Covering an area of 10,472 km2, North Central Province denotes historical importance. It is mostly covered by tropical forests and ancient monuments. Anuradhapura is the principal capital of the North Central Province. This is not a highly populated or developed area but exposes an array of cultural and historical buildings hailing from the ancient king’s region. Today, some of the UNESCO listed world heritage sites are seen in the North Central Province. From prehistoric temples, man-made lakes and the royal palace – Everything shows excellent architectural expertise of the bygone era. No one would believe human workers built these structures during the days there were no tools.
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals in Sri Lanka that magnificently continued for six hundred years. It is renowned as a sacred city with well-preserved monuments and ruins. Anuradhapura was one of three historical capital of Rajarata, founded in 5th century BC. It is also one of the continuously inhabited cities in the world and a world heritage site scattered with sacred temples, ancient remains, artificial lakes and historical edifices. The Sri Maha Bodhi, also known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi; the branch of the fig tree which Buddha was enlightened is one of the main highlights in Anuradhapura. Today, it continues as a sacred remains of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and revered by many devotees.
This place is home to Atamasthana or eight sacred sites visited by Buddha- They are Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Mirisaveti Stupa, Thuparamaya, Ruwanwelisaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiri, Jetavanarama, and Lankarama. Other significant structures comprise Tholuwila Buddha figure, Ranmasu Uyana, Dakkhina Stupa, Samadhi Statue, Rathna Prasadaya, Sela Cetiya, Naka Vihara, Kiribath Vehera, Kuttam Pokuna, Queen’s Palace, Vessagiriya, Magul Uyana and Isurumuniya. The artificial reservoirs built by the kings such as Tissa Wewa Abaya Wewa and Nuwara Wewa are magnificent specimens of ancient hydraulic engineering, and some of them are water grounds for paddy cultivations in Anuradhapura.
Polonnaruwa was selected as the 2nd capital in 933 AD after the fall of the kingdom of Anuradhapura. The city comprises two looks one is the old Polonnaruwa with historical monuments and the new town of Polonnaruwa which is developing at a fast phase. In the 10th century, it was the capital of Cholas and captured by King Vijayabahu in 1070 AD. During king Parakramabahu’s reigning in the 12th century, Polonnaruwa was flourished with stone carvings, historical buildings and reservoirs. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is a well-preserved world heritage site today.
Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Rankoth Vehera, Hetadage, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, Gal Vihara, Statue of Parakramabahu I, Shiva Devale or the temple of Lord Shiva, Pabalu Vihara, Kiri Vihara and the sea of Parakrama are the best visits in this ancient city. The Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara exhibits a series of enormous Buddha sculptures engraved on granite boulders. Most of the ruins and monuments in Polonnaruwa elaborate its heyday and historical wonders. Some of the national parks such as Minneriya and Kaudulla are located next to Polonnaruwa create perfect settings to spot Asian elephants and various wild creatures.