Anuradhapura although limited to picturesque ruins today this sacred city was the epicenter of the country’s civilization during the medieval era. The city is renowned for the multiplicity of religious and archeological sites that offers a plethora of sightseeing opportunities ranging from the striking ancient stupas (mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics) of small sun-dried bricks to ruins of ancient temples, sculptures, the sacred Bo tree(Peepal tree) site as well as the several ancient man-made tanks that deck the city’s landscape. Moreover, the troupes of cheeky, toque monkeys that inhabit the sites are not to be missed! The climate is pleasant and sunny so opting to visit locations of sightseeing on a bike can be quite enjoyable. It is advisable to avoid the wet season (October – March) if you are planning to visit Anuradhapura on a tight schedule as it could hinder chances of sightseeing.
It was during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (250 – 210 B.C.) that the Arahat Mahinda, son of the great Buddhist Emperor Asoka, led a group of missionaries from North India to Sri Lanka. With his followers he settled in a hermitage of caves on the hill of Mihintale – the name which derives from Mahinda’s own.The new religion swept over the land in a wave. The King himself donated land for a great monastery in the very heart of the city which was also his own Royal Park – the beautiful Mahamegha Gardens.The Buddhist principality had had but a century to flourish when it was temporarily overthrown by an invader from the Chola Kingdom of South India.