Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.

The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 125 miles north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya.  From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. 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 16 square miles.

Although according to historical records the city was founded in the 5th century BC, the archaeological data put the date as far back as the 10th century BC. Very little evidence was available about the period before the 5th century BC (i.e., the protohistoric period), although excavations have revealed information about the earlier inhabitants of the city.

Further excavations in Anuradhapura have uncovered information about the existence of a protohistoric habitation of humans in the citadel. The protohistoric Iron Age which spans from 900 to 600 BC, marked the appearance of iron technology, pottery, the horse, domestic cattle, and paddy cultivation. In the time period 700 to 600 BC, the settlement in Anuradhapura had grown over an area of at least 125 square acres. The city was strategically situated with major ports to the northwest and northeast, and it was surrounded by irrigable and fertile land. The city was also buried deep in the jungle, providing natural defense from invaders.

Over time, large lakes were also constructed by the city's rulers to irrigate paddy lands and also to supply water to the city. Nuwara wewa and Tissa wewa are among the best known lakes in the city.

Anuradhapura attained its highest magnificence about the commencement of the Christian era. The city had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world, situated in the dry zone of the country the administration built many tanks to irrigate the land. Most of these tanks still survive.

The ruins consist of three classes of buildings, dagobas, monastic buildings, and pokunas. The dagobas are bell-shaped masses of masonry, varying from a few feet to over 1,100 feet in circumference. Some of them contain enough masonry to build a town for 25,000 inhabitants. Remains of the monastic buildings are found in every direction in the shape of raised stone platforms, foundations, and stone pillars. The most famous is the Brazen Palace erected by King Dutugamunu about 164 BC. The pokunas are bathing-tanks or tanks for the supply of drinking water, scattered everywhere through the jungle. The city also contains a sacred Bo-Tree, which is said to date back to the year 245 BC.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuradhapura