Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 111

109
Distance from airport
: 167.2 km
Modes of transport
: Bus, train, car
Best time of year to visit:
Considered
a year-round destination, it’s worth
noting that April and September are
considered the best months as they are
most likely dry and sunny with moderate
temperatures.
Attractions
: History & culture
Pro Tip
: Visit the ruins in the morning
before the sun gets too hot.
Recommendations
: The sacred Bodhi
tree should not be missed. It is the oldest
historically authenticated tree in the
world and the heart of Anuradhapura
.
The picturesque and sacred city of
Anurdhapura was Sri Lanka’s political and
religious capital, flourishing for 1,300 years
before being abandoned after succumbing to
Indian invaders in 993 AD. Anuradhapura
remains a fascinating place today and one of
greatsignificance.Thesheerscaleoftheruined
city is awe-inspiring and can be explored for
days. Functioning as the epicenter of secular
and spiritual power at its peak, Anurdhapura
was home to ten thousand monks, making it
one of the greatest monastic cities the world
has ever seen. The kings of Anurdahpura
were responsible for the golden age of
Sinhalese culture and temples and structures
they built were only surpassed at the time
by the great pyramids of Giza. Following
the collapse of the great northern Sinhalese
civilization, Anuradhapura was reclaimed
by the jungle, and largely forgotten, except
by the communities of monks and guardians
of the sacred bo tree who continued to
live here. The British “rediscovered” the
city in the nineteenth century, after which
Anuradhapura slowly began to thrive again.
Anuradhapura’s scatter of monuments and
remains is vast and potentially confusing. The
most obvious place to start is the Mahavihara,
at the physical and historical center of the
ancient city. From there make your way to
the Ruvanvalisaya dagoba (temple) and then
southwards to Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred fig
tree said to be cultivated from a branch off
the same tree under which Buddha attained
enlightment, before doubling back toward
the Thuparamaya dagoba. From here you can
either head east to the Jetavana monastery or
north to the Abhayagiri monastery complex.
Plan time to venture out from Anurdhapura
to Kekirawa, (44.1 km) to the magnificent
Aukana Sasseruwa. Standing at more than 40
feet high and carved from a granite rock face,
this is one of the finest Buddha statues on the
island. Carved in the 5th century, it depicts a
standing Lord Buddha with a loosely worn,
elaborately carved robe.
Anurdhapura
Photo credit: Tom Tidball
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