08 Places to see in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization. It was the third capital of the kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.

The city, now a World Heritage Site, was the centre of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. The city lies 205 km (127 mi) north of the current capital of Colombo in the North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu River. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura is located in the North central province of Srilanka and 180 km from Katunayake international airport - 4 hours drive


Anuradhapura was the principal city of Sri Lanka for nearly 1500 years and home to 126 kings of the island. The dynasty of this great monarchy started by4th century BC and ended by the end of 10th century AD.

The modern city where the local community is living, The total extent of the city is 7179sqkm and the population is nearly 50000. Most of them involving in agriculture sector mainly paddy cultivation and slash and burn cultivation. The Anuradapura is located in Dryzone which gets rainfall 1200mm 1900mm. by north east monsoon, between December to March. the average temperature is >30 C. 

01. The Sacred City

The Sacred city is included the following sacred places.

  • Sacred Bodhi Tree ( Ficus Religiosa )
  • The Great Stupa ( Ruwanweli Maha Stupa )
  • The Brazen Palace
  • Abhayagiri Stupa
  • Jethawana Stupa

Note to remember

No need to buy tickets to visit the sacred bodhi tree and The great stupa. to visit other places you need to buy tickets from Abhayagiriya Museum

Highly recommended to hire a Area guide or Site guide to get the maximum benefits of the tour.

02. Isurumuniya Temple

Isurumuniya belongs to Anuradhapura Kingdom, and known as an extension of Wessagiriya according to our history books. This is a beautiful temple complex by the side of the Thissa wewa and closed to the Ranmasu Uyana. (once the Mahamewna was offered to Arahat Mahinda thero King Devanampiyatissa had a need for another garden, so he built this). This is a religious place which had founded by king Dewanampiya thissa during 3rd century BC. Since then it has evolved to the stage of present day.

Note to remember

This is a Buddhist temple be caution of your dress. Wear a white colour decent dress, you need to remove hats and shoes before enter the premises.

Highly Recommending to hire a site guide to get the maximum output of the tour.

Visit the Museum on the site

03. Vessagiriya cave complex

Vessagiriya complex is three large outcroppings of stones. Its monastery complex founded by king deva nam piyatissa in 3rd century BC. According to the mahavamsa the king built this vihara in a place where 500 vessa or vaishya (wealthy traders caste) dwelt. There are three major rocks A B and C which named by archeological department. B is the largest one.

The Vessagiri monks lived in rock shelters that were constructed by quarrying from local materials. Today’s visitor sees only the bare stones – and not all of those, since much of the rock was later carted away and reused elsewhere. But when occupied, the dwellings were finished using wood and other perishable materials. 

Above the shelters are inscribed the names of donors written in Brahmi script.

Note to remember

Highly Recommending to hire a site guide to get the maximum output of the tour.

04. Samadhi Buddha Statue

This is located at the Abhayagiri monastery in Mahamevna Uyana. It depicts the Buddha in a deep meditation in Weerasana posture caved out in dolomite marble. The qualities of Buddha, compassion, loving kindness and serenity and presented beautifully. The robe is show with a simple line. According to the features, archeologists believe that, it should be created during the period of 4th century AD.

It has been excavated in 1866 and restored. The hollow of the carved eyes was formally inset with precious stones. It is 7.3 feet high. The statue had been placed with another three in the four cardinal points in a Bodhigra. Indian prime minister Javaharlal Nehru has kept a picture of this statue, when he was in the prison and found peace in mind, when he looked at this statue.

Note to remember

Highly Recommending to hire a site guide to get the maximum output of the tour.

05. Mihintale Cave and Rock temple

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

Note to remember

This is a Buddhist temple be caution of your dress. Wear a white colour decent dress, you need to remove hats and shoes before enter the premises.

Highly Recommending to hire a site guide to get the maximum output of the tour.

Wear temple socks. Use a sun-cream / sun glasses. Take a water bottle with you.

06. Avukana Buddha Statue

The Avukana statue is a standing statue of the Buddha near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka. The statue, which has a height of more than 46 feet (14 m), was carved out of a large granite rock face during the 5th century. It depicts a variation of the Abhaya mudra, and the closely worn robe is elaborately carved. Constructed during the reign of Dhatusena, it may have been made as a result of a competition between a master and a pupil. The Avukana statue is one of the best examples of a standing statue constructed in ancient Sri Lanka. It is now a popular tourist attraction


Note to remember

The best place to witness the ancient engineering marvels of srilanka

Hire a Site Guide to get the maximum output of the trip

07. Nuwara Weva (Reservoir)

Reservoir is a man-made tank situated in Anuradhapura city which is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. The tank owed its name ‘Nuwara wewa’ in Sinhalese that mean of ‘tank in the city’ because of the tank situated close to the Anuradhapura city. It is one of the top 10 largest man made tanks in the country that consist of water about 150 millions cubic meters and covering of area about 4000 hectares with a 4 km long embankment. Both of now and early it serve to the people that providing the water for agriculture and human activities of the Anuradhapura area.


Note to remember

Good to have a lake swim and a lake bath.

Please make sure to swim only in recommended areas

08. Ritigala Buddhist Monastery

Ritigala mountain consists of four peaks which rise steeply from the surrounding plain. The mountain is 6.5 km in length, and divided into northern and southern blocks by Maha-Degala Gorge. The highest peak is Ritigala Kanda in the southern block.

At 766 m (2,513 ft) above sea level, and 600 m (2,000 ft) above the surrounding plains, Ritigala is the highest mountain in northern Sri Lanka. The modern name Ritigala is derived from the ancient name Ariṭṭha Pabbata (Dreadful Mountain), mentioned in the Mahavamsa.

Its elevation is higher than the other main tourist attractions of the north central plains, namely Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Mihintale. The significance of this topographical feature lies in the abrupt sheerness of the massif, its wooded slopes, and the wet microclimate at the summit

Note to remember

Better to have a off road vehicle to visit this place

Do you like to visit Anuradhapura?

Make you own trip plan with us

add any of these destinations and make your own trip with dear srilanka OR you can see the ready made Anuradhapura City Tour from our Day Tours as well.

Make your tripAnuradhapura city Tour