Founded around 5th Century BC, Anuradhapura is the oldest city in the Cultural Triangle and Sri Lanka’s first capital. In its heyday, tens of thousands of people lived in a city of royal palaces, monasteries, temples topped by glittering jewels, houses of two or three storeys, shops, pleasure gardens, bathing pools and wooded parks.
Today, the restored remains of ancient Anuradhapura are dotted amidst peaceful parks to the north and west of the modern city. Among the many bell-shaped dagobas or temples are Thuparama (which enshrines a relic of Lord Buddha), and Ruwanweli, rebuilt to its original 2nd century BC bubble shape.
Other Dagoba (Pagoda) include the 1st century BC Abhayagiri and 3rd century BC Jetawana, both around 120 metres high and second in height only to Egypt’s mightiest pyramids at Giza. Excavations have unearthed jewellery, sculptures, coins and other rare artifacts including seven Buddhist scriptures etched into sheets of beaten gold. Soaring towards the sky, the magnificent dagobas reached monumental proportions during the period of the kingdom of Anuradhapura, which lasted for about 1,500 years, until the 10th century AD.