The capital of Sri Lanka for nearly fifteen centuries. It was built on the site of settlements started by the two Anurādhas on the bank of the Kadamba river, and was founded under the constellation Anurādha, hence the name.¹ Paṇḍukābhaya (394‑307 B.C.) was the founder of the city, to which he removed the capital from Upatissagāma,² and there it remained up to the time of Aggabodhi IV (A.D. 626‑41). After a short period it became once more the capital, and continued to be so until the royal residence was removed elsewhere.³ It was finally deserted in the eleventh century.
Paṇḍukābhaya beautified the city with the artificial lakes Jayavāpi and Abhayavāpi. It was round the last-
Paṇḍukābhaya’s son and successor, Muṭasiva, laid out the beautiful Mahāmeghavana Park with fruit and flowering trees;⁵ this was to the south of the city; between it and the southern wall of the city was another park called Nandanavana or Jotivana.⁶
In the reign of Piyatissa, who succeeded Muṭasiva (when Buddhism had been introduced into the land), the king, together with his nobles and people, erected many noble edifices in support of the new religion. Ten of the most noted were in Anurādhapura,⁷ and the Mahāmeghavana, which was given over to the Buddhist Saṅgha, henceforth became the centre of Buddhism in the island. In this park was also planted, by Piyatissa, the branch of the Sacred Bodhi Tree which came from Gayā.⁸
Soon afterwards the city was taken by the Tamils but was recaptured by Duṭṭhagāmaṇī (101‑77 B.C.), the hero of the Mahāvaṃsa. Many chapters of the chronicle are devoted to descriptions of the numerous buildings erected by him in Anurādhapura for the glorification of the national faith,⁹ chief among them being the Maricavatti-
The subsequent history of the city is a record of how succeeding kings repaired, added to, or beautified, these various monuments and the steps they took for their preservation. The only later monument of real importance is the Jetavanārāma built by King Mahāsena (A.D. 334‑61).¹¹
About this time the fame of Anurādhapura as the chief centre of Buddhist culture attracted many visitors from abroad in search of learning. The most famous of these was the great commentator Buddhaghosa.¹² It was also during this period that Dhātusena (A.D. 460‑78) reorganised the water supply of the city and built the Kālavāpi.¹³
From this time onward the country suffered from a series of dynastic intrigues and civil wars, each party appealing to the Tamils of South India for help and protection. As a result, the district round Anurādhapura was overrun by Tamil freebooters and became impossible to defend; the seat of government was therefore removed to Pulatthipura about the beginning of the ninth century, where it continued, except for a brief interval to the eleventh century. Finally, about A.D. 1300, at a date not exactly known, the whole district was abandoned, having become a kind of no-
Various scraps of information regarding Anurādhapura and its inhabitants are found scattered in the commentaries.¹⁵
¹ MT.293; Mhv.x.76; this tradition seems to have been forgotten later, for in the Mbv. (116) there is a suggestion that the city was so called because it was the dwelling of satisfied people (anurodhijana); or is this mere alliteration?
³ See Cv.xlvi.34, where the new capital, Pulatthinagara, is first mentioned as a royal residence.
⁴ For a full description see Mhv.x.80‑102.
¹⁵ E.g., that it had two city gate-