Anuradhapura tour, Sri Lanka

To truly get to grips with Sri Lanka’s fascinating past, a visit to Anuradhapura is a must. This ancient city is home to over a thousand years of history and a slew of must see culturally significant sites.

While it was once a sprawling city today it feels more like a large village, yet the ruins here remain one of the more tantalising sights in South Asia. Here you’ll find a mixture of ancient pools, timeworn temples and holy sites. You can visit at any time, but it’s best to avoid the midday sun and opt for an early morning or afternoon tour for a relaxed and comfortable experience. You should also make sure you cover your shoulders and avoid wearing anything too bright or colourful. 

Start your tour by visiting Abayaghiriya, a bell-shaped monument that soars 75m above the forest floor. Dating back to the 1st century BC and made of some two million red bricks, it’s a breath-taking sight and an excellent introduction to the ancient city. From here head on to the Ruwanwelisaya, a grand dagoba once considered the world’s biggest stupa and reportedly home to a portion of Buddha’s ashes.

From here head on to Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred Bodhi tree that is said to be the oldest tree in the world. Some say it has been grown from a branch of the historical Sri Maha Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Believed to have stood for some 2200 years, today it attracts thousands of devotees from around the world who make offerings, particularly during the full moon. Time it right and get here for sunset when the views are incredible.

Highlights

  • Explore over a thousand years of history in this ancient city

  • See the world’s oldest tree, grown from the tree under which Buddha attained Enlightenment

Rebecca
Travel Designer
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I will never forget the moment that we came across a huge herd of 50 elephants in Minneriya National Park. They ran for cover when there was a sudden downpour, and I got soaked but didn’t care! I love Sri Lanka for its diversity, great food, culture, wildlife and history – and it’s still very much undeveloped.

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