1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Anuradhapura

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ANURADHAPURA, a ruined city of Ceylon, famous for its ancient monuments. It is situated in the North-central province. Anuradhapura became the capital of Ceylon in the 5th century B.C., and attained its highest magnificence about the commencement of the Christian era. In its prime it ranked beside Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions—its four walls, each 16 m. long, enclosing an area of 256 sq. m.,—in the number of its inhabitants, and the splendour of its shrines and public edifices. It suffered much during the earlier Tamil invasions, and was finally deserted as a royal residence in A.D. 769. It fell completely into decay, and it is only of recent years that the jungle has been cleared away, the ruins laid bare, and some measure of prosperity brought back to the surrounding country by the restoration of hundreds of village tanks. The ruins consist of three classes of buildings, dagobas, monastic buildings, and pokunas. The dagobas are bell-shaped masses of masonry, varying from a few feet to over 1100 in circumference. Some of them contain enough masonry to build a town for twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Remains of the monastic buildings are to be found in every direction in the shape of raised stone platforms, foundations and stone pillars. The most famous is the Brazen Palace erected by King Datagamana about 164 B.C. The pokunas are bathing-tanks or tanks for the supply of drinking-water, which are scattered everywhere through the jungle. The city also contains a sacred Bo-tree, which is said to date back to the year 245 B.C. The railway was extended from Matale to Anuradhapura in 1905. Population: town, 3672; province, 79,110.