|And now to Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka's former capitals around 380 BC. Anuradhapura is known for the ruins of its old city which are in good condition all things considered, and quite spread out.
I'm immediately struck by how few people there are: there's virtually no-one here! It seems the bad press relating to the Tamil Tigers and their recent bombing spree has kept the tourists away, which means near-deserted sights and empty guesthouses. I hired a bicycle and spent a day in the heat hopping from one ruin to another.
Anuradhapura does boast some sights worthy of special mention:
1. The Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred bodhi tree, which is meant to be the oldest historically authenticated living tree in the world. Meant to have grown from a cutting of the bodhi tree under which Budda obtained enlightenment, amazingly this tree has been tended for about 2000 years. How you go about keeping a tree alive for this long is beyond me, but I was struck by just how young the tree looked; another 2000 years of shedding leaves and being worshipped should be bo problem.
2. Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest surviving buddist shrine in the world. Actually its the surrounding pillars that are the old part of the shrine, the white painted bell shape centre was built in the 18th Century.
It was another hot day of sightseeing, but enjoyable enough. And then its back to the hotel and on my second night I'm the only guest staying so I'm centre of attention as far as the staff are concerned.