Published: June 18th 2012April 28th 2012
We hadn't planned on visiting Anuradhapura, thinking it was too much to cover in this short trip. But, since we had a good day before when we climbed Sigiriya at sunset, and not sun-up on the 28th as originally planned, Anuradhapura came onto our plans.
Anuradhapura was the first capital of Lanka. Most of the structures are around 2000 or so years old, give or take a few hundred years. Since it lies in the flat open fields, it turned out to be hard to defend. The invading Chola armies from South India made regular forays and sacked Anuradhapura a few times. The next set of dynasties moved the capital to Polonnaruwa, because it was easier to defend.
We arrived in Anuradhapura the weekend before Vesak ceremonies. On the road we saw a perahara (procession) that had set out on foot from Kandy about 4 days before carrying a long Buddha flag that was later draped around the Ruwanvelisaya Dagaba. The Ruwanvelisaya was in the process of getting completely white washed. It looked brand spanking new. Both Jethvanaramaya and Abayagiriya were under major re-construction projects. At the original time of construction, Jethvanaramaya was the 3'rd largest man made structure
in the world - after the 2 larger Pyramids at Giza. About a hundred years ago, some British officer calculated that if you took all the bricks that were in the Abayagiriya, you could build a 3 feet tall wall from London to Edinburgh. Yep! These structures are not hollow. They are solid brick. The latest reconstruction efforts are adding to the outer layer like previous times, but replacing the outer damaged and eroded bricks.
There are more photos below