Today, because of its outstanding architecture and rich, ornate ruins, Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Particular standouts include brick, domed structures called dagobas, which served as repositories of Buddhist relics; myriad, ornate monasteries dating back to the first kings of the area; and pokunas, the highly complex water tanks which were crucial to the survival of the city.
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Visit the Archaeology Museum of Anuradhapura, which contains relics excavated from nearby Dagobas, such as coins, pottery, and even ancient toilets. Within is also an interesting dioramas and reconstructions of several structures in Anuradhapura’s streets.
Bodhi Tree Temple
Housed at this temple is a descendant of the Bodhi tree, the famous tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment, and the oldest known tree planted by human hands. A walled complex, the temple features a series of fig trees around the Bodhi, a form of protection from storms, monkeys, and other hazards. Because of the Bodhi, this temple is the second holiest site in all of Sri Lanka, behind the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.
Six miles (10 kilometers) east of Anuradhapura is Mihintale, a mountain peak that is home to a temple, several stupas, a Buddha image, and even a hospital that dates back to ancient times. Because of its elevation, Mihintale’s peak offers sweeping views of Anuradhapura’s ruins.
The monasteries of Anuradhapura can be roughly separated into two categories by location: the more ornate, intricate temples lie clustered to the east, while the simpler, plainer monasteries are gathered to the west. All the monasteries contain moonstones, placed at the entrances to signify following the path of enlightenment, moving from the secular to the sacred worlds. Interestingly enough, the only decorated items in the western monasteries were urinal stones – a sort of statement on the actual importance of wealth and precious jewels.
The center of the old, secular city, the Citadel contains the old city walls, a number of palaces, and several pokunas, or water tanks. The Citadel is particularly impressive at sunset, when the sun’s falling rays cast long, looping shadows through the ancient stones.
Sri Lanka Regions
Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below on the right.
Historic Sri Lanka Odyssey
Step back in time without leaving any luxury behind on this 14-day journey through Sri Lanka’s most important heritage sites. Picnic atop an ancient rock fortress, take an exciting safari through Yala National Park and visit the revered UNESCO site, Anuradhapura. This adventure offers insight into ancient cultures.
- 14 days / 13 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $13,100
Nestled in Sri Lankan countryside in the quiet village of Thirappan at the heart of the cultural triangle, Ulagalla offers both access to and an escape from all the exploration and discoveries of this fascinating and historic land. Arranged around a beautifully-restored mansion, 20 private villas languish in lush green grounds with views of gardens and paddy fields. Guests can retreat to their own personal paradise with its private plunge pool and enjoy all the conveniences of modern life at the same time. Bicycles or golf carts are available to navigate the 58-acre sprawl and to convey guests to the large pool, tranquil spa or the grand mansion for an indulgent dinner at Liyawela restaurant.
Sri Lanka Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands - a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle: Discover the Soul of a Nation
- Jay Tindall
Whether your trip to Sri Lanka includes the stunning beaches in the south, the lush highlands terraced with tea plantations or a wildlife safari in one of its national parks, it’s worth making the effort to venture into the country’s heart to explore the Cultural Triangle to get a deeper sense of history.
Heritage Hunting in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle
- Victoria Hilley
In the heart of the country lies Sri Lanka’s famed Cultural Triangle, which includes the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the cave temples at Dambulla and the mighty rock fortress of Sigiriya.
A Luxurious Comeback for Sri Lanka
- Remote Lands
The tiny island of Sri Lanka has endured a lot, both in the past and in recent memory. Torn apart by civil war and a devastating tsunami, this strong and determined little country has fought its way through the hard times and come out on the other side not only with its beauty and culture intact, but also with its eyes on bigger rewards.
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