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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions

Anuradhapura, which is one of the must visit cities in Sri Lanka is full of historical attractions. Anuradhapura as one of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka own lot of heritage sites to show you how Sri Lanka was in the ancient times. Together with influences of Buddhism, Anuradhapura has to offer lot more information about its history, culture and traditions that was existed in Sri Lanka before thousand years ago. As one of the pilgrimage destinations for Sri Lankans, Anuradhapura is full of Buddhist temples which any visitor to Anuradhapura must have a look. In this post, I want to share some of the must visit attractions in Anuradhapura which can complete your holiday to Sri Lanka. Once you visit these places, I am sure you’ll be amazed with the rich history, heritage and culture which Sri Lanka owns!

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions
Ruwanwelisaya Stupa
Ruwanwelisaya Anuradhapura
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions

Built by king Dutugamunu in 140 B.C., this is one of the sacred places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and all over the world. Also known as Rathnamali Dagaba,Swarnamali Chaithyaya or Ruwanwali Saya, this stupa (monument) is one of the must visit attractions in Anuradhapura.

Useful tips:

Usually it is best to visit in the evening as day time it can be really hot in the surrounding.

Remember to remove your shoes before entering to the temple premises. Also you need to wear appropriate clothes when you enter into the Ruwanweliseya premises.

Read more : Ruwanwelisaya

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree-Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Once you visit the Ruwanwelisaya, the next must visit location is Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree which is located in walking distance to Ruwanweliseya. As the oldest historically sacred tree in the world, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree is a branch from the Bodhi tree of Buddha Gaya, India which Lord Buddha was enlightened.

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Lowamahapaya ,Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

When you walk to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, from Ruwanwelisaya, you will find another historical building on the left side of you. This is called Lowamahapaya.

Although it is a ruined building now, it was a nine story building which was built by the king Dutugamunu. In ancient days, Lowamahapaya was used as a Uposathagara which also included a simamalakaya. A simamalakaya is a place where the Buddhist monks (sangha) assembled on the full moon days to recite the Buddhist sutra.(Buddhist chanting)

Read More about our travel post to Lowamahapaya Anuradhapura.

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Mirisawetiya ,Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Mirisawetiya is another sacred Buddhist place which is also one of the ‘Atamasthana’ which every Buddhists like to visit in their lifetime. This stupa is also built by the king Dutugamunu after defeating the king Elara.

Read more : Mirisawetiya Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Thuparamaya – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

As the first dagaba built in Sri Lanka after introducing the Buddhism, Thuparamaya was built by the king Dewanampiyathissa in the 3rd century BC. Thuparamaya is also considered as the oldest dagaba in Sri Lanka which is another must visit place in Anuradhapura.

Read more about Thuparamaya

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Jethawanaramaya – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

The Jethwanaramaya is another stupa in Anuradhapura which is another must visit heritage site of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Historical records say Jethawanaramaya was built by the king Mahasena as a stupa in the Jethawana Monastery. Once you visit this sacred place, you will be sure amazed with the historical architecture and culture!

See more pictures and read more about Anuradhapura Jethwanaramaya

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Isurumuniya Vihara – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Although Isurumuniya temple is famous for the ‘Isurumuniya Lovers’ sculpture, you will be amazed with the beautiful views of this temple. After visiting above mentioned places in Anuradhapura, I found this Isurumuniya viharaya as a different place. It is different from other attractions in Anuradhapura in view and in location. It is a rock temple located in a calm environment. Don’t forget to visit Isuruminiya viharaya and also the museum next to it in your holiday in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka as this is one of the best places to visit.

Read more about our trip to Isurumuniya Vihara.

Samadhi Pilimaya
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Samadhi Buddha Statue -Anuradhapura

Situated in Mahamevnawa in Anuradhapura, Samadhi Buddha statue is a Buddhist sacred place which you need to visit in Sri Lanka. Peaceful environment, historical background and Dhyana Mudra meditation posture of Buddha statue will make you calm and relax. You will never regret of your visit here for your entire lifetime.

Read more about : Samadhi Buddha Statue


Abhayagiri Viharaya
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Abhayagiri Viharaya

Next to Samadhi Pilimaya, you will see the views of Abhayagiriya. It is another Buddhist temple complex. Abhayagiriya viharaya is one of the ‘Atamasthana’ you must visit in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka in order to complete your satisfaction in holiday in Sri Lanka.

There are many other places and attractions in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka including Lankaramaya. As one of the UNESCO heritage sites of Sri Lanka, you’ll be amazed with views and attractions which you visit. Truly you will have a cultural and heritage tour which adds value for your Sri Lanka holiday.

