Anuradhapura Travel Guide

  • Anuradhapura
    by jo104
  • Kees, mr. Samanta and me, at the gate of the hotel
    Kees, mr. Samanta and me, at the gate of...
    by KarsiniAsmara
  • Spesific Sri Lankan breakfast, delicious.
    Spesific Sri Lankan breakfast,...
    by KarsiniAsmara

Anuradhapura Things to Do

  • Isurumuniya Temple-The Lovers

    The same act of abdication of the throne of Britain by the King-Emperor Edward VIII to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite, in December 1936, was done by King Dutugemunu's son, Saliya for his beloved, low-caste maiden, Asokamala, many centuries ago in Anuradhapura. Saliya and his wife, Asokamala, are immortalised in a...

  • Emperor's Daughter's Gift to Ceylon

    The famous Bo-Tree is on an elevated pavilion with a strong iron grill right round it. As you approach the peepul tree, you will notice its right branch supported by long brass poles at different levels. This is the tree that the Buddhist nun, Sanghamitta, the daughter of Ashoka the Great, brought as a sapling in the 3rd century BC from Gaya,...

  • 1840 steps - Mihintale Stupa

    Our next stop was 16 kms away at Mihintale. This is the place where Emperor Ashoka’s son, Mahinda first preached Buddhism to King Devanampiyatissa (307 BC-267 BC) in 247 BC. A pilgrimage is held here on the full moon day in June every year to commemorate this event. A very broad staircase of 1840 stone steps lead to the summit (300 m; 1,000 ft)....

  • Archaeological Museum

    To round off the day, we then went to the Archaeological Museum, a treasure trove of artefacts. Established centuries ago in 437 BC, it remains closed on Tuesdays and on all Sri Lankan holidays. The timings are 8.30 am to 5.30 pm. It houses terracotta objects, paintings, coins, beads, statues and a plethora of miscellaneous items. Outside the...

  • The Asoo Atariyan Buddha statue & Len...

    Thereafter, you may visit Asoo Atariyan Buddha statue and Len Vihariya a short distance away. There is a huge statue of the Buddha in the classic lotus pose here. Within this complex is also the Sri Gunarathana Pilgrim’s Rest.

  • Jetavena Stupa

    Our last stop for the day was the Jetavena Stupa and Monastery built by King Mahasena (276-303 AC) in the Nandana Pleasure Garden where the son of Emperor Asoka of India, Mahinda, preached Buddhism. Subsequently, the place was named ‘Jotivana’ meaning, ‘the place where the true doctrine shines’. The present monastery covers an area of 5.6 hectares...

  • The Gem Palace-Ratnaprasada

    Next to this ruin, on the other side of the road is the Ratnaprasada or the Chapter House, earlier a five storied structure built during the reign of King Kanitthatissa (164-192 AD). Like the Lovamahapaya (The Great Copper Roofed Mansion) or the Brazen Palace used by the Mahavihara monks for confession and rectification, the Abhayagiriya monks put...

  • The Queen's Pavilion

    The Queen’s Pavilion by the side of the road and within the Abhayagiriya complex, has the finest example of a moonstone, its shape resembling a half-moon with intricate carvings. It is supposed to symbolise the endless cycle or birth-death-rebirth (outer circle) as well as a way to escape this and attain salvation (innermost circle). There are...

  • Abhayagiri Stupa

    Our next stop was the Abhayagiri Stupa said to have been built on top of Buddha’s footprint. It is about 370 feet high. It is a part of the Abhayagiri Monastery founded by King Valagamba or Vattagamini Abhaya, a full century Before Christ, after driving out the foreign invaders from South India and regaining his throne. Legend has it that the...

  • Ancient Engineering Skill-The Twin Ponds

    The Kuttam Pokuna or Twin Ponds are a marvel of ancient engineering skill, built during the reign of King Agbo I (576-608 AD). They served the bathing purpose of the monks of Abhaygiri Monastery. The two ponds are not exactly of the same dimension. The southern one is 132 feet by 51 feet while the northern one is 91 feet by 57 feet. The northern...

  • The Buddha Samadhi

    The Buddha Samadhi is also not very far off. A row of shanty shops, selling flowers, garlands and incense sticks, line the way to the 2 m (6.5 ft.) Buddha statue, carved during the 4th century. The hollow eyes suggest an inlay of some precious stones which may well have been taken out over the years. Behind the statue is yet another one, headless...

  • A Bubble of Water

    A short distance away is the Ruwanveli Seya or Ruwanveli Dagoba. It is a huge white dome, built in the shape of a bubble of water by King Dutugamunu (101-77 BC). Legend has it that the construction of this monument was prophesied by Emperor Ashoka’s son, Mahinda, the man who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka when King Devanampiya Tissa (250-210 BC)...


Anuradhapura Hotels

  • Tissawewa Resthouse

    Old Town, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

    Satisfaction: Average

    Good for: Couples

  • Palm Garden Village Hotel

    The Palm Garden Village is like a colonial club, but one with a relaxed and freestyle-air. It was...

  • Riverina Hotel

    Kaluwamodera, Beruwela, Sri Lanka

    Satisfaction: Average

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

Anuradhapura Restaurants

  • Cheap, spicy buffet in Anuradhapura

    The creatively-named Why Not restaurant offers a lunch buffet for Rs 95, or Rs 90 for take-away. This includes rice and various curries, which are fairly tasty but also on the spicy side. The seating is at plastic tables on an outside patio. They also offer accommodation.

  • Good veg curry dinner

    This guesthouse has a very nice set vegetarian dinner for Rs 300. It comes with rice, three or four curries according to the menu though we were served five, plus salad and dessert. We weren't very hungry so we asked if we could share one dinner between the two of us, and they brought us more food than we could finish but still only charged us Rs...

