Situated north of Colombo, the ancient city of Anuradhapura  stands majestically in the jungle that for generations hid away the palaces, monasteries and monuments, which have been there since the third century BC. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city today consist of several magnificent dagobas (domes built to enshrine sacred relics), sculptures, carvings, ruined palaces and monasteries, bathing ponds and irrigation tanks. Since the rediscovery of the ancient, ruined city by the British in the 19th century, the city has been a Buddhist pilgrimage site as well as an attraction for travellers the world over. Another historical attraction is the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, thought to be the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It is said to be a sapling from the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree was planted in 288 BC, on a high terrace roughly 21 feet (6.5m) above the ground, and is surrounded by a prayer flag-festooned wall built by King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha to protect it from wild elephants. The Sri Maha Bodhi is a pilgrimage site for thousands of Buddhist devotees who come to make offerings during the full moon.

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