Travel Guide Asia Sri Lanka Anuradhapura





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The second largest district of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura has several ancient ruins for the traveller to explore. The main city area is divided into two parts - the old city which is the sacred part of the district for Buddhists, as well as of more interest to the traveller and the new city, where the commercial hub is located.



Sights and Activities

Sri Maha Bodiya

Of all the pilgrimage places in Anuradhapura, the Sri Maha Bodiya is the most important. This site is where an ancient Bo tree, believed to be from the sapling that Emperor Asoka's children brought to Sri Lanka when they came to spread the philosophy of Buddha in the island. Around the venerated tree are numerous other Bo trees said to have been planted in the past to confuse invading armies in their quest to destroy the tree. Today, this place is an essential pilgrimage point for Buddhists.

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Amongst the numerous ruins in the old, sacred city, some of the other pilgrimage sites are the Ruwanwelisaya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiri Dagaba, Jetavanarama, Mirisaveti Stupa and Lankarama.


East of Anuradhapura city is another major Buddhist pilgrimage site in the country: Mihintale - the place where Mahinda, the Buddhist monk is said to have arrived from India on the June full moon day (Poson poya) and preached the Buddhist doctrine to King Devanampiya Tissa. As the starting point of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the day and place is a pilgrimage point for Buddhists. The King subsequently built caves and temples for the Buddhist monks, which provides an interesting insight into the days past for the traveller today. There is also the ruins of a hospital complex, believed to be the oldest in the world, in Mihintale.

Other Ruins

  • Nuwara wewa, located at Thammanakulama, is one of the most important ancient tanks in Sri Lanka that has survived and is still in use.
  • Ritigala close to Mihintale is a nature reserve, where it is believed that an ancient jungle monastery was located. Several ruins from the 4th century B.C. are located here.




Anuradhapura is in the dry zone of Sri Lanka so it can be very dry and hot in the district and one is advised to drink a lot of fluids while travelling around the district to avoid dehydration.

Avg Max29.6 °C31.7 °C33.8 °C34.3 °C32.9 °C32.7 °C33 °C33.2 °C33.1 °C32 °C30.3 °C29.1 °C
Avg Min20.9 °C21.3 °C22.9 °C24.1 °C24.8 °C24.9 °C24.5 °C24.4 °C24.1 °C23.3 °C22.5 °C21.9 °C
Rainfall79.2 mm55.4 mm68.7 mm151.6 mm84.3 mm9.4 mm27.1 mm39.8 mm74 mm254.5 mm229.7 mm210.9 mm
Rain Days6451262336141614



Getting There

By Train

There is a daily train from Colombo to Anuradhapura and even further up to Medawachiya.

By Car

It is a 5 hour drive from Colombo to Anuradhapura on a private vehicle. From Polonnaruwa or Kandy, it is about 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive.

By Bus

Using the bus will take longer as the public bus stops at bus halts in the towns along the way as well as rest stops.

By Boat

Anuradhapura is land-locked



Getting Around

By Car

Your hotel will probably be able to arrange a private vehicle for you. For sightseeing purposes, it is best to have your own vehicle. There is also a vehicle depot near the bus stand, where you can go directly in the morning and negotiate for a van to be rented for the day. This is cheaper.

By Public Transport

As the bus is the main mode of transport for the local population, there are numerous buses leaving the main depot to several places. If you are confident that you will be able to find the place you are going to, this may be adventurous.

By Foot

As Anuradhapura is a large district, it is quite difficult to navigate it on foot, except in the main town area where the offices, shops and eateries are located.




There are not many places to chose from to eat in Anuradhapura especially as the bulk of the visitors to the district are pilgrims who cook their own food. There are a couple of cheap eateries in the new town. It is better to eat at the hotel where you are staying at as the places to eat are limited and not so great. Further, it is better not to be adventurous but to go for the simple and fresh Sri Lankan meals here.

  • Hotel Chintana is one of the common places for buying takeway meals which are under 3 dollars.
  • Hotel Grand is another grandiose sounding eatery, which serves decent food for around 10 dollars a person. The menu is limited but nice.




The water in the North Central province is difficult to drink for those not used to it. It has a high acidic content due to the lime content in the water as it is the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Hence, it is advisable to drink bottled water.





  • CTC Reception Hall has airconditioned double rooms for around LKR 1500; restaurant available for meals.
  • Rathnamali Pilgrim's Rest has airconditioned double rooms for around LKR 1000; no restaurant.
  • Tourist Board Resthouse.


  • Galway Miridiya Hotel has airconditioned double rooms for around LKR 5500, on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • Nuwara Wewa Resthouse is part of the Government run Ceylon Hotels Corporation chain.
  • Tissa Wewa Resthouse.


  • Palm Garden Village Hotel has rooms for around LKR 10,000 (the best available accommodation in Anuradhapura district).

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Internet cafes are available in all the cities and these are cheap and easy to access. Most hotels have internet access as well but are relatively expensive. There are various internet service providers (Sri Lanka Telecom, Dialog, Mobitel etc.) providing different packages: ADSL broadband, dial-up, WiFi. Please contact a service provider to learn more about the packages and prices.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for Sri Lanka is 94. Remove the intercity prefix (0) before the area code when dialling internationally into the country (i.e., 0112 688 688 becomes +94 112 688 688) when dialling from abroad). The two next numbers after 94 represents the area code, they are different for every district.

The use of GSM cellphones is widespread and the coverage is good. Dialog and Mobitel are two operators that have sales offices at the airport inside the arrivals lounge. Dialog Mobile has the widest coverage in the country including rural areas and has the best quality GSM / 3G / HSPA +/4G network. Mobitel also has a 3G/HSPA+ network. All the mobile operators are having same call rates due to floor rate tariffs. Therefore it is advisable to go to the network which offers you the best quality. All Mobile Operators offers cheap IDD Call rates. If you want to surf internet, best way is to buy a HSPA dongle and a Mobile Broadband connection. Dialog Mobile, Mobitel, hutch, Etisalat and Airtel offers prepaid Mobile Broadband services which can be activated and used immediately. Dialog is the Vodafone Roaming Network in Sri Lanka and offers the best range of Value added services for Roamers and the rates are cheaper. Etisalat and Airtel also provide cheap roaming rates specially to India.


Sri Lankan Post is the national postal company. Each city/town has a main post office and the villages will have access to sub post offices, either at the village or nearby village. Local post, through normal mail, is cheap and fast. However, to ensure that the post has reached recipient, it is better to send by registered post which will allow you to have a reference number which you can later use to check with your post office that your mail has reached its destination. There are local courier services. Aramex and Pronto are some of the ones in Colombo and they deliver mail the same day or overnight. For better tracking and fast services companies like DHL, or TNT provide a good service but are more expensive.

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 8.3147
  • Longitude: 80.414703

Accommodation in Anuradhapura

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