The city of Anuradhapura is situated 220 kms away from Colombo in the north central province of Sri Lanka on Malwathu Oya. Founded in the 6th century BC, it was the capital of the Sri Lanka from 4th century BC to beginning of 11th century AD and was the royal capital of almost 130 successive rulers. At its hight, the city was home over 10,000 Buddhist bikkus with gigantic stupas ever built by man. Today this ancient capital of Sri Lanka has become sacred to the whole Buddhist world, with its surrounding monasteries covering an area of 40 sq. kilometres and one of the world’s major archaeological sites.
According to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of the Sri Lanka, the city of Anuradhapura was named after a Minister called Anuradha who founded this area as a village settlement. He was one of the ministers who accompanied king Vijaya from India, who according to the tradition founded the Sinhalese Race in Sri Lanka.
It was king Pandukabhaya who made it his capital in the 4th Century BC. It was during the period of his grandson king Devanampiyatissa that the Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka by Arhath Mahinda Thero, the son of Emperor Asoka in India. This was 236 years (middle of 3rd century BC) after passing a way of Load Buddha. From this point onwards a great civilization developed based on one of the greatest religions of South East Asia, Buddhism.
Anuradhapura is a must visit tourist destination for those who wish to see the Sri Lanka was 2000 years ago. The Sri Maha Bodhi which is an off shoot of the very tree at which Buddha attained nirvana lies in the center of the holy city. Planted in 249 BC, this is the oldest tree in the world of recorded history.
Built in the 3rd century, the Jetawana Stupa of the Jetawanaramaya Aramic Complex at Anuradhapura was originally 400 feet (122 meters) in height and was the third tallest building in the world at that time. Even today as a brick monument, Jethawanaramaya still remains the tallest of its kind in the world.