Anuradhapura District

Anuradhapura District is the largest district in Sri Lanka with 7,179 km² of area. Anuradhapura district is bounded by Mannar, Mulathiv and Vavnia districts by North, Kurunegala & Mathale districts by South, Puttalam from west and Pollnnaruawa and Trincomalee districts from east.
Anuradhapura is the first capital city of Sri Lanka. This capital city was first founded by King Pandukabhaya in 377 BC. Upon the Arrival of Buddhism with Arahath Maninda Thero, Anuradhapura became more established city in the country with many rich cultural & religious values. Kings of Anuradhapura became the ruler of entire Sri Lanka. There are many sacred Buddhist places such as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanmeli Maha seya located in this district. Kingdom Of Anuradhapura was under invasion from South Indian kings time to time and then Polonnaruwa became the capital city of Sri Lanka.
The population according to the 2001 census is 745,693, of whom 90.7% were Sinhalese, 8.3% Sri Lankan Moors, 0.7% native Sri Lankan Tamils and 0.1% Tamils of Indian origin. 90.0% of the population are Buddhists, 8.4% Muslim, 1.1% Christian and 0.5% Hindu. Agriculture is the main source of income and there are many tanks, which were built by ancients kings still in use.


Recorded history refers to Anuradhapura as the first capital of Sri Lanka. This extensive city still holds relics of architectural ruins of its ancient kingdom and Buddhist temples not seen in most parts of the world. Be prepared to grip history the minute you step into this sacred city; Anuradhapura. It is the base of ancient civilization in Sri Lanka and an ancient city with a rich heritage in history, culture, politics and religion.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a deep insight into the life and times of the majestic kings of Sri Lanka and the engineering and architectural potential of the times.
The most famed monument is the ruins of the Brazen Palace and the Ruwanwelisaya built by King Dutugamunu in 164 BCE. Anuradhapura is one of the three stunning locations in the Cultural Triangle. Mahamevuna Uyana houses the Sacred Bo Tree or Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest authenticated sacred tree, which is said to date back to BCE and planted from a sapling from the sanctified tree under which the Lord Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. Another magnificent sight is the Jetavanaramaya, the largest Dagoba in the world. The city is spread with ruins of ancient Dagobas and other sites of religious significance. Their complicated carvings and sculptures are remarkable and the ancient stones speak of the days of yore when the city was ruled by brave kings presided over by Buddhist clergy.
Pilgrims around the world flock to Anuradhapura; it is regarded as a place where Buddhism is safeguarded for humanity. It is so unfortunate that the city finally declined in importance due to foreign invasions and went into disorder. Polonnaruwa gained prominence in the 10th century AD. A complete Archaeological Museum located in the city offers a greater understanding of the city’s unique monuments. The city remained the capital for almost 1,000 years and during the height of its rise, commanded great respect and power internationality. There is little to do in the city apart from visiting the ancient temples, monasteries and tanks.
The places of interest are Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanweliseya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiri Dagoba, Jetavanaramaya, Mirisaveti Stupa and Lankarama. The other constructions of importance are Isurumuniya, Magul Uyana, Vessagiri, Ratna Prasadaya, and Queen’s palace, Dakkhina Stupa, Sela Cetiya, Naka Vihara, Kiribath Vehera, Kuttam Pokuna, Samadhi Statue and the Toluwila Statue.
Activities : Archaeology, Architecture, Historicity, Photography, Worship


The sacred hill of Mihintale is where Mahida, son of the Indian king Asoka, converted King Devanambiya Tissa to Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. It is said that King Tissa was chasing a stag during a hunting trip in the hills of Mihintale when he was approached by Mahinda, who wished to test the intelligence of the king with riddle. King Tissa passed the test and was converted there and then along with his retinue of 40,000 courtiers. An important religious site, Mihintale attracts a large number of Buddhist pilgrims, particularly on Poson Poya Day in June. Exploring the site involves long climbs, so it is a good idea to visit it early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Aradhana Gala: A set of steep stairs leads up to the upper terrace, where visitors have to buy a ticket and remove their shoes and hats. At the centre of the terrace is the Ambasthala Dagoba, which is believed to mark the spot where Mahinda met King Devanambiya Tissa. Next to it is a stone carving of the Buddha’s footprint surrounded by railings and with coins offered by pilgrims scattered all over it. The ancient headless statue nearby is said to be King Tissa. On the opposite side of the terrace are steps leading up to the big white seated Buddha statue. East of the Ambasthala Dagoba, a flight of rock-cut steps leads to Aradhana Gala (meditation rock) from where there are great views of the surrounding countryside and the grand Mahaseya Dagoba. A path from southwest corner of the terrace, leads down to Mahinda’s Cave, a space beneath a huge boulder with a large flat stone believed to have been his bed.

