A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka

When we are in Sri Lanka we always love to arrange pilgrimages with family members. As a country with a lot of sacred cities, temples and historical sites, Sri Lanka offers many reasons for us to plan pilgrimages each year. It can be a pilgrimage to see temples and ruins of ancient city Polonnaruwa or it can be a pilgrimage to see Anuradhapura attractions, we always find these tours as a way to bond with family members while spending time in religious activities. Our trips to Kandy are also pilgrimages most of the time as temples are the main attractions, not only for visiting but also to spend time with religious and spiritual activities.

So, here is a travelogue of one of our recent pilgrimages to Anuradhapura which is one of the sacred cities in Sri Lanka.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka

It was last June that we were on another holiday in Sri Lanka. During this period, we spent time visiting Anuradhapura which is one of the sacred cities in Sri Lanka. I’ve visited Anuradhapura Buddhist attractions many times, but I still plan to visit the same places again simply due to the Buddhist beliefs and to spend time in spiritual activities.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Stopping at a fruit stall is a great way to have a break.

As for most pilgrimages, we left our home early in the morning with the hope of reaching Anuradhapura in the noon. On the way to Anuradhapura, we stopped in a few places for breakfast and for short breaks. As there are fruit stalls along the road to Anuradhapura, it is always enjoyable to taste different fruits that are also fresh.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Travelling with a kid, we always like to have short breaks during road trips.

Finally, we reached Anuradhapura. After having lunch, our first visit was to the ‘Sri Maha Bodhi Tree’ which is one of the sacred places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Sri Maha Bodhi tree

It is believed that the ‘Sri Maha Bodhi tree” is a sapling of Bodhi tree that Buddha was sitting during his enlightenment.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Offerings at the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

As usual, we always like to visit Ruwanwalisaya in the evening to avoid the sun. During the daytime, it can be really hot and it is not easy to go around the stupa and do the offerings with proper concentration.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Ruwanwalisaya Stupa

In Thuparamaya, we also could see and join another Buddhist offering which is called ‘Kap ruk Poojawa’.After visiting both Thuparamaya and Ruwanwelisaya which are must-visit attractions in Anuradhapura, we reached our accommodation.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Kap Ruk poojawa at Thuparamaya

It was the day before June Full moon day which is also called ‘Poson Poya’.In Sri Lanka, full moon day is a holiday and it is a day for Buddhist activities. As a Major poya day, Pososn Poya is a crowded day for Anuradhapura and temples were full of devotees.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Thuparamaya Stupa after Kap ruk poojawa

We also spent time having meals and drinks from ‘Dan sal’.Dan Sal are the places where people offer food and drinks for anyone without any charge. It is completely free to drink or eat from a ‘Dansala’ and these events are mostly organized during the major full moon days.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
Dan Sala (It was a Biscuit Dan sala organized by a major Biscuit brand of Sri Lanka which travellers to Anuradhapura received biscuits free. 🙂

As the city was fully crowded, we also experienced huge traffic jams. However, we could visit the major attractions including Abhayagiriya and Jethwanaramaya.

We had great two days in Anuradhapura spending in spiritual activities. It was a pilgrimage that we like to remind again and again.

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka
It is easy to buy flowers and other necessary things for offerings at the entrance of each Buddhist places.

Useful tips for planning a pilgrimage to Anuradhapura

Leave early and reach Anuradhapura early morning to save time. So, you can visit more attractions during the few days of your stay.

Follow the rules when you enter the sacred city and the temples. Check this post on how to behave in a Buddhist temple if you are not sure.

Avoid bathing in lakes if you don’t know the designated places to have a bath or to enjoy water activities. Always read the signboards and warnings before you go to the water/lakes.

Hiring a van from a car rental service is always our preferred way to reach Anuradhapura when we plan pilgrimages. This is a stress-free way to reach Anuradhapura.

Accommodation in Anuradhapura

Book your accommodation before you reach Anuradhapura. During crowded days, it is not easy to find proper accommodation.

We booked Creston Park Accommodation through Agoda which is a decent budget hotel that is great for family holidays. The good thing about Creston Park Accommodation is that their food is really delicious. Also, the staff is friendly. The location is strategic and near to the sacred city of Anuradhapura. (Accommodation Near Anuradhapura Pooja Nagaraya)

A Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura- Sri Lanka

Have you been to Anuradhapura? Do you like pilgrimages? If so, do you plan such trips with family members and friends? Please share your thoughts below.


  1. I had no idea that Sri Lanka had so many sacred sites. I appreciate that you included people in the one photo. It shows the massive scale of the stupa.

  2. Sri Lanka is one of my favorite destinations – have been there many times and would love to visit again. Your well written post brought back some good memories. Thanks.

  3. Sri Lanka looks incredible! I have seen many posts on this place but none as good as this one. I enjoyed your post 🙂

  4. I’d love to visit this place someday. I’ve got an ever-growing bucket list. I think it would be fun to visit the fruit stalls. We don’t have anything like that around here.

  5. That’s a good tip about the swimming. People see water and think they can get in no matter what, but that’s simply not the case.

  6. This is a very interesting trip. It is always exciting to visit places like this. The huge tree looks amazing.

  7. Oh wow how incredibly beautiful! It looks like such a beautiful place with so much to see and do, I;d love to visit one day although Im not sure it would be quite as enjoyable with my four children in tow! Beautiful photos!

  8. Wow!! this is a great place, I love your adventure here in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka this is one of the cities that I would love to explore. there are tons of beautiful and lovely history to discover. great post Amila!

  9. Going on a pilgrimage with one’s family I am sure is an experience of a lifetime. In a away its a holiday. I feel privileged when I get to spend time with my family especially when when its us alone without any distractions. It seems that this pilgrimage with your family was like that. Such experiences are priceless

  10. Hi, I’m a Sri Lankan boy 13 years old. actually been a Sri Lankan i would be a shame that I haven’t to been Anuradhapura. I got interested to visit Anuradhapura. thanks, auntie Amila Wickramarachchi

    • Dear Savithu putha,
      Thanks for this comment. I am glad that you got interested in visiting Anuradhapura. There are many attractions to visit which has Buddhist, historical and cultural value. We usually visit every year, but due to the pandemic, I am not sure when we will visit again after our last visit in 2019 December.
      If you visit Anuradhapura, be sure to share a comment here.
      Have a Great day!
      Auntie Amila


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