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See the ancient ruins of Sri Lanka’s first capital

Experiences in Anuradhapura

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Although today this historical city is comprised of a multitude of enigmatic and captivating ruins which allow visitors to explore Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s heritage architecture, in its heyday Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka’s shining capital, founded in 377 BC as the island’s first civilisation and which remained so until the 11th century AD. The stately royal city is a resilient one, having endured multiple invasions from South India which it steadfastly stood strong against until 995 AD. Anuradhapura’s imposing dagobas and sprawling monasteries are testament to its deeply-embedded Buddhist roots, earning it the title of a World Heritage Site. It’s also home to what is believed to be the world’s oldest tree: the Sri Maha Bodhi, which is said to be a cutting from the tree under which Buddha sat and attained enlightenment. Anuradhapura is vast: sprawling across 40sqkm, it is difficult to explore all of the citadel in one day, so we recommend getting around by bike as the paths are flat and the routes between the remains are scenic – a guide will accompany you every step of the way.

Having a site guide will dramatically enhance a visit to Anuradhapura, bringing to life the historic ruins which span 1,300 years. Other things to do in this area include: birding at Kaludiya Pokuna, an abandoned Buddhist temple shrouded within a tranquil wilderness; trekking through Ritigala Forest Reserve in search of the remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery which lie hidden within the jungle, and hiking up the mountain peak of Mihintale, said to be the place where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka. Relax after a tiring day exploring these fascinating cultural sites with an authentic Ayurvedic spa treatment.

Hosted Experiences

Traverse these expansive ruins by bicycle accompanied by a guide, via gentle, scenic routes.

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Go on a guided walk along the pathways of the ancient forest monastery tucked away in the Ritigala Forest Reserve with an experienced local guide.

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Explore the sacred site of Mihintale, the birthplace of Buddhism and the surrounding monasteries with a local guide.

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Escape to Ulpotha, a village-cum-Ayurveda-retreat, for serenity and stillness in spectacular surroundings.

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Individual Experiences

Discover the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka: after a non-strenuous climb, explore the ruins which date back to the 1st century BC.

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See the spectacular, sprawling ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastic complex, well-hidden within the verdant Ritigala Forest Reserve.

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Explore this awe-inspiring ancient kingdom, including the three majestic, colossal dagobas which remain the largest in Sri Lanka.

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Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable travel experts to plan your Sri Lanka journey.