Useful tips to Visit Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Above mentioned Anuradhapura attractions are Buddhist religious places. Therefore, always follow the steps not to disturb the others. Some of the places are full of Buddhist devotees who are participating in Buddhist meditation and other activities. You may need to stay silent or not to disturb them.

Also remember to wear appropriate clothes which are long below the knees. You can offer flowers and oil lamps. Usually it is easy to buy such offerings from the stalls near the temples.

Help locals by purchasing small things, offerings or souvenirs from them. This is not a must. But it will be always helpful if you support the locals of the area.

Here are more helpful tips about visiting temples in Sri Lanka.

Food in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

As there are hotels and restaurants available, you will not find difficult to find food of your choice. However, you can also try Sri Lankan food in Anuradhapura. There are various places which you can try Rice and Curry together with other Sri Lankan food.

Check this post about our food experience in Anuradhapura: http://foodcnr.com/sri-lankan-breakfast-in-anuradhapura/

Along the way to Anuradhapura, you will also find people selling fresh fruits in small stalls along the road.

Accommodation in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

There are many types of accommodation available in Anuradhapura. However it is better to book before you reach there. We visited there as a pilgrimage tour, family trip. So, we rented whole house as it is the best way to spend with family and relatives.

There are also hotels available in Anuradhapura from Budget hotels to Luxury hotels. You can check these hotels in Anuradhapura and book before you reach there.

Remember, Anuradhapura is usually crowded on Full moon poya days. It is better to avoid such dates if your travel plan is flexible.



















Ruwanwelisaya Anuradhapura

Ruwanwelisaya or Ruwanwalisaya is one of the sacred Buddhist stupa in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura, as a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this stupa or monument is another ancient place to visit for those who love to explore the historical cities of Sri Lanka.

Bit of History

Constructed by the King Dutugamunu in 161 BCE, this stupa is one of the best icons to show the proud history of Sri Lanka and Anuradhapura kingdom.

In Sri Lanka, there are 16 places of most interest for Buddhists. (Solosmasthana).Ruwanwelisaya is one of these 16 must visit places and there are lot of people, devotees visit this place daily.


These are some of the photos from our visits to Ruwanwelisaya,Anuradhapura. We actually visit this sacred place whenever we are in Sri Lanka for a holiday. However some of the captures are from 2011 trip to Anuradhapura and some are from the Sri Lanka visit in 2013.Those are not so clear captures. However I believe these photos from Ruwanwelisaya are enough to give some idea of how beautiful this place is. In both trips we reached Anuradhapura at night and visited the Ruwanwelisaya before starting our journey of visiting other places in Anuradhapura.


Although it is a place of worship for Buddhists, don’t forget to visit around the stupa and see the architecture and carvings which are done at the ancient times. These stone pillers and carvings in Ruwanwelisaya is a great example of craftsmanship in Sri Lanka and these give some hint about the ancient kingdom Anuradhapura.



Check some more photos from this post about Anuradhapura Ruwanwalisaya.

How to reach Ruwanwelisaya stupa?

Ruwanwelisaya stupa is located in Anuradhapura, the ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka. You need to reach Anuradhapura before you visit Ruwanwelisaya.

If you don’t drive, you can easily reach Anuradhapura by coach or by hired taxi.

By train: You need to take a train to Anuradhapura. There are trains from Colombo fort and other major train stations in Sri Lanka.

By bus: You can take a bus to Anuradhapura. If you start your journey from Colombo, then there are buses to Anuradhapura. However, expect a long journey.

Where to stay in Anuradhapura?

As Anuradhapura is a UNESCO heritage site and an ancient city of Sri Lanka, it is one of the major tourist attractions. Therefore finding accommodation in Anuradhapura is not that difficult. You can find accommodation near Ruwanwelisaya and other major attractions from budget hotels to luxury hotels. Here are some hotels in Anuradhapura


Samadhi Pilimaya is the final destination of our road trip to Anuradhapura. Although we have visited few times before and it was almost evening, I still wanted to visit this Buddha statue. So, our family members agreed to visit the place.For me,Samadhi Pilimaya is another must visit place in Anuradhapura.

The Samadhi Buddha Statue is located at Mahamevna uyana in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Buddha is represented in the position of the Dhyana Mudra,which is the pose of meditation accompanying with his first Enlightenment. This Buddha statue is 8 feet in height and it is carved from granite.

Samadhi Buddha Statue represents deep meditation position of Lord Buddha. Considered as built on 4th century AD, this ancient statue of the Buddha is acknowledged by Buddhists and other travelers from worldwide.

