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By the way, we would recommend you to combine your visit to Anuradhapura with other popular and interesting places of Sri Lanka, for example: Unawatuna, Bentota, Trincomalee, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Mirissa, Beruwala, Colombo, Tangalle, Weligama, Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Galle, etc.
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Hotels of Anuradhapura
A hotel in Anuradhapura is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Anuradhapura hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Anuradhapura are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Anuradhapura hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Anuradhapura hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Anuradhapura have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Anuradhapura
An upscale full service hotel facility in Anuradhapura that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Anuradhapura hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Anuradhapura
Full service Anuradhapura hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Anuradhapura
Boutique hotels of Anuradhapura are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Anuradhapura boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Anuradhapura may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Anuradhapura
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Anuradhapura travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Anuradhapura focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Anuradhapura
Small to medium-sized Anuradhapura hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Anuradhapura traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Anuradhapura hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Anuradhapura
A bed and breakfast in Anuradhapura is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Anuradhapura bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Anuradhapura B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Anuradhapura hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Anuradhapura
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Anuradhapura hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Anuradhapura lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Anuradhapura often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Anuradhapura on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Anuradhapura
A Anuradhapura motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Anuradhapura for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Anuradhapura motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Anuradhapura (Sinhalese: අනුරාධපුරය ; Tamil: அனுராதபுரம்) 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 Sri Lankan civilization. It was the third capital of the Kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.
The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the center of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. The city lies 205 km (127 mi) north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
It is believed that from the fourth century BC until the beginning of the 11th century AD it was the capital of the Sinhalese. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).
Anuradhapura: Urban Area
Although according to historical records the city was founded in the 5th century BC, the archaeological data put the date as far back as the 10th century BC. Very little evidence was available about the period before the 5th century BC (i.e. the protohistoric period), though excavations have revealed information about the earlier inhabitants of the city.
Further excavations in Anuradhapura have uncovered information about the existence of a protohistoric habitation of humans in the citadel. The protohistoric Iron Age, which spans from 900 to 600 BC, marked the appearance of iron technology, pottery, the horse, domestic cattle and paddy cultivation. In the time period 700 to 600 BC, the settlement in Anuradhapura had grown over an area of at least 50 hectares (120 acres). The city was strategically situated of major ports northwest and northeast. It was surrounded by irrigable and fertile land. The city was also buried deep in the jungle providing natural defence from invaders.
The Lower Early Historic period, spanning from 500 to 250 BC, is studied on the lines of the chronicles. During this time King Pandukabhaya formally planned the city, with gates, quarters for traders etc. The city at the time would have covered an area of 1 square kilometre which makes it one of the largest in the continent at the time.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
ii, iii, vi
1982 (6th Session)
The layout of Anuradhapura as described in the Mahavamsa:
It is believed that King Pandukabhaya made it his capital in the 4th century BC, and that he also laid out the town and its suburbs according to a well-organized plan. He constructed a reservoir named Abhayavapi. He established shrines for yakkhas such as Kalawela and Cittaraja. He housed the Yaksini-Cetiya in the form of a mare within the royal precincts, and offerings were made to all these demi-gods every year. He chose the sites for the cemetery and for the place of execution, the Chapel of the Western Queen, the Pacchimarajini, the Vessavana Banyan Tree, the Palm of the Vyadhadeva, the Yona Quarter and the House of the Great Sacrifice. The slaves or Candalas were assigned their duties, and a village was set apart for them. They build dwellings for Niganthas, for wandering ascetics and for Ajivakas and Brahmanas. He established, the village boundaries. The tradition that King Pandukabhaya made Anuradhapura the capital city of Sri Lanka as early as the 4th century BC had been very important.
The administrative and sanitary arrangements made for the city and the shrines he provided indicate that over the years, the city developed according to an original master plan. His son, Mutasiva, succeeded to the throne. During his reign of sixty years, he maintained Anuradhapura as his capital and further laid out the Mahameghavana Garden which was to play an important role in the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was in the period of his successor, his son Devanampiya Tissa, that Buddhism was first introduced to this island 236 years after the passing away of the Buddha. Emperor Ashoka of India was a contemporary of Devanampiya Tissa.
Mahinda was the son of Emperor Ashoka of India. Ashoka embraced Buddhism after he was inspired by a very small monk named Nigrodha. The king, who was in great misery after seeing the loss of life caused by his waging wars to expand his empire, was struck by the peaceful countenance of such a young monk. Meeting this young monk made a turning point in his life and he thereafter, renounced wars. He was determined to spread the message of peace, to neutralize the effects from the damages caused by him through his warfare. As a result, both his son and daughter were ordained as Buddha disciples, and became enlightened as Arahats. In his quest to spread the message of peace instead of war, he sent his son Mahinda, to the island of Lanka, which was also known as “Sinhalé”. According to Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa, Thera Mahinda came to Sri Lanka from India on the full moon day of the month of Poson (June) and met King Devanampiyatissa and the people, and preached the doctrine.
