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Anuradhapura (ənōō´rädəpōō´rə) or Anarajapura (ənä´räjə–), city (1995 est. pop. 40,000), N central Sri Lanka, on the Aruvi River. Rice plantations and vegetable gardens surround the city, which is famous chiefly for its vast Buddhist ruins and as a pilgrimage center. Founded in 437 BC, it was the capital of a Sinhalese kingdom and a Buddhist center until the 8th cent. AD, when, after a Tamil invasion, it was abandoned in favor of Pollonarrua. Ruins include several colossal stupas (some larger than the pyramids of Egypt), a temple hewn from rock, and the Brazen Palace (so called from its metal roof). A sacred bo tree at Anuradhapura was grown from a slip of the tree at Bodh Gaya, India, under which Buddha reputedly attained enlightenment. The Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka has its headquarters in the city.

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Anurādhapura. Capital of Sri Lanka until 10th cent. CE. The Mahāvihāra monasteries were established here, along with many temples and stūpas. Of particular importance are the two great dagobas, Ruwanweli and Thūparāma. A branch or cutting of the Bo tree (under which the Buddha became enlightened) was planted in the 3rd cent. BCE, which survives to the present as (reputedly) the oldest tree in the world.