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 Pandu kabhaya about 380 BCE.
King Pandu kabhaya, 380 BCE
According to the Mahavamsa, the epic of Sinhala History, King Pandu kabhaya’s city was a model of planning. Precincts were set aside for huntsmen, for scavengers and for 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 Devanampiya Tissa (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.
King Duttha Gamini
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 Duttha, the Undutiful (161 - 137 BCE). For his entire martial prowess, King Duttha Gamini must have been a man of 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 (picture at top right), 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 own 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, Devanampiya Tissa s original foundation. But he had more substantial claim to notability than his heresy; not only did he build (for the heretics) Sri Lankas vastest completed Dagaba the Jetavana Ramaya, - but he was also the greatest irrigator of the Sinhala Kings, building 16 major tanks and a great canal.
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 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.
"Hello, We had 2 weeks exploring Sri Lanka and for most of that time Cyril drove for usto various towns, sites of interest. Cyril wsa a very pleasant chauffeur. Always prompt and greeted us with a smile. He was well informed about the sites we visited and pointed out many interesting historical buildings en-route. We had a great 2 weeks in Sri Lanka and Cyril's plesant and helpful nature contributed to this briliant holiday. Thank Cyril Sara and Steve from Birmingham, England" Sara and Steve
"Dear Cyril, We want to thank you so much for making our trip so unforgetable and delightful. We received your name from our friends lives in Geneva who travelled with you in January 2009 and they gave you such a high recommendation that we decided to conbtact you for our two weeks trip this year. Although we have been to Sri Lanka a few times already. We have never found such an excellent driver and guide. It has been a great pleasure to visit Colombo with you and then to Koggala for two day tr..." Mr.Gabor Kato & Mrs.Ann Kato
"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
"We found Cyril on-line and after checking with lots of other guides we decided he is the one for us, that decision was the best one we did for our trip From the beginning, in our emails, Cyril listen to us and was very helpful, he gave us information and helped us to create the best trip for us.We had 10 days trip, for our honeymoon, to many parts of Sri-Lanka. the country is amazing, green, nice people and good food.Cyril was a great driver and even greater guide, he has so much knowledge and e..." Coral and Oded from Israel
" Dear Cyril We spent a wonderful week with you. We were so pleased to have to visited your beautiful country and we will recommend you for all of our relatives and to friends. It has been a pleasure to spend these days with you, we will never forget nice smile on your face all the time. Thank you and if one day you would like to visit Switzerland we will be raedy take you around snowy mountans! All the best, Franz family" Dr. David franz from Swiss
"Traveled in April 2013 with Cyril . Family with three young children. Cyril match the trip plan problem on his part. Familiar with every corner of this beautiful island and we have managed to produce a great 17 days. Prices respect as well - we tested three competing proposals and was the cheapest. The fact that he was working independently and not through an agency that collects coupon trips generally significantly reduces the price of the package. A modern and spacious vehicle (van with seven ..." Maozd
"Dear Cyril, Thank you very much for wonderful holiday. Your attention to detail and care of your clients is extraordinary. We certainly hope to cross paths again and we will recommonding you to all of our friends and to family too. Many thanks again. Paul nad Machelle Brisbane, Australia. Visited during 10/10/2012 - 26/10/2012" Mr. Paul and Mrs. Machelle from Australia
"Cyril was an excellent guide and gave us a very good insight into the history and cultures of Sri Lanka. He was always polite, helpful and prompt. His driving was always calm and controlled - unlike some of the other vehicles we saw!!! We would recommend him to others traveling to Sri Lanka. WH - UK - January 2011" Wilson Harland
"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
" 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