Historically this period is believed to extend from 250 to 210 BC. This is the point at which a kingship began and a civilization developed based on one of the most significant religions of South Asia, Buddhism.
Anuradhapura: Buddhism and Anuradhapura
With the introduction of Buddhism, the city gained more prominence and the great building era began. The Mahavansa states that King Kutakannatissa built the first city wall to a height of seven cubits with a moat in front of the wall. This fortification was further enlarged by raising the wall a further 11 cubits to 18 cubits by King Vasabha. The king also added fortified gatehouses at the entrances of which the ruins can be seen to date. The Mahavamsa also states that soothsayers and architects were consulted in the construction.
During the late Anuradhapura period, the royal family and nobility of Sri Lanka strongly supported Buddhism. As such, they frequently commissioned works of art and donated these items to Buddhist temples. In return, the temple and local Buddhist community supported the king's rule. Art works featuring depictions of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion, became increasing popular.
Anuradhapura: Great Building Era
The architectural remains can still be seen and gives a glimpse of what had been the country at that time.Abayagiri Stupa or the Abayagiri Dageba was constructed in 1 Century BC by King Vattagamini Abaya. The Abayagiri complex covers an area of 200 hectares.The hight of the stupa is 235 feet and has a diameter of 310 feet at the base of the dome. It is built on a stone paved platform.The techniques used in Anuradhapura era is outstanding.
Anuradhapura: The city grows
The city's popularity grew both as a ritual centre and as the administrative centre, a large population was attracted to the city for permanent settlement. Thus the living facilities were improved to accommodate the expanding population. King Vasabha constructed many ponds which were fed by a network of subterranean channels which were constructed to supply water to the city. The Tissa and Abhayavapi tanks were built, the Nuwara weva was built and the Malwatu Oya was dammed to build the Nachchaduwa wewa which was 4,408 acres (17.84 km) in size.
Parks were also provided in the city. The Ranmasu Uyana below the bund of Tissavapi or Tissa weva was one such, but it was strictly reserved for the members of the royal family. Health care and education were two other aspects to which the authorities paid attention. There were several hospitals in the city. In the 4th century King Upatissa II provided quarters and homes for the crippled and the blind. King Buddhadasa (337-365 AD), himself a physician of great repute, appointed a physician to be in charge of every ten villages. For the maintenance of these physicians, one tenth of the income from the fields was set apart. He also set up refuges for the sick in every village. Physicians were also appointed to look after the animals. Kassapa V (914-923 AD) founded a hospital close to the southern gate of Anuradhapura. General Sena in the 10th century is believed to have built a hospital close to the ceremonial street (Managala Veediya). The history of medical care began early, for in the 4th century BC King Pandukhabaya, in the course of sanitizing the town constructed a hospital. A large workforce was entrusted with the task of keeping the city clean.
Large lakes were also constructed by the city's rulers to irrigate paddy lands and also to supply water to the city. Nuwara wewa and Tissa wewa are among the best known lakes in the city.
Anuradhapura: The Great City
Anuradhapura attained its highest magnificence about the commencement of the common era. The city had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world, situated in the dry zone of the country the administration built many tanks to irrigate the land. Most of these tanks still survive.
Anuradhapura: Modern era
Anuradhapura: European discovery
The area was uninhabited for many centuries, but the local population remained aware of the ruins. In Robert Knox's 1681 An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, he wrote: "At this City of Anurodgburro is a Watch kept, beyond which are no more people that yield obedience to the King of Candy". In 1821, John Davy wrote that: "Anooradapoora, so long the capital of Ceylon, is now a small mean village, in the midst of a desert. A large tank, numerous stone pillars, two or three immense tumuli, (probably old dagobahs,) are its principal remains. It is still considered a sacred spot; and is a place of pilgrimage."
Various excavations have taken place at the site, beginning in 1884-86 by Stephen Montagu Burrows.
According to carbon dating, the ruins excavated were from the 10th century BC.
1890 map of Anuradhapura by Harry Charles Purvis Bell
The ruins consist of three classes of buildings, dagobas, monastic buildings, and pokunas. The dagobas are bell-shaped masses of masonry, varying from a few feet to over 1100 ft (340 m) in circumference. Some of them contain enough masonry to build a town for twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Remains of the monastic buildings are to be found in every direction in the shape of raised stone platforms, foundations and stone pillars. The most famous is the Brazen Palace erected by King Dutugamunu about 164 BC. The pokunas are bathing-tanks or tanks for the supply of drinking water, which are scattered everywhere through the jungle. The city also contains a sacred Bo-Tree, which is said to date back to the year 245 BC.
