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Jetavanaramaya, Sri Lanka

Jetavanaramaya, Sri Lanka: Our most recommended tours and activities

The Ancient City of Anuradhapura Cycling Tour

1. The Ancient City of Anuradhapura Cycling Tour

Your tour will start at the Ranmasu Uyana (Royal Park) at approximately 8 AM where you will be met by your cycling guide and provided with bicycles and helmets as well as refreshments for the ride. Depart along the third-oldest manmade reservoir in Sri Lanka. The embankment of Tissa Wewa is 2 miles long and 25 feet tall. From Tissa Wewa, bike to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Anuradhapura City, where the ancient monuments and ruins lie. Your guide will tell you many native stories and legends about Anuradhapura along the way. En route to the city, stop by the Isurumuniya Temple, built by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC. This temple is the location of many famous stone carvings that you will get to see, including the Isurumuniya Lovers, the Royal Family, and the Elephant Bathing. Once you get to the Anuradhapura Ruins, view the Abhayagiri Stupa that was part of the massive Abhayagiri Monastery. The Stupa was the second largest brick structure in the world after Jetavanaramaya. You will be able to see the elaborate moonstones and the reclining Buddha. You will also be able to see the famous giant Samadhi Buddha statue and the beautifully designed Twin Ponds (Kuttam Pokuna) that were also part of the Abhayagiri Monastery.   After the Abhayagiri monastery area, continue to the Jetavana Pagoda, built in the 4th century AD and the largest brick structure of the ancient world. Jetavana remains an impressive sight with its carved bas reliefs, high arches, and beautifully shaped lotus pedestals. The last stop is at the Ruwanwelisaya Pagoda, the oldest that is still in use where you can see pilgrims worshipping. Here you’ll see plenty of elephant sculptures, from the full-sized elephant sculptures in the outer wall to the old stone elephants in the base of the stupa.

From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

2. From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

Following hotel pick-up by your driver and guide at 06:00 in the morning from Colombo City area, you'll start for Anuradhapura. On arrival at Anuradhapura your first stop will be the Anuradhapura World Heritage Site and ruins. Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its well-preserved ruins depicting the illustrious ancient Lankan civilization. There are several interesting locations one can visit, namely, the majestic Ruwanweliseya Stupa, one of the largest structures of the ancient world, Brazen Palace with its 1,600 stone columns showing the remnants of a multi-storied residence for monks, Isurumuniya rock carving of ‘The Two Lovers’, the twin ponds used by Buddhist monks as a bathing pool and Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest Dagoba in the country believed to enshrine the collarbone of the Buddha himself and several other dagobas. Next you'll head to explore Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The Sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is reckoned as the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahameghavana Park in Anuradhapura in 249 BC by King Devanampiyatissa. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Then start for Jethawanaramaya Stupa. The Jethawana stupa, the central ritual monument of the Jethawana monastery, had a diameter of 370 feet. Established in the 3rd century A.D., the monastery was the residence of 3,000 monks. Recent excavations confirm that the foundation of the stupa was 28 feet deep and rested on bedrock. This stupa, the tallest brick structure in the world, was built in keeping with engineering principles which are fol­lowed even today.  You'll explore Abhayagiri Dagoba. The Abhayagiri Dagoba is the second biggest brick structure in the world after the Jetavana Dagoba. It was built by King Gajabahu (114-136 AD) and reaches a height of 370 feet (115m). After lunch at local restaurant by your own cost proceed to Moonstone or Sandakada pahana. Sandakada pahana, also known as Moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sri Lankan Buddhist architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy period. Later visit Mihintale. Mihintale hill is the spot where King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura met Mahinda, a Buddhist monk and son of the Indian Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka. Mahinda asked the king a riddle and when the king was able to solve it, Mahinda deemed him to be a worthy disciple and converted him to Buddhism. There are religious monuments all over the hill, and the ruins of a monastery and a hospital. At approximately 20:00, you'll arrive back at your hotel in Colombo where the tour will end.

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