128 miles (205km) from Colombo is Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s first capital founded about the 4th century BC. According to the Mahavansa, the Sinhala Buddhist chronicle, the city was a model of planning. Precincts were set aside for huntsmen and scavengers
This fascinating ancient city of the Sinhala kings, considered one of Sri Lanka's most important archaeological sites, is where Buddhism was first introduced to the island in the 3rd century BC. It contains large artificial lakes, temples, frescoes, dagobas (solid hemispheres topped with spires), 1,600 square stone pillars (which once supported a nine-story monastery), several museums, royal baths and bas-reliefs of elephants. One of the city's most important sites is the holy Sri Maha Bodhi Tree. The tree was brought to Sri Lanka 2,300 years ago as a sapling from the tree under which Buddha became enlightened - which makes it the world's oldest historically documented tree. Anuradhapura is located inland. It can be seen as a long day trip from Kandy or Negombo, or more easily from the modern village of Habarana, which has been developed to take advantage of its proximity to a number of ancient sites.