Anuradhapura, according to legend, was first settled by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya the founder of the Sinhala race. Later, it was made the Capital by King Pandukabhaya about 380 BCE.
According to the Mahavamsa, the epic of Sinhala History, King Pandukabhaya’s city was a model of planning. Precincts were set aside for huntsmen, for scavengers and heretics as well as for foreigners. There were hostels and hospitals, at least one Jain chapel, and cemeteries for high and low castes.
Water supply was assured by the construction of tanks, artificial reservoirs, of which the one called after him, exists to this day under the altered name of Baswak Kulam.
King Devanampiya Tissa
It was in the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BCE) that the Arahat Mahinda. Son of the great Buddhist Emperor Asoka led a group of missionaries from North India to Sri Lanka. With his followers he settled in a hermitage of caves on the hill of Mihintale, (literally, Mahinda s Mountain).
The new religion swept over the land in a wave. The King himself gave for a great monastery in the very heart of the city his own Royal Park- the beautiful Mahamegha Gardens.
The Buddhist principality had but a century to flourish when it was temporarily overthrown by an invader from the Chola Kingdom of South India. The religion, however, received no set-back.
At this time far away on the southeast coast, was growing up the prince who was to become the paladin of Sinhala nationalism: Gamini, soon to be surnamed Dutta, the Undutiful (161 - 137 BCE). For his entire martial prowess, King Dutta Gamini must have been a man of a singular sensibility. The lives he had had to take weighed heavily upon him, for slaughter-in any cause- is repugnant to the sincere Buddhist; and the better part of his regime was devoted to expiatory service to the Sangha.
The Mirisavati Temple and the mighty Brazen Palace nine stories high, he presented to them. But he did not live to see the actual completion of the Ruvanveliseya Dagaba, his most magnificent gift.
Two more, at least, of the Anuradhapura Kings must be mentioned; if only because some of the greater monuments are indisputably attributable to them.
King Vattagamani Abhaya
The earlier of these was Vattagamani Abhaya, Valagam Bahu (103 & 89-77 BCE) in the first year of whose reign Chola invaders again appeared and drove him temporarily into hiding. For fourteen years, while five Tamil Kings occupied his throne, he wandered often sheltering in Jungle caves. It is recorded that as in his flight he passed an ancient Jain hermitage, an ascetic, Giri called and taunted him. The great black lion is fleeing! Throughout his exile the gibe rankled.
Winning the Kingdom back, at last, he razed the Giri s hermitage to the ground, building there the Abhayagiri Monastery. The name is a wry can’t on his name and the tactless hermit s as well as (Meaning Mountain of fearlessness) a disclaimer of his cowardice!
Next came the heretic king Mahasena (274 - 301 A.D.). He alienated to the Abhayagiri vast spoil from the Maha Monastery, Devanampiyatissa's original foundation. But he had a more substantial claim to notability than his heresy; not only did he build (for the heretics) Sri Lanka's vastest completed Dagaba the Jetavana Ramaya, - but he was also the greatest irrigator of the Sinhala Kings, building 16 major tanks and great canals.
Anuradhapura was to continue for six hundred years longer as the national capital. But as the protecting wilderness round it diminished with prosperity, and internecine struggles for the royal succession grew, it became more and more vulnerable to the pressures of South Indian expansion. The final blow came when the Chola King Rajaraja I invaded Sri Lanka, burnt and looted the city. Anuradhapura was finally abandoned and the Capital has withdrawn to more secluded fastness.
But the monuments of its heyday survive, surrounded by such beauties as become the past: the solemn umbrage of trees, the silence of cold stone, and the serenity of the sheltering sky.
"We came for a wedding and then embarked on an amazing holiday. Cyril show us magnificent sights and scenery of Sri Lanka. To do the country just we need to return with more time. Many of the sites we visited just made us want to know more about them, even though Cyril was a fountain of knowledge. We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Cyril and his excellent company, and it was so nice to go home a guardian angel looking after us. He is consistently courteous & good humored and now fe..." Andy Powell UK
"We would like to say thank you very much Mr. Cyril for the excellent 7 night tour of Sri Lanka you provided us. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sri Lanka and the itinerary you arranged. The four hotels (Earls Regency, Amaya Lake, Heritance Kandalama and the Colombo Hilton) were excellent and thoroughly deserved their 5 stars. Your driving skills was excellent. Also very friendly, calm, helpful, and courteous and always prompts. Sri Lanka is a lovely country and the people were very friendly. ..." Suresh and Prashanth
"Cyril was absolutly Fantastic,Veryhelpful, Patient and extremly knowledgable. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend and travel with him again. Whole tour was well organized and perfectly done. Kate Williams and family from UK 04th January 2015" Kate Williams UK
"We had an excellent and memorable trip and all credits to Cyril. In-depth knowledge about the places, roads and history and culture. From the airport assistance - Food, accommodation provided and the vehicle was excellent. Very matured and patient, We being on safe hands. Thanks for making it a memorable experience for all of us. " Aubry De Souza and group from Dubai
"Thank you so much for your great service and making our honeymoon in Sri Lanka, so special and joyful. Best regards from Yuffa and Elad Abbo – Israel- 10 July 2008 " Yuffa and Elad Abbo - Israel
"Dear Cyril, We would like to thank youthat you have arrange ourholiday which we have enjoyed so much, that we can call them the best holiday we have ever had. You are avery helpful guide- because you know about your beautiful country very much. We also appriciate your advices that you gave us during our two weeks long journey and your perfect trip arrangement we have enjoyed every single day. All the best to you and your family. Hope to see you again. Martha & Jarda 08 No..." Martha & Jaroslav Jirout
"We are an older couple celebrating a lot of years of marriage (and hiking) in Sri Lanka in February this year, for two weeks, and three days in the Maldives. Although we love to drive, we chose to go with a driver-guide, after planning the trip completely independently. (It turned out he might help us in the planning and selection of hotels, we own). The main advantage is reaching the sites, some of which are tired, refreshed after someone else used to bad roads, with bad signage - If you are i..." Sam
" Hi Cyril We have had a fabulous holiday driven and guided by Cyril from CYRIL TOURS. Hotel recommendations were perfect and knowledge supertb. We would happy to introduce CYRIL TOURS to our frieinds and relatives. Thank you for the photos you are taken and send to us, they are a great reminder of our amazing experience in Sri Lanka. We had a truly memorable time and we are grateful to you for all your knowledge and guidance throughout our trip, it would not have been..." Mr. Richard & Mrs. Bridget Simson and family from
" Dear Cyril, We are fortunate to have you as a friend here in Sri Lanka. You are extremly Knowledgeable and more than ever - having an attitude of helpful nature and the willingness to solve issues on hand whilst on our tour around Sri Lanka. As I have said to you we will reccommend you to all our friends who wish to tour in Sri Lanka. My family Karen, Kalvin and Andre also liked your company and wish you and your family well. God bless you all and we will keep in touch, for sur..." Alwyn Santhumayor & family
"Thank you so much for wonderful Sri Lanka trip.We had a great time. The trip was very relaxing as well as fun. My daughter MAHI who lovingly started calling you "Cyril Dada"(grand farther) Had a memorable trip. She cannot stop talking about elephants. Our trip to Sri Lanka will be full of great memories, its because of you. Thank you for showing us your beautiful country the way we wanted, eating local food, lots of King coconut and Corn stops. We will be surely coming back to see rest o..." Mithil Patel