The Tree Under Which Buddha Gained Enlightenment Was Brought To This Sri Lankan City, A Living Legacy

Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases spiritual grandeur and architectural brilliance.

by Mallika Khurana
The Tree Under Which Buddha Gained Enlightenment Was Brought To This Sri Lankan City, A Living Legacy

Every time we think of travelling to Sri Lanka, we are amused by the idea of tall buildings, scrumptious bites, pleasant views and so much more. However, if there is one thing that skips our minds, it’s the culture and history of the country that resonates with Indian history as well. And that brings us to Anuradhapura. This ancient city is steeped in history and spirituality and stands as an awe-inspiring testament to ancient Sri Lanka’s grandeur. Founded in the 4th century BCE by King Pandukabhaya, this city was also the capital for over six centuries.

Anuradhapura’s Ancestral Link To Bodh Gaya

bo tree
Photo Credits: Canva

During all those centuries, this city flourished. Anuradhapura was adorned with colossal stupas, resplendent temples, and sprawling monasteries. Among these architectural marvels, the Abhayagiri Dagoba is the one that gained the most popularity and still does. This structure once soared to over 100 metres in height, rivalling the grandeur of the Egyptian pyramids. Today, its 75-meter stature still captivates visitors.

What is the city’s connection with India, you ask? At the core of Anuradhapura’s spiritual charm stands the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree. This majestic tree is not only the oldest historically recorded tree globally; this Bodhi tree finds its lineage in India. It is believed that a branch from the original Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, was planted here in Sri Lanka. It was the tree where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. After over 2,000 years, this tree still remains a pilgrimage site. It draws thousands of devotees who offer prayers and homage, especially during the auspicious full moon days.

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The Modern City Amidst Sri Lanka’s Ancient Ruin

history sri lanka
Photo Credits: Canva

Naturally, the city’s history also intertwines with Buddhism’s spread in Sri Lanka. It was initiated by the emissaries of Emperor Ashoka; he sent his children to spread the word. As Buddhism flourished, Anuradhapura witnessed a golden era of religious vibrance. The entire city was soon embellished with stupas, monasteries, and relics. However, it also weathered invasions and turmoil, leading to its eventual decline and abandonment in the 11th century.

It was later rediscovered during the British colonial era. Later, Anuradhapura underwent meticulous excavations, revealing its rich cultural heritage. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, the city became a magnet for tourists and pilgrims alike. It was soon a must-visit for everyone who wished to witness its ancient splendour and spiritual aura. Despite its ancient glory, Anuradhapura is not just a relic of the past. 

When in Sri Lanka, don’t forget to explore this beautiful city.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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