Temple Etiquette

Because so many of Anuradhapura’s major sites are still considered sacred, it is important to be prepared to remove your shoes and hat, wear a sarong if you are wearing shorts or otherwise don modest dress as required. It's a good idea to bring a pair of socks for the hot and rocky ground.

Sri Lankan pilgrims wear white, which is considered a holy colour, a mode you might choose to copy out of respect (and also as it reflects strong sunlight).

The World's Most Ornate Toilets

In the 8th century, a new order of tapovana (ascetic) monks settled in the western fringes of Anuradhapura. Living among the lowest castes and dressed in scraps of clothing taken from the surrounding graveyards, they renounced the luxury of the main monastery and lived, it is said, on nothing more than rice.

To show their contempt for the effete, luxury-loving monks, the monks of the western monasteries carved beautiful stone squat-style toilets, with their brother monks’ monasteries represented on the bottom. Their urinals illustrated the god of wealth showering handfuls of coins down the hole.

Ironically, these squatting plates remain some of the most beautifully ornate objects left in Anuradhapura; you can see fine examples at the Archaeological Museum, Abhayagiri Museum and the Padhanagara site, as well as in Ridi Vihara.