Anuradhapura first became a capital in 380 BC under Pandukabhaya, but it was under Devanampiya Tissa (r247–207 BC), during whose reign Buddhism reached Sri Lanka, that it first rose to great importance. Soon Anuradhapura became a great and glittering city, only to fall before a South Indian invasion – a fate that was to befall it repeatedly for more than 1000 years. But before long the Sinhalese hero Dutugemunu led an army from a refuge in the far south to recapture Anuradhapura. The ‘Dutu’ part of his name, incidentally, means ‘undutiful’, because his father, fearing for his son’s safety, forbade him to attempt to recapture Anuradhapura. Dutugemunu disobeyed him, and later sent his father a woman’s ornament to indicate what he thought of his courage.
    Dutugemunu (r 161–137 BC) set in motion a vast building program that included some of the most impressive monuments in Anuradhapura today. Other important kings who followed him included Valagamba, who lost his throne in another Indian invasion but later regained it, and Mahasena (r AD 276–303), the last ‘great’ king of Anuradhapura, who was the builder of the colossal Jetavanarama Dagoba. He also held the record for tank construction, building 16 of them in all, plus a major canal. Anuradhapura was to survive for another 500 years before finally being replaced by Polonnaruwa, but it was harassed by invasions from South India again and again – invasions made easier by the cleared lands and great roads that were a product of Anuradhapura’s importance.

The city of Anuradhapura is situated 220 kms away from Colombo in the north central province of Sri Lanka on Malwathu Oya. Founded in the 6th century BC, it was the capital of the Sri Lanka from 4th century BC to beginning of 11th century AD. Today this ancient capital of Sri Lanka has become sacred to the whole Buddhist world , with its surrounding monasteries covering a area of 40 sq kilometres and one of the worlds major archaeological sites.

According to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of the Sri Lanka, the city of Anuradhapura was named after a Minister called Anuradha who founded this area as a village settlement. He was one of the ministers who accompanied king Vijaya from India, who according to the tradition founded the Sinhalese Race in Sri Lanka.

It was king Pandukabhaya who made it his capital in the 4th Century BC. It was during the period of his grandson king Devanampiyatissa that the Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka by Arhath Mahinda Thero, the son of Emperor Asoka in India. This was 236 years (middle of 3rd century BC) after passing a way of Load Buddha. From this point onwards a great civilization developed based on one of the greatest religions of South East Asia, Buddhism.