ponds were constructed in different periods and it can be clearly observed with the differently styled stone carvings. The bigger pond believed to be built in a later period than the smaller pond. Two ponds are inter-connected with an underground pipe at the bottom of the ponds. The water was directed to the ponds from a tank, which situated outside the city. The engineers have used the hydraulic principle to direct the water through the underground tunnel. The advanced filtering mechanisms had been in place to make sure only the clean water is coming into the tank.
Ruins of a 1st-century Buddhist temple complex
The Thuparama is the first dagoba built by King Devanapiyatissa in the 2nd century B.C. Thuparama dagoba was built in the capital of the island (Anuradhapura) at that time. This complex consisted of other ruins of the religion’s buildings within the city. Even today these ruins of this complex cover an area of nearly three and a half acres. The ancient residential quarters were situated in this area. All the ruins are covered by the boundary wall as it is seen now is about 4.6 feet. It is believed Thuparama had been the first Dagoba constructed after the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in 3rd century B.C.
Ruins of a building were discovered in the Thuparama monastery complex, which was built by King Kassapa 4 (898-914). The building is situated South-east of the Dagoba and which had been used as a hospital as it is evident by the presence of a medicinal trough. The hospital had been used to treat the sick monks. An image house of the Thuparama temple complex is located towards the south of Dagoba. This image house is a classic example of Anuradhapura period architecture. At the entrance of the image house, on either side, two guard stones suppose to be keeping the malicious influence away from the building and the moonstone at the entrance depict the Buddhist philosophy, both are constructed in 9th century A.D.
Padalachan chetiya is another building to be found on to the right side of the Dagoba. It is identified with four dagobas and the footprints of the four Buddha’s of this kalpa also can be seen. Earlier it was erroneously identified as Sangamitta chetiya. Close to the entrance of the Dagoba there had been building with a courtyard and a collection rooms. This had been the living quarters of the monks and by estimating the magnitude of the building archaeologists opine that there had been a large number of monks in the in the monastery complex.
Sadungira Raga Maha Vihara
This historical temple can be reached within a short period of time from Padeniya. One can reach the Kettapahuwa junction along the Padeniya-Anuradhapura main road. At the Kettapahuwa junction travellers need to take the narrow road that leads to the temple. Sandungira Buddhist temple is about 3 kilometres from the main road. There are several routes providing access to the temple. The temple is picturesquely located among the thick vegetation in the village of Kumbukwewa. The temple believed to be built by a regional leader called “Deva”. Sadungira Raga Maha Vihara is one of the temples in a group that religious places comprised of several temples such as Nilagiri, Devagiri, Dibulgiri, Abulgiri and Hansagiri. According to the historical information King Saddatissa had renovated the temple during the Anuradhapura period (4th century BC-11th century AD). Today the temple is a popular Buddhist attraction in the area and a large number of people visits the site every day.
Nakolagane Raja Maha Vihara
There are three routes that can be used to reach the temple. Nakolagane Raja Maha Vihara is located on the Abanpola-Ehetuwewa road. It is about 6 km from the city of Abanpola. This historical temple is blessed with a very beautiful surrounding. It is surrounded by patches of jungles, tanks, paddy fields and villages. One can enjoy the beautiful surrounding along the way to the temple. The temple houses many historically important elements such as guard stones, moon stones, footprint stones and stone carvings. Several natural caves had been used as the dwelling houses of monks in the past and drip edges can still be seen in these caves, which believed to be one of the most ancient engineering works of Sri Lanka engineers.
In order to see this beautiful lake, one needs to take a narrow road upon reaching the Amunukola junction on the Abanpola-Anuradhapura main road. It is about 4 kilometres from the main road. Siyabangamuwa Lake is one of the oldest irrigation works in the area. It was constructed by the king Mahasen (276-303 AD), in the early days, it was called Chinchinagama wewa. It is renovated in 1955. At present, the lake spread over 71 sq miles of the surface at its maximum capacity. The bund of the lake is 4700 feet in length while it irrigates 679 acres of paddy field in the area.
Sri Namalu Raja Maha Vihara
The historical temple is located about another 2 km down the road after the Siyabangamuwa Wewa. This ancient cave temple believed to be originated during the Anuradhapura period. The cave is located beneath the gigantic granite rock known as Usgala and it is about 400 feet in height. There are steps carved on the rock surface to climb to the summit of the rock. A beautiful dagoba can be seen on the top of the rock. A large number of artefacts are discovered at the site in the past. These artefacts show the characters of the early Anuradhapura period. Stone pillars, guard stones, moon stones, Buddha statues are among the discoveries.
Buduruwa Kanda Raja Maha Vihara
This is a rock cave temple is located in the district of Anuradhapura and it is about 6 km from Kala Oya. It is located on the main road providing easy access to its visitors. The temple is picturesquely located on top of a mountain. The location of the temple commands a beautiful view over surrounding mountains such as Torawamailewa, Sangappali, Hastikuchchi, Nagala, and Resvehera. Escapements, paddy fields, lakes and patches of forests enhance the natural beauty of the surrounding area of the temple.
Adiyagala Purana Raja Maha Vihara
This is a popular gigantic cave temple in the area and believed to be occupied Buddhist monks many centuries before. A large number of artefacts was discovered at the site. Moonstones, guard stones, stone pillars, and inscriptions, stone carvings are some of the noteworthy.