Of all Sri Lanka’s early cities and capitals Anuradhapura is, without doubt, the finest and most renowned. At the time when culture was at its infancy in many countries in the world, here was a classical city and civilization, which flourished in the arts, the humanities, hydraulic technology, and of course, Buddhism. Anuradhapura served as a capital for 1,400 years before its fall to South Indian invaders.
The history of the area dates back to 400 BC to the advent of Prince Vijaya, the legendary founder of the Sinhalese race and his 700 followers from the eastern Indian city Kalinga, from where he was banished. He landed in the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka in the vicinity of Anuradhapura.
It was one of his ministers – Anuradha – who established the Anuradha Gama (gama: village) which expanded to become a capital (pura) and hence, Anuradhapura, the northern capital of the country.
During the 1,400 years that Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka’s capital, massive stupas, large tanks enhancing agriculture, monasteries, great buildings, and palaces were constructed, along with gardens, hospitals, and alms halls.