Sin: අනුරාධපුර anurādhapura – Tam: அனுராதபுரம் aṉurātapuram

‘Anuradha’s City’  – City/Ancient Capital/District/Archaeological Site, NCP,  Sri Lanka

From Anurādha and Skt: pur/pura, ‘(walled) city, fort, settlement’. 

The ancient capital of Sri Lanka was first settled by Anurādha (a follower of Prince Vijaya, the legendary first settler and founder of the Sinhala kingdom in the 5thC BC).

King Pandukabhaya made it his capital in the 4thC BC, planning the city and its suburbs in meticulous detail. The city remained the political, cultural and religious capital for 1,300 years until it was abandoned and the inhabitants migrated south.

The site was reclaimed from the jungle and is now an important pilgrimage and heritage site with many important Buddhist monuments. These include (1)  the Sri Maha Bodhi, a tree grown from a cutting off the original Bodhi tree [Ficus religiosa] under which the Buddha attaineed Enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in Bihar. It was brought here in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, daughter of Emperor Ashoka and the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns; and (2) the Ruwanweli Maha Seya or Mahathupa, ‘Great Stupa’, built in the 2ndC BCE by King Duthugemunu, which contains the  largest collection of the Buddha’s relics anywhere.

For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names.


The 2ndC BCE Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba at Anuradhapura                David Stanley