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Anuradhapura- Ancient City of Worship

Anuradhapura is situated in the North Central province of Sri Lanka. It can be reached from Colombo via Kurunegala -Dambulla -Anuradhapura road, or via Kandy-Dambulla- Anuradhapura road, or from Puttalam along Trincomalee road.

According to the chronicle Mahawanasa, Anuradhapura was named after the minister Anuradha, who came along with Prince Vijaya (and hundreds of followers) from Dambadiva, India in the 6th Century BC, and started the settlement by the side of River Malwatu. Along with the natives of the island, they formed the Sinhala nation. The native clans were called as Yakshas and Nagas.

King Pandukabhaya made Anuradhapura the capitol of his kingdom in the 4th Century BC. It remained capitol for 15 centuries and was a prominent political and trade center in South Asia during this period.

Around 250 BC, King Asoka became the Emperor of India, and a Buddhist. His son Mahinda and daughter Sangamitta were ordained as a Bhikku and a Bhikkuni (Buddhist priest and nun), and became Arahath. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Asoka sent nine Buddhist delegates to nine countries. Due to close links with the King of Anuradhapura, Devanampiya Tissa, Emperor Asoka sent one of the delegates, Arahath Mahinda, to Sri Lanka.

Arahath Mahinda met King Devanampiya Tissa at a place called Mihintale Rock, about 12 km from Anuradhapura. It was a full moon day in June.  The King embraced Buddhism after they spoke.

Arahath Mahinda spent the rest of his life in Sri Lanka. With the patronage of the King, he started the Gauthama Buddha Sasanaya (Buddhist order of the Lord Gauthama Buddha).

Thus began an era of culture interwoven with Buddhist philosophy. It stimulated agriculture, education,  and peace. Architectural remains can still be seen, and give a glimpse of what the country was like at that time.


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