Samadhi Pilimaya

As per legends and historical data, it is believed that there were four similar statues facing the North, South, East and West. Still we can see some ruins of another statue behind this statue which faces North.

Samadhi Pilimaya

The statue was found in 1888.At that time it was found with the nose damaged and it was repaired before placing it back to this place where it was belonged.

I wish one day I will be able to meditate in this place in front of Samadhi Buddha statue, the surrounding is calm and peaceful although there are visitors.

If you look around from this place, the surrounding is calm and quiet and you will feel relaxed. We could clearly see another stupa from this place. It is Abhayagiriya stupa.

 Because it was almost late evening, we had to return to Colombo. It was another family trip during our Sri Lankan holidays in 2013 December. Few months ago, we visited Sri Lanka and that time we mainly visited southern parts of Sri Lanka. I hope to write my memories of this journey throughout the coming weeks. Hope you all will visit the blog and read the posts.

Stay Blessed! Have a Beautiful week ahead!


Isurumuniya Temple, Sri Lanka
Isurumuniya Temple-Front view


Throughout this year I shared photos of some places we visited in Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura. It is almost few days left for the New Year 2015! Before ending this year, I want to share photos of another ancient site we visited. It is Isurumuniya temple.

Isurumuniya Temple, Sri Lanka
Front view of Isurumuniya Temple
Isurumuniya Temple, Sri Lanka
Although Isurumuniya temple is famous for the ‘Isurumuniya Lovers’ sculpture, I simply like the view of this temple. For me this temple is different from the other places I have visited in Anuradhapura. If you noticed, the stupa (pagoda) is smaller than most other stupas in Anuradhapura. Also this is a rock temple and I simply attract to this calm place.
Isurumuniya Temple, Sri Lanka
Stupa of the Temple
As per the records, this temple is built by king Devanampiyathissa .The front view of this temple is really beautiful and there is a pond in one side of it. This pond is also known as elephant pond and there is a carving of elephant in one side.
Isurumuniya Temple, Sri Lanka

Can you see the elephant carving?
The pond of the Isurumuniya temple
Below is another stone carving we could see near the pond.
After we entered into the temple, we felt relaxed. It was windy and surrounding atmosphere was perfect for us to unwind. We spent some time near the Bodhi tree. As Buddhists, we also followed our offerings and worshiped to Lord Buddha.

After spending some time inside the temple, we visited the Archeological museum which is also in the same temple, but it houses separately in another building.Though I say I that we spent around 2 hours in this sacred place,actually 2 hours is not enough to explore the surrounding area.

We had the chance to see some of the ancient sculptures and those showed the talents of the people who carved these sculptures and carvings on stones.
After getting the permission from the government officer who was in this Archeological museum, I could capture few of the ancient carvings and sculptures which were displayed inside the museum.

The above carving is a display of  ‘Royal Family’.


Below stone carving is named as ‘Kinnara’.(Kinduru Rangum)

After having a close look to different sculptures,finally we found the ‘Isurumuniya Lovers’ stone carving.This is a famous stone carving and this temple is more popular due to this carving.It is believed/and said that this couple can be the son of king Dutugamunu and his lover Asokamala.


Below is another stone sculpture of a lion.

Below carving is called as ‘Vamana rupa’.This is a carving which we can see in most of the temples.

Actually 2 hours was not enough for us.I really admire this temple in my each visit.If I visit Anuradhapura again,I’ll definitely visit this temple again and will explore other attractions in nearby area.

After spending some time and when we were ready to start our day trip again,we headed over to Samadhi Pilimaya.Then,my next post will be about Samadhi Pilimaya although I have shared some photos earlier.



Thuparamaya-The first Stupa of Sri Lanka
lot of stupas and historical places around,we visited Thuparamaya,after
visiting few places including Mirisawetiya. Anuradhapura is an ancient kingdom
of Sri Lanka and nowadays this city has become a major tourist hot spot for
both locals and foreigners.

Thuparamaya-The first Stupa of Sri Lanka

Thuparamaya, is considered as the first stupa built in ancient Sri
Lanka. As per historical data,this stupa was built by King Devanampiyatissa
(307-267 BC), after Arhat Mahinda introduced Buddhism to the country

Thuparamaya-The first Stupa of Sri Lanka
is said that Arhat Mahinda brought the collarbone of the Buddha with him when
he introduced the Buddhism to Sri Lanka.Then king Devanampiyathissa built this
stupa and enshrined the sacred bone fragment inside it. After that, this stupa
has become a sacred place to Sri Lankans and Buddhists.