Anuradhapura: Eight Great Places of Veneration in Anuradhapura - Atamasthana
Main article: Atamasthana
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
Anuradhapura: Other structures
Abhayagiriya Monastery with Samadhi Statue, Kuttam Pokuna (twin pond) and moonstone.
% Of Total
Sri Lankan Moors
Sri Lankan Tamils
Other (including Burgher, Malay)
Source: www.statistics.gov.lk - Census 2001
Anuradhapura is served by railway and highways. The Northern railway line connects Anuradhapura with Colombo, Jaffna, and Kankesanthurai. Anuradhapura railway station is the city's rail gateway, with major services, such as the Yal Devi, calling there. Anuradhapura is a central city of Sri Lanka. It is directly connected to a large number of major cities and towns of the island. By road, it is connected to Vavuniya, Dambulla, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Kurunegala and Kandy. Due to its status as a crossroads city, the city is a good base for exploring many important ancient landmarks a short distance away.
Anuradhapura: Picture gallery
The Ruwanweli Saya dagoba in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Anuradhapura
A Moonstone from Anuradhapura
A vamana sculpture from Anuradhapura
Deraniyagala, SU. The Prehistory of Sri Lanka, Vol II, Department of Archaeological Survey, Colombo: 1992. p435.
Robert Knox (1681), Historical Relation chapter 2, full quote "There are besides these already mentioned, several other ruinous places that do still retain the name of Cities, where Kings have Reigned, tho now little Foot steps remaining of them. At the North end of this Kings Dominions is one of these Ruinous Cities, called Anurodgburro, where they say Ninety Kings have Reigned, the Spirits of whom they hold now to be Saints in Glory, having merited it by making Pagoda’s and Stone Pillars and Images to the honour of their Gods, whereof there are many yet remaining: which the Chingulayes count very meritorious to worship, and the next way to Heaven. Near by is a River, by which we came when we made our escape: all along which is abundance of hewed stones, some long for Pillars, some broad for paving. Over this River there have been three Stone Bridges built upon Stone Pillars, but now are fallen down; and the Countrey all desolate without Inhabitants. At this City of Anurodgburro is a Watch kept, beyond which are no more people that yield obedience to the King of Candy. This place is above Ninety miles to the Northward of the City of Candy. In these Northern Parts there are no Hills, nor but two or three Springs of running water, so that their Corn ripeneth with the help of Rain."
John Davy (1821), An Account, full quote: "Anooradapoora, so long the capital of Ceylon, is now a small mean village, in the midst of a desert. A large tank, numerous stone pillars, two or three immense tumuli, (probably old dagobahs,) are its principal remains. It is still considered a sacred spot; and is a place of pilgrimage. This information was collected partly from the natives, and partly from an officer who visited it during the rebellion."
Department of Archaeology - Sri Lanka: "The first methodical excavation of the Department of Archaeology had been carried out by Mr. S.M. Burrows in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa during 1884 to 1886. Subsequently, the exploration and excavation activities were undertaken mainly in Anuradhapura and Sigiriya with the guidance of Mr. H.C.P. Bell in 1890. Similarly archaeological excavations in Anuradhapura and other areas of the island were carried out under the supervision of Mr. E.M. Ayrton (1912-1914) and Mr. Raja De Silva (1983). Mr. E.M. Hocart who was appointed as the Commissioner of Archaeology in Sri Lanka in 1926, carried out excavations using the method of stratification, in places such as Mathota, Pomparippu, Anuradhapura inner city and Ambalantota."
Harischandra, B. W.: The Sacred City of Anuradhapura, Reprint. New Delhi, Asian Educational Services, 1998.
Nissanka, H.S.S.: Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka : The Oldest Historical Tree in the World, New Delhi 1996, (Reprint. Vikas)
R. A. E. Coningham.: The Origins of the Brahmi Script Reconsidered: The New Evidence from Anuradhapura, Minerva 8(2): 27-31, 1995.
R. A. E. Coningham.: Anuradhapura Citadel Archaeological Project: Preliminary Results of a Season of Geophysical Survey. South Asian Studies 10: 179-188, 1994.
A. Seneviratne.: Ancient Anuradhapura The Monastic City, Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. p. 310, 1994.
S. M. Burrows, The Buried Cities of Ceylon - A Guide Book to Anuradhapura and Polonaruwa Reprint, p. 120, 1999.
Anuradhapura: External links
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Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Anuradhapura.
UNESCO World Heritage List - Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura Case-Study by students of School of Planning & Architecture
Sacred City of Anuradhapura
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