CulturalExperience in Anuradhapura

Sri Lanka’s recorded history, which spans over two millennia, has provided us with ample opportunity to study the country’s past. From the first human civilizations to the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms, Sri Lanka’s rich past is a fascinating thing to explore.

If you wish to learn about the country’s history, Anuradhapura is a great place to start. Widely considered one of the most advanced civilizations of its time, the Kingdom of Anuradhapura had complex irrigation systems, was mostly self-sufficient, had some of the most awe-inspiring architecture of the ancient world, and the legal system was intricately detailed.

Exploring Anuradhapura’s Artificial Lakes

Anuradhapura, located in the dry zone, could never have flourished without the construction of a number of reservoirs by the kings of old. Constructed over 2,000 years ago, the lakes are testament to the genius of the engineers behind it. The artificial lakes were designed in such a way that during the monsoon season, it captures the rain and then distributes the water to the various farm lands spread across the kingdom. This was made possible by complex irrigation systems. The three main lakes in the region are Basawakkulama, Tissa Wewa, and Nuwara Wewa.

Though these water tanks may not be as essential to the survival of Anuradhapura’s present-day inhabitants, they’ve become integrated into the modern landscape of the region. The lakes and their surroundings have become a haven for different animal and bird species and are also popular bathing spots for locals.

Touring the Anuradhapura Archeological Museum

The setting up of the Anuradhapura Archeological Museum was borne out of need, as once excavations in surrounding areas, such as Mihintale, started producing results, a storage area for the recently unearthed artefacts was required. The Archeological Commissioner at the time, Dr. Senarath Paranavithana, pushed for the museum to be established.

An old colonial building was repurposed for this project, and it was finally opened in 1947. It underwent a 10-year restoration in the 21st century with the aid of the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, and was reopened in September 2019.

The museum exhibits include an assortment of objects from ancient civilizations. Notably, there is a model recreation of the Thuparama Dagoba Vatadage with the roof intact, a glimpse at how the magnificent structure would’ve looked in its prime. Other exhibits include numerous coins, clothing and tools from rural settlements dating back centuries, and ageing portraits of Lord Buddha.

❂ Useful Tips:

  • The museum operates between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm.
  • It is located just a few minutes away from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, close to the Anuradhapura heritage site’s ticket counter.