  • Fresh Juice Stalls

    The first juice stall on the way towards the Samadhi Buddha has very good juice. They call it orange juice, but it's made from green, unripe oranges and tastes more like lemonade. Be sure to ask for sugar, and ice if you're not too afraid of the local water. A tall glass of this stuff costs Rs 20 and is very refreshing on a hot day. Juice stalls...


Anuradhapura Transportation

  • Lal Lanka Tours (tuk tuk)

    If you are planning to visit the cultural triangle why not save yourself time and get yourself a great tuk tuk driver. Lal has one of the most comfortable rides in Sri Lanka with car seats fitted into his piaggo. The extra boot space means your luggage can easily fit without you feeling uncomfortable. He is based in Sigiriya usually stationed...

  • Bicycling through the site.

    If you have enough time, maybe the best way to visit the complex is by bicycle. Long dirty roads along big lakes, visiting the most remote ruins of the city is a great experience. There are some places in Anuradhapura new city to rent them.

  • Cycling around Anuradhapura

    The best way to get around Anuradhapura really is by bike. If you're not up to that then you can negotiate with a three-wheeler to drive you around, but bargain hard for a decent price. The sites are too spread out to make walking an option. Bicycles are available for rent at most guesthouses for around Rs 250 per day.


Anuradhapura Shopping

  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    Jayamini Lace Centre: Lacy Stuff

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 28, 2012

    Next to the Twin Ponds is a quaint shop (Jayamini Lace Centre) selling intricately-crafted lace items. The lady stocks table mats, bed sheets, shopping bags, souvenirs made of wood and of bamboo. Next door is a cold drink stall.

    What to buy: Lace table clothes, covers, local curios, paintings, cushion covers, bags, dolls, table mats, foodstuffs.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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Anuradhapura Local Customs

  • euzkadi's Profile Photo

    Buddhist guide.

    by euzkadi Updated Dec 21, 2010

    The first day i used a guide to visit the complex, i had some good conversations with him; he was studiying tourism and was a Buddhist monk, he gave me some interesting opinions about Buddhism and Sri Lanka, he also showed me the main interesting spots in the site. The next day i wandered throught the ruins by myself with a bicycle.

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Anuradhapura Warnings and Dangers

  • No Turning Back-Samadhi Buddha

    At the Buddha Samadhi, a sign warns tourists from standing with their backs to the statue while being photographed. In other words, you may stand alongside the statue and have your photo clicked but should refrain from standing in front of the statue with your back to the Lord. This is considered inappropriate, disrespectful, in bad taste and...

  • Monkeys Galore!

    Be careful of the monkeys within the premises of this Bo-Tree. They are fearless and they are a hungry lot. Bringing bananas or other food stuffs is a big no, no. They have been known to grab and run with their booty. Small children should be forewarned not to mimic them or irritate them in any manner. They have been known to attack, if...

  • If you are pressed for time . . .

    . . . skip the Archeological Museum in Anuradhapura. Many of the objects in the musuem display aren't that much better preserved that the objects at the sites. We politely refused a tour and were left to our own devices with limited informational signs.With so many things to see in Anuradhapura and the time it would take for a proper tour of the...


Anuradhapura Tourist Traps

  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    Half Ticket Full Day

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 28, 2012

    When you buy your ticket to the tourist spots of Anuradhapura at the counter situated within the premises of the Archaeological Museum, you may request for a half day ticket for one day and another half day ticket for the next day (You have to produce your passport before the tickets are issued for a concession if you are from one of the SAARC nations). Else, they will issue you a full day ticket for one day only. While this may be sufficient if you are there for only a day, this rush-rush sight-seeing will surely rob you of the nuances of each of the tourist spots that the place has to offer.

    We paid LKR 1,439.50 (US$ 12.50) per ticket for the two days (Dec. 2011).

    Unique Suggestions: Abhayagiriya section

    Abhayagiriya stupa
    Queen’s Palace and Moonstone
    Ratnaprasada (Chapter House)
    First Samadhi Buddha Image and Bodhighara
    Twin Ponds

    Mahavihara section

    Lovamahapasda (Brazen Palace)
    Sri Maha Bodhi Tree and Shrine

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

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Anuradhapura Off The Beaten Path

  • Spend a little time on the lakeside

    Anuradhapura is surrounded by lakes - Nuwara Wewa, Tissa Wewa and Bussawak Kulama are the biggest of them. Lakesides are a perfect place to take a rest or make a picnic after visiting the Ancient City. It will give you a opportunity to meet the locals, to be invited for a grilled fish, or to buy one from a fisherman and to grill it by yourself...

  • Chill out in the shade after a day in...

    The Royal Pleasure Gardens are not really off the beaten path but could easily be overlooked in the midst of so many impressive ruins.The photo is of one of the many garden caretakers mowing the grass.

  • Anuradhapura Hotels

    13 Hotels in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura Favorites

  • Practicalities

    Anuradhapura is covered by the cultural triangle ticket (unfortunately not all notable sites within it), otherwise it’s a mere >$15 entrance fee. Some visitors are said to roam freely as the area is large and not guarded but as soon as you reach the Samadhi Buddha you’ll be more or less forced to do by the police (in a gentle way)Anuradhapura’s...

  • Cultural Triangle Ticket

    Paying separate entrance for Anuradhapura may add a lot in your budget (around $15 !!), so it is wise enough and a good value to get the rather expensive (by Sri Lankan standards) Cultural Triangle ticket. This cost around 40$ (!!) and covers six sights (Anuradhapura, Sigirirya, Polonnaruwa, Nalanda, Medirigiriya, Ritigala BUT NOT Dambulla caves...

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

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