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Anuradhapura Travel Guide: The Complete Guide

The city of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been the center of Theravada Buddhism for several centuries. It is located 205 km north of Colombo (current capital city of Sri Lanka) in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. Standing on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya, this city is an ancient city in the world. It has been continuously colonized by different rulers. Plus, it is a famous city for its storied remnants of ancient Sri Lankan civilization.

Furthermore, these remnants of the city continuously draw millions of tourists and the sights of this city are considered to be most evocative sights in the entire South Asia. Besides, the city is rich in archaeological and architectural wonders with elevated brick towers, ancient pools, mammoth dagobas, and crumbling temples. All of these wonderful establishments were created during the ruling period of different dynasties.

Top Things to see in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is a major part of the cultural triangle, which is significant to the Buddhist devotees in particular. With that being said, the city has several top-class tourist attractions and tourists can buy a $25 ticket for entering to almost all the attractions in the city of Anuradhapura. Also, if anyone wants to visit all the sites in the cultural triangle, a $50 ticket would be enough.

Following are the top attractions of Anuradhapura –

  • Sri Maha Bodhia
  • Ruwanweli Stup
  • Lovamahapaya
  • Abhayagiri Stupa
  • Twin Ponds
  • Elephant Pond
  • Aukana Buddha Statue
  • Thuparamaya
  • Samadhi Buddha Statue
  • Isurumuniya
  • Mihintale
  • Jetavanarama Stupa

Sri Maha Bodhiya: This is one of the greatest attractions of Anuradhapura. This tree was first planted in 249 B.C. and it was brought by the daughter of King Ashoka (Indian emperor). There is a legend regarding this tree. It was believed that while meditating Buddha experienced enlightenment under the Indian branch of the Jaya Sri Maha in Buddha Gaya in India. This world-famous tree is believed to be the most ancient surviving historical tree in the entire universe.

Ruwanwelisaya: The Ruwanwelisaya is an eye-catching attraction that has immense architectural value. This is a sacred stupa, which was built by King Dutugemunu. The king Dutugemunu was famous for his grand victory over the Chola King, Elara. Standing at 300 feet (91m), this monument is one of the tallest monuments in the world. Also, it has a circumference of 950 ft (290m). In addition to this, the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda in Sagaing, Myanmar has been molded similarly to this Ruwanwelisaya Stupa.

Thuparamaya: The word – Thuparamaya is a combination of Stupa and Arama and it means monastery. This is one of the ancient Stupas in Sri Lanka, which was built in the third century B.C. by King Devanampiya. When Mahinda (who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka) wanted to return to India to worship Buddha relics, the king intervened and said they can build a place where the relics should be worshipped. Afterwards, Thuparamaya was created and the rest is history.

Things to do in Anuradhapura

Tourists can do a lot of stuff’s in Anuradhapura city. You can gather valuable insights regarding Buddhism or you can enlighten yourself with the historical attractions of the city. In addition to this, the city is steeped in cultural and religious heritage, which ranges from the temples, carvings, and reservoirs to the sacred Dagabas. Moreover, you can visit the historical artifacts and archeological sites of the city to explore new things. On top of that, staying in the new town of Anuradhapura will be a good option since it has a lot to offer to the visiting people.

Furthermore, you can shop in Anuradhapura and collect local souvenirs like – replica artifacts, carved wooden figures, postcards, earrings, etc. to make your travel trip a lasting memory. Besides, you can taste the authentic Sri Lankan meal in the hotels and restaurants of Anuradhapura. The meals will be quite cheap and delicious. Plus, the street markets are crowded and you can pay a visit to them to figure out how locals interact with the visiting people.

With all these things, you shouldn’t miss the chance to discover the city in bicycle ride because it’s the best thing to do in Anuradhapura. If you take a bicycle, you can see all the remnants of Anuradhapura because all of them are spread in the city. Now, anyone can hire a bicycle from the rest houses. You just need to pay around Rs 250-300. Also, tourists prefer the tuk-tuks to travel within the city and these tuk-tuks rides will give you a taste of local living standard.

How is the weather in Anuradhapura?

The weather in Anuradhapura is mild and sometimes, it can be bit hot, especially in the month of May when the normal temperature is 29.0°C. However, the warmest month is March when the temperature rises to 33.2°C.

How to reach Anuradhapura?

Now, to reach Anuradhapura, you have three option and they are – by air, by rail, and by bus. These options are explained below –

By Air: The Colombo airport is the nearby airport to the city of Anuradhapura (183 km). Also, the tourists can take bus, cab or taxi, and train from the airport for travelling to Anuradhapura.

By Rail: Anuradhapura city has two train stations. The first one is closer to the old bus town in the city and it is known as Main Anuradhapura station. The other train station is smaller than the previous one and it is located at the South region of the city. It is known as Anuradhapura New town station.

By Bus: The city has two bus stations – ‘Old Bus Station’ and ‘New Bus Station’. If you want to go to the southern part, you have to reach the Old Bus Station. In addition to this, if you wish to head towards to north and east, you have to take a bus from the New Bus Station.

Distance from Major Travel Places

  • Arugam Bay to Anuradhapura – 308 km
  • Adam’s Peak to Anuradhapura – 247 km
  • Batticaloa to Anuradhapura – 200 km
  • Bentota to Anuradhapura – 264 km
  • Beruwala to Anuradhapura – 252 km
  • Bundala National Park to Anuradhapura – 344 km
  • Colombo to Anuradhapura – 209 km
  • Dambulla to Anuradhapura – 72 km
  • Ella to Anuradhapura – 243 km
  • Galle to Anuradhapura – 306 km
  • Hambantota to Anuradhapura – 370 km
  • Hikkaduwa to Anuradhapura – 295 km
  • Horton Plains to Anuradhapura – 288 km
  • Jaffna to Anuradhapura – 194 km
  • Kalkudah to Anuradhapura – 175 km
  • Kalpitiya to Anuradhapura – 119 km
  • Kandy to Anuradhapura – 152 km
  • Katunayake to Anuradhapura – 170 km
  • Kitulgala to Anuradhapura – 198 km
  • Knuckles Range to Anuradhapura – 173 km
  • Mannar to Anuradhapura – 107 km
  • Matara to Anuradhapura – 335 km
  • Minneriya to Anuradhapura – 87 km
  • Negombo to Anuradhapura – 168 km
  • Nilaveli to Anuradhapura – 112 km
  • Nuwara Eliya to Anuradhapura – 255 km
  • Pasikudah to Anuradhapura – 177 km
  • Pinnawela to Anuradhapura – 135 km
  • Polonnaruwa to Anuradhapura – 108 km
  • Puttalam to Anuradhapura – 74 km
  • Ratnapura to Anuradhapura – 220 km
  • Sigiriya to Anuradhapura – 78 km
  • Sinharaja to Anuradhapura – 350 km
  • Trincomalee to Anuradhapura – 105 km
  • Unawatuna to Anuradhapura – 305 km
  • Weligama to Anuradhapura – 325 km
  • Wilpattu National Park to Anuradhapura – 55 km
  • Yala National Park to Anuradhapura – 340 km

Finally, Anuradhapura is a picturesque city with lots of ancient ruins. You have to be on your toes to explore this wonderful city. After visiting this city, you will be excited and happy because there is nothing like the city of Anuradhapura. So, don’t miss a bit of Anuradhapura and uncover all the attractions of this marvelous city with our Anuradhapura travel guide.

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