Tour of Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka’s most famous ancient towns, will need an entire day. Hence, schedule accordingly. The town is famous for its many many Buddhist Stupas. Hopping from one to the other easily takes about 4-5 hours. Now, we were staying at the Cinnamon in Habarana (Review of Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana). This meant a 2 and half hour drive one way. That’s about 5 hours of driving. Which is why, scheduling one full day is necessary.
The tour generally starts from the Anuradhapura Museum and takes you through eleven places of interest. They are – Jethawanaramaya, one of the highest stupas in the world; Kuttam Pokuna, bathing tanks of Busshist monks; Samadji Statue, where the Buddha can be seen sitting in meditation; Abayagiriya, the second oldest stupa in Anuradhapura; Moonstones, an exquisite scroll of Buddhist teachings and beliefs; Lankaramaya, a majestic white stupa with pillars running around it; Thuparamaya, the first Buddhist building in Anuradhapura; Ruwanwaliseya, another white stupa dating back to the 1st century BC; Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the Bodhi tree with a temple; Mirisawetiya, a stupa built by a king who saw miracle happening in front of his eyes; Isurumuniya, a vihara situate above a cliff and connected to a cave, this is the best of them all; Lowamahapaya, also known as the Brazen Palace; Mihintalaya, a monastic city of caves, temples and ruins.
Musts for the Anuradhapura Tour:
- Since it is a religious town, you will have to adhere to the dress code. That’s, for women, arms, legs and necklines need to be covered. Men, too, need to wear trousers and not shorts. Children are exempted from this regulation. However, I took no chances with my 8 year old daughter. Note also, that you will need to walk barefeet at the stupa premises. The premises, however, are extremely well maintained and are spic and span.
- Remember, Anuradhapura is a little town. And the Stupas are spread all across. This entails a whole lot of driving from one Stupa to another and also a fair bit of walking. Ensure you are wearing the right shoes.
- With so many Stupas and places to see and with years of history associated with the town, you will definitely need a guide for your tour to be worthwhile. Else, you will not be able to sustain your interest and curiosity levels from one to the other. Also ensure you are carrying a map of Anuradhapura. Most hotels have it.
- The old town of Anuradhapura is a little away from the new town. This means, by the time you are hungry for lunch, you might be deep inside the old town and perhaps won’t have the time to spare for a sortie to the new town for lunch. What’s more, clean and good restaurants and eating joints are difficult to find in the old town. It therefore makes sense to have your hotel pack some dry lunch for you.
- Finally, carry enough snacks and water, and wear enough sunscreen…P.S: For a complete Sri Lanka itinerary and tour details, read — Best Itinerary & Blogs for Sri Lanka Road Trip