Thuparamaya-The first Stupa of Sri Lanka

Still we can see ancient pillars
of buildings around this stupa which shows the proud history of ancient
Anuradhapura kingdom and the country.

Thuparamaya-The first Stupa of Sri Lanka

This is a place which lot of
pilgrims visit annually. There are lot of Buddhist ceremonies take place
specially in full moon day,each month. There are lot of devotees meditate or
engage in Buddhist activities. It is a tradition and a must to wear properly if
you visit this place. Specially, the travelers must dress properly before
entering the place.

See some more photos ofThuparamaya stupa and its surroundings in my previous post.

Mirisawetiya -Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

Mirisawetiya is another Buddhist sacred place to visit in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka.In our previous Sri Lankan Holiday; we paid a visit to this stupa too.

Located in Anuradhapura,Mirisawetiya is built by king Dutugamunu more than 2100 years ago.(161-137 BC)

It was a full moon day and therefore the temple/stupa was crowded with devotees.

Here are some of the captures I could capture from Mirisawetiya.

Below are some Buddha statue located around the stupa.

Mirisawetiya -Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

Mirisawetiya -Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

This structure is called as ‘vahalkada’ (frontpiece) and it is with lots of stone carvings.It is said that this vahalkada is the most beautiful among those in other ancient stupa.

Vahalkada at Mirisawetiya -Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

Vahalkada at Mirisawetiya -Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

Jethawanaramaya is another most precious worshiping place
for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Situated in Anuradhapura, this stupa is claimed as
the tallest brick pagoda in the world.
During our December 2013,Sri Lanka holiday , we could
visit Anuradhapura and Jethawanaramaya is one of the places we visited. Not
only Buddhists, most tourists to Sri Lanka visit this ancient and sacred stupa
during their holiday in Sri Lanka.

See the brick wall surrounding the stupa!
We visited this Jethawanarama stupa on December full moon
day. A full moon day is a holiday for Sri Lankans and Buddhists go to temples
and spend whole day with religious activities. Offering flowers to Lord Buddha
is one of the activities. We started our journey from Sri Maha Bodhiya and the
place was full with lot of flowers offered by devotees. 
However we were sad to
see this in Jethawanaramaya. There were little flowers offered, even we didn’t
prepare with flowers. Instead we wanted to have a visit to the stupa. Seriously
it is a big mistake as a Buddhist.What I could do is just to capture the
moment,so I will not do the same mistake again!

Here are some captures from the place.All these are a
great symbol to show the country’s proud history.

A Guardstone (Mura Gala)

And finally! Although it is a sacred place,I couldn’t stay away from capturing this monkey couple 🙂

Lowamahapaya-Anuradhapura,Sri Lanka
In our 2013 December Sri Lankan holiday, we had a family trip to Anuradhapura. In day 1,we reached to Anuradhapura and on our way to Anuradhapura,we could visit the Temple of Tooth Relic in Kandy. When we arrive to Anuradhapura it is almost night time, but we could manage to visit Ruwanwalisaya which is one of the main place to visit and worship in Anuradhapura.

Lowamahapaya-Anuradhapura,Sri Lanka
We started the Day 2 early in the morning. It is better to start early, mainly to avoid the heat and also the crowd. Lowamahapaya is situated between Ruwanwalisaya and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. It is also called as the Brazen Palace because of the bronze tiles used for its roof. Lohaprasadaya is another name.

Lowamahapaya-Anuradhapura,Sri Lanka
On our way to Sri maha Bodhiya, we stopped at Lowamahapaya and had a glance. As per historical records, this massive building was constructed by king Dutugamunu and it had nine storeys, and hundred rooms on each floor. This massive building was entirely covered with plates of copper. However nowadays what we see are the ruins of massive building with lot of stone pillars.
After Lowamahapaya, we visited the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya.I have some photos and will share those soon.Until then,check some of other posts about Sri Lanka which I have shared before.

Ruwanweli Seya built in the 2nd century B.C. by King Dutugamunu in Sri Lanka. This dagaba or Stupa is a dome or relic chamber which is build over sacred relics of the Buddha


Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka

Check latest post about Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura.

From Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka


Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka







Photos from Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka





Photos from Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka









Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka



Ruwanwali saya - Sri Lanka


Samadhi Pilimaya is located at mahamewna  Uyana,Anuradhapura ,Sri Lanka
This Limestone statue of Lord Buddha  is shown Lord Buddha in the serene state of Samadhi.Kindness of Lord Buddha flows through the half closed eyes.
some think the expression change as the sun’s light moves across it. It is roofed to protect form the weather

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