Anuradhapura, the vast Sinhalese capital that endured for nearly a millennium from around 377 BC, remains a sacred city simply because it was Buddhism’s initial home on the island. The famous Tooth Relic, a canine of the Buddha retrieved from his funeral pyre, reputedly came first to what is now the Isurumuniyagala Monastery, a small but charming temple hollowed out of a dark, boulder-strewn hillock around a sunken water pool.

Today, Anuradhapura retains great appeal for both tourists and pilgrims. It is the sheer scale of its dagobas, or stupas, which impresses most. While Sri Lanka is dotted with these typically bell-shaped and whitewashed memorials, but the largest and most impressive are found here.

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