Anuradhapura : The sacred city

Trip Start Dec 22, 2005
Trip End Jan 02, 2006

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, December 29, 2005

Early start yet again. Head to the bus station( by now I suspect everyone at the bus stand are beginning to recognize us!) We hop onto an Inter city bus that would take us to Anuradhapura.

Once there, we discovered that we did not have a clear picture of what to do! Unlike Sigiriya and the others which is one specific destination, Anuradhapura is a whole town scattered with things to see - far and in between. So we do the next best thing, hire a tuk tuk to take us around.
Anuradhapura :
Background : This sacred city was established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment', the Buddha's fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again.
Here one finds the remains of a flourishing ancient civilisation. This great past is reflected in the huge Dagobas, palaces and monuments. Its impressive remains were discovered in the early 19th century and have been in the process of restoration ever since. They lie to the west and north of the modern town of Anuradhapura.

Here you will find the Sacred Bo-Tree - over 2,000 years old. The Sacred Bo-Tree is the city's holiest site, and was grown from the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment - originally a sapling from the tree in North India.

The Isurumuniya Temple (3rd century B.C.) with its unique sculptures stands beside the breezy bund of the Tissawewa - a huge fresh water tank; while in the heart of the city stands the white-stone Ruwanveliseya Dagoba surrounded by a wall of carved elephant heads.

There are also museums that invite exploration, marvellously restored twin ponds which were used by monks as ritual baths, and immense tanks built to provide irrigation water for the growing of rice. Other Attractions worth seeing are:- The Broken Palace, Samadhi Buddha, Kuttam Pokuna and Mirisavati Dagaba.

We try and explore as much as possible - the bodhi tree, a couple of archaeological museums, the abhigaya monastery, isurumuniya temple, the broken palace - but there are too many places to see and so much to digest! Ideally one would need to spend at least a couple of days in this ancient city to grasp the significance and splendour of this beautiful place but sadly we could not. We did get in as much as we could in half a day though.

Reach Kandy around 7.30pm, clear our bills with the monk and head for dinner at Hotel Casamara, at the rooftop bar. The rooftop bar is a bit of an anticlimax but it does offer a nice aerial view of the city.
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