Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka ‘s first capital, a potent symbol of Sinhalese power, and the most extensive and important of Sri Lanka ‘s ancient cities. It became a capital in 380 BC and for over 1000 years Sinhalese kings ruled from this great city. Its impressive remains were ‘discovered’ in the early 19th century and have been in the process of restoration ever since. They lie to the west and north of the modern town of Anuradhapura .
The Sacred Bo-Tree is the city’s holiest site, and was grown from the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. The Thuparama Dagoba , the oldest of many temples in Anuradhapura , is believed to contain the right collar-bone of Buddha. The Jetavanarama Dagoba is the largest remaining structure and may once have been over 100m (328ft) in height and housed an estimated 3000 monks. There are also museums that invite exploration, marvellously restored twin ponds which were used by monks as ritual baths, and immense tanks built to provide irrigation water for the growing of rice.
Anuradhapura is 250km (155mi) north of Colombo.
Every monastery has a dagoba. Ruvanveliseya is the dagoba of Maha Vihara. It was built by a Sinhalese hero king Dutugemunu in the 2nd century B.C. The architect ingeniously combined the Buddhist philosophy in the architectural conception. He conceived this as a bubble of milk: representing life, which will burst in no time just like the fragility of our lives. Its dome represents the vastness of the doctrine; the four facets of the box on top represents the four noble truths. The concentric rings there after indicate the noble eightfold path that leads man to illumination. The illumination: the whole truth is light and transparent like the rock crystal at the pinnacle. The 1956’s restoration curb on the dome is much to the chagrin of the purists: which looks flatter than bubbly.
This was the home of mainly the Dhammaruchi sect, although it was open to many other sects including Mahayanism. There is little literary evidence as the rival monks of the Maha Vihara were the compilers of the chronicle. How ever, this 500-acre monastery was the biggest for 600 years, and Was home for 5000 monks. It was an international center of the arts, philosophy and mysticism, With branches in Java , Burma and China . Its center was this dagoba in ruin built over a sacred foot of the Buddha.
SAMADHI BUDDHA STATUE
Mahamevuna Uyana. Anuradhapura , “Samadhi Budu Pilimaya” This limestone image of lord Buddha is dating from the 3rd Century. Seated under a Bo tree, depicts the Lord Buddha in the serene state of Samadhi, or deep meditation. It’s not secret why the Great Indian statesman Jawaharlal Nehru found solace and strength in a photograph of this statue when he was imprisoned by the British in 1940s. The kindness of Lord Buddha flows through the half closed eyes, Watch as as long as you like. This is the finest Meditation Buddha statue in the whole World.
6th Century Gupta style carving. The woman, seated on the man’s lap, lifts a warning finger, probably as a manifestation of her coyness; but the man carries on regardless.”
The figures may represent Dutugemunu’s son Saliya and the law caste (Sadol Kula) maiden Asokamala whom he loved. It’s known that he gave up the throne for her.
SANDAKADA PAHANA ( The Moonstone )
The elaborate moonstone at its base is in itself a distinctive element of ancient sculpture in the island. These semi-circular slabs of granite or gneiss acquired increasingly complex bands of decorations over the years. They range from the near abstract tongues of fire and bands of creeper vines – to symbolic interpretations of the four perils of life
The latter consists of the elephant, a symbol of birth, the bull indicative of decay; the lion, resent in disease. and the geese, a symbol of death. Some also band of geese, which represents the dist between good, and evil. To some, the moon-stone is symbolic of transcending worldly temptations and achieving nibbane.
The Twin Ponds. These 3rd Century monks’ bathing pools are archaeologically perfect.
The water that feeds the ponds flows first into a filtering basin made of rock; It runs through a beautiful makara mouth and a lion’s head into the smaller tank. A submarine conduit feeds the larger tank.
Three miles north of the city is the site now known as the Asokarama at pankuliya. Among the remains are those of a dagoba, of anunnery and of a bath-house. the bath-house has had a roof supported on 84 pillars. A Budha statue of lime stone broken in at hip and with the hands served, found in one of the image-house has since been conserved and placed on a pedestal. An inscription of Mahinda IV (956-972 AD) has also been found at the site.
Not far from Vessagiriya and below the bund of the Tissawewa Tnak, is the Isurumuni Vihara. the structure here have been renovated recently and their original features have now become obliterated. The sculpture of a pair of lovers at this site is one of the best pieces of sculpture known from anywhere in the Island . The rock with bounds the edge of the pond at the site carries sculptures of elephants. In a niche cut into the rock at a point above these elephants are the figures of a man seated in the Maharaja leela attitude and the head of a horse. It is notr yet setteled as to wha this figure represents but it has been taken as a work of a Pallave School and dated in the seventy century. Professor Paranavithana has suggested that this figure is that of the God Parjanya.
A person entering the city from the Puttalam Road meets Mirisaweti Dagoba, the first religious edifice of Dutugemunu (161-137 BC). According to the Mahavansa the relic enshrined Sceptre of the king deposited in this dagoba. A monastery has also been constructed about this dagoba. In the 7th centry AD this dagoba has been renovated by a prince names Kasapa. Again in the 10th century King Kassapa V repaide this dagoba and beutified its prescints with various avasa buildings.
A person who turns left from the Cicular Road and goes along the Anula Mawatha would meet a recently renovated dagoba which evidently is the Galhebakada dagoba built by Valagambahu (89-77 BC). This dagoba is now known as the Lankarama. The concentric circular of pillars range around the dagoba proves that as at the Thuparam, there was a roof to this dagoba as well.