Stairway: Shaded by frangipani trees, the stairway leading to the summit comprises 1,840 rock-cut steps interspersed with terraces that allow visitors to catch their breath. While the first flight of stairs is broad and shallow, the ones higher up are narrower and steeper. However, visitors who have difficulty climbing stairs can drive up Old road and park near the Refectory Terrace to avoid the first set of steps.
Kantake Chetiya: At the first small landing, steps lead off on the right to the remains of the Kantaka Chetiya dagoba, the oldest at Mihintale. Originally higher than 30 m. The dagobastands at a height of only 12 m. it has four vahalkadas (frontispieces) in the four cardinal directions and each of these is adorned with carvings of geese, dwarves and elephants. Some of the vahalkadasare flanked by stone columns that are ornamented with sculpted flowers and birds, and topped with figurines of animals. South of the dagoba is an enormous boulder bearing an ancient inscription in early proto-Brahmi script. There are caves and meditation ledges to explore nearby.
Activities : Archaeology, Architecture, Photography, Sightseeing


A small, laid-back village, Habarana sits on an important route that connects the cities of Anuradhapura and Polannaruwa. It is a major transport junction, with roads leading north towards Trincomalee and Jaffna as well as south towards Kandy and Colombo. Habarana does not boasts of many attractions. However, it is convenient base to explore the Cultural Triangle as it offers easy access to almost all important sights, such as Anuradhapura, Polannaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. A safari to Minneriya or Kaudulla national parks, or Hurulu Eco Park to observe elephants and other wildlife can also be easily arranged from Habarana. There is a decent choice of relatively upmarket accommodation for tourists.
This village is home to the Habarana Lake, around which tour operators organize elephant rides. The footpath around the placid lake is great for a leisurely evening stroll. For those looking to relax after day of sightseeing, there are number of establishments in around the village that offer personalized Ayurvedic treatments.
Activities : A leisurely stroll, Cycling, Elephant back riding, Photography, Sightseeing, Village Expeditons

Wilpattu National Park

At 1,320 sq km (510 sq miles), Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka comprising a wide range of habitats, including thick jungle, grassy plains, a section of coastline as well as a series of villus (natural lakes). Although most of the large mammals found in Sri Lanka, such as elephants, barking deer and water buffaloes, can be seen here, leopards are the biggest attraction. The park is also home to the elusive sloth bear.
Before the Civil War, Wilpattu was one of the island’s most popular parks. However, it was shut down in 1985 following an attack on its wardens by LTTE cadres. The park reopened briefly between 2003 and 2006, but was closed again until it started welcoming tourists once more in 2010.
Wilpattu is a lot quieter than other Sri Lankan national parks. Wildlife suffered greatly at the hands of poachers during the Civil War and is still recovering; numbers here are significantly lower than in parks such as Yala and Udawalawe. Also the vast expanse and thick undergrowth of the park keep animal sightings few and far between. Birders should have more luck than wildlife enthusiasts – Wilpattu is home to birds such as the crested serpent eagle, the brown fish owl and the brown-capped woodpecker. In addition, visitors may catch sight of crocodiles and water monitors in the villus.
For the last few years Wilpattu has been at the centre of a conflict between conservationists and the government. A Chinese-funded road, being built through the park to link Puttalam with Mannar, was considered “illegal” by conservationists because it passed through a recognized national park. Environmentalists highlighted the damage that the construction would cause to the park’s ecology and wildlife. As a result, work on the road has been halted, but it is yet to be seen if the jungle will be the left reclaim area.
Activities : Wildlife, Jeep Safari, Photography, Sightseeing
Anuradhapura is a district in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Its area is 7,179 km². The main places in Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Habarana, Wilpattu National Park.