Anuradhapura 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 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 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).
This somnolent village and temple complex, 13km east of Anuradhapura, holds a special place in the annals of Sri Lankan lore. In 247 BC King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura was hunting a stag on Mihintale Hill when he was approached by Mahinda, son of the great Indian Buddhist emperor, Ashoka. Mahinda tested the king’s wisdom and, considering him to be a worthy disciple, promptly converted the king on the spot. Mihintale has since been associated with the earliest introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Each year a great festival, the Poson Poya, is held at Mihintale on the Poson full-moon night (usually in June).
Abhayagiri Monastery in Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura established in the second century B.C., by King Valagamabau, during its glorious days, was not only complex of monastic buildings, but also a great seat of learning. Unlike orthodox Mahavihara monastery, Abhayagiri Monastery accommodated the intellectual discussion on various schools of Buddhist thought in addition to Theravada Buddhism, considered as the pure words of Buddha. The center of attraction of the monastery was Abhayagiri stupa, the second tallest stupa at Anuradhapura, also built by King Valagambahu (89-77 BC).Rathna Prasada, Kuttam Pokuna, Moonstone , Gardstone , Elephant pond, Refectory, Audience hall, are the attractions in Abhayagiriya.
The Jetavana Dagoba is part of the 3rd century Jetavanamaya, or Jetavana Monastery, which was the residence for 3000 monks. The monastery was founded by King Mahasena (276-303AD), the first in a line of great tank builders of ancient Lanka. The site is also called Jethawanaramaya Dagoba, after the stupa and the monastery. The compound is almost perfectly square, with entrances at each cardinal direction. This monstrous stupa has a diameter of 367ft (113m), a testament to the engineering feat from 1,600 years ago. Archaeologists undertaking recent excavations discovered that its foundation is 252 feet deep (I previously reported it as 27 feet!), sitting on the bedrock. It stands of a square platform eight acres in extent.
Maha Vihara Monastery
The Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya was an important Mahavihara or large Buddhist monastery for Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was founded by King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (247–207 BCE) in his capital city of Anuradhapura. The Mahavihara was the place where the Mahavihara orthodoxy was established by monks such as Buddhaghosa. The monks living at the Mahavihara were referred to as Mahaviharavasins. In the 5th century, the "Mahavihara" was possibly the most sophisticated university in southern or eastern Asia. Many international scholars visited and learned many disciplines under highly structured instruction. Important sites in Mahavihara site are Sri Mahaboodhiya, Ruwanweliseya and Thuparamaya.