This dagoba constructed by King Mahasena (274-301 AD) the last king of the Mahavansa is 321 ft. in height and 370 ft. diameter at base. West of the dagoba is an image-house which is connected with this dagoba. Of this latter structure, which has had a demical roof one of the door jambs measure 26 ft. Although the fragments of a colosal lotus pedestal are at the site no statue or parts of one survive.
This is the smallest ancient dagoba in Anuradhapura is the first historical dagoba in the whole island. The dagoba built by King Devanampiyatissa in the form of a paddy heap had been ruin in the day of King Agrabodhi II (604-614 AD0 and reconstructed. The dagoba reared on a circular terrace 11 ft. 4 inh. high and 164 1/2 ft. circumference, is itself 59 ft. in height as at present. The right clavicle bone of the Buddha is said to be enshrined here. The pillar capped with sculptured capitals ranged in concentric circles round the dagoba indicate that it was roofed over at our stage. the present bell shape of the dagoba was given to it ata a recenstruction.
King Valagambahu being defeated by the Tamils was in fight (103 BC) when he heard an insult uttered by a jain ascetic named Giri. Valagambahu who defeated the Tamils and regained the throne (89-77 BC) destroyed Giri’s ashram and built theis dagoba on the same spot. There was a belief that a dagoba named Sila stupa existed here covering the foot print left at the spot by the Buddha on one of his visits. the Dipavamsa states that the Adhayagiri dagoba was built to enclose the Sila stupa. The Mahavansa states that Valagambahu built the Abhagiri dagoba and a vihara with 12 cells.
SRI MAHABODHI TREE
This Bodhi tree is a sapling of the original Tree at which the Buddha sat as he attained enlightenment and was sent to Sri Lanka by King Dharmasoka through the Thero Sangamitta in response to the request made by King Devanampiyatissa. The tree flourishes to tis day at the samr site at which it was planted. This tree apart from being sacred to the aldest historicaltree of the world. Kings who came to the throne after Devanampiyatissa have embellished the site with prakaras, makara arches, flights of steps etc. Channels too had been constructed for conveying the water required for watering the tree.
This dageba 300 ft. in diameter was constructed by King Dutugemunu (167-137 BC) the first great hero of the Sinhalese. The original height of the dagoba was also about the same. Dutugemunu was, however, unable to complete the work on the dagoba. Broad flights of steps are founf at the enterance of the sand strewn courtyard as well as the paved tenace of the dagoba. The retaining wall was covered with figures of elephants in frontal aspect represented as standing cheek by jowl. At the four cardinal points of the dagoba are four vahalkadas (frontispieces) which have preserved some very old sculptures. Work on this dagoba has been done time and again after the day of King Dutugemunu. The Mahavansa records that the 3 floral terraces were encased in stone work in the reing of Lajjitissa (119-109 BC).
There are the remains of a brick structure near the ancient temple of the Tooth Relic at Anuradhapura . This building known as the Gedige did not have any wood used in its atructure, the doors and windows being of stone. Although the history of this structure, is not known. It exemplifies a special type of structure wholly built of brick and having a domical roof.
The structure the remains of which are found close to the Sacred Bodhi Tree with 40 rows of 40 pillars in it are those of the Brazen Palace . The orginal nine storied structure here clad with copper and bronze tiles was reared by King Dutugemunu (161-137 BC). This building was accidentlly distroyed by fire during the reign of Saddhatissa (137-119 BC) and was reconstructed as a 7 storied structure by that king. Repairs were effected to the structure time and again. The Brazen Palace of the tenth century was destroy by the Cholas in the early years of the 11th Century. the latest construction of the Brazen Palace was by Parakrama Bahu I.
Aremarkable stone statue of the Buddha 38 ft. 10 inhs. in height and its image house are among the ancient remains at avkana near Kalawewa. The state is believed to be the work of King Dhatusena (455-477 AD). Route: Proceed on the
This statue on the Vatavandana Road is assigned to the 4th or 5th century but may in fact be earlier. At the site has been a Bodhighara and the statue may be one of four images kept originally around the bo-tree.
A narrow flight of steps leading towards the left from the position of the Mihindu Saiya gives access to the Naga pokuna. The Mahavansa records that Aggrabodhi I (571-604 AD) ensured a perennial supply of water to the Nagasondi tank referred to. On the rock face here is sculptured a five hooded cobra.
|ANURADHAPURA/ POLONNARUWA/ SIGIRIYA/ DAMBULLA
Tourist Sights/ Activity/ Excursions
|Additional Expenses for Guest||Approximate timing|
|Entrance Ticket||Photo Permit||Jeep/Boat/ TukTuk/ Elephant etc.|
|Anuradhapura Ruins (Archeological sites)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 05 hours|
|Sri Maha Bodiya (Tree)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About ½ hours|
|Isuruminiya Viharaya (Rock Temple)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About ½ hours|
|Mihintale Monastery & Rock||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 02 hours|
|Polonnaruwa Ruins (Archeological sites)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 04 hours|
|Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 03 hours|
|Dambulla Buddhist Golden Temple (approx. walking 01 hour)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 01 hour|
|Habarana Elephant Back Safari||NO||NO||NO||YES||About 01 hour|
|Minneriya National Park by Jeep||NO||YES||NO||YES||About 05 hours|
|Visit Kandalama Lake||YES||NO||NO||YES||About 1 ½ hour|
|Village tour by Bullock Cart.||YES||NO||NO||YES||About 1 ½ hour|
|Visit of a Technical tour to Herbal & Spice Garden||YES||NO||NO||NO||About 1 ½ hour|
|Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage||NO||YES||YES||NO||About 1 ½ hour|