This half-day tour explores Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s first Buddhist capital, which was established in 377 BC by King Pandukabhaya. It is centred on a cutting from the ‘tree of enlightenment’, known as the Bo or Bodhi Tree. The incredible ruins found in Anuradhapura bear testimony to the prominence given to Buddhism over the centuries in Sri Lanka. It was once an important political and religious capital that flourished for 1300 years, however in 993 it was abandoned after being invaded. The ruins of the capital were hidden amidst dense jungle for many years, but today it’s a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, a fascinating area to explore and a wonderful introduction to Sri Lanka’s ancient Sinhalese civilization. Of all the palaces, monuments and monasteries in and around Anuradhapura, the colossal Dagobas that scatter the landscape seem the most impressive. These are unique to Sri Lanka due to their circular foundations surrounded by a ring of monolithic columns, as your guide will explain. The tour will also take you to Sri Maha Bodhi, otherwise known as the Sacred Bo tree, which is said to be the oldest documented tree on earth. Your guide will also take you past ancient palaces, administrative buildings, a hospital and the impressive bathing tanks, home to an ingenious filtering system. Learning about Anuradhapura’s complex irrigation system is surprisingly a highlight of the area. For history enthusiasts, Anuradhapura is not to be missed.