This wonderful Stupa (once the tallest constuction in the world) was the first building in visited in the complex. It´s 122meters in height, and was constructed by the King Mahasena in the second century AD. It was built using baked bricks (a composition of 60% fine sand and 35% clay) and finally coverd with lime plaster; a part of a sash or belt tied by Lord Buddha is believed to be the relic that is enshrined here. Originally was part of the Jetavana Monastery wich housed 10,000 Buddhist monks during it´s glory days.
Samadhi Buddha Statue.
This interesting Buddha statue made of granite (from the 3rd-4th century) was found in 1886, and is located at Mahamevuna Park. The statue is 7 feet and 3 inches in height (2.20 meters) and was depicted in the position of the Dyana Mudra (meditation to ensure Nirvana).
Eth Okuna. Elephant Pond.
This huge man made pond located near Lankaramaya is 159 meters in length, and gets its waters from the
Periyamkulama Tank through underground channels. It was used by the monks of the Abhayagiri Monastery.
Sri Maha Bodhiya.
Maybe the most sacred and visited spot in Sri Lanka. The Sri Maha Bodhiya is a compound of temples, guard stones and balustrades that protects the revered Bodhi tree. This tree is an orginal shoot of the old and sacred Bodhi tree located in Bodh Gaya (India) under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. This sapling of the original tree was brought in Sri Lanka by the Theri Sengamitta (daughter of the emperor Asoka) and planted in Anudaraphura in 249 BC by the King Devanampissa. Is the world oldest human planted tree with a known planting date. It was planted in a special platform known as a Bodhigara; there are few remains of the original temple, the new temple and constructions around were later adittions. The tree is encircled by a gold-plated railing festooned with flags and other strips of cloths left by the pilgrims. It´s not possible to touch the tree but a good souvenir is a leaf fallen from it.
Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds).
One of the most beautiful constructions in Anaradhapura, these bathing ponds are not twins ( are positioned in such a way that they appear almost the same) one is larger (132ft large and 51 ft wide) and the other is smaller (91ft by 51 ft) and were built by the Sinhalese in 6th-8th centuries. They were built in granite, flight of steps are located on both ends of the pools decorated with Punkalas (pots of abundance). The water was channelled to the ponds by a sophisticaded system of filtration and was used as a bathing place by the monks of Abhayagiri Monastery in northern part of the city.
One of the world´s tallests Stupas, this beautiful bowl form white painted building was set up on the platform of three steps that heaped up the stones and the bricks and is one of the best preserved constuctions in the site. It was built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC, and has 55 meters high and 8 meters in diameter. The main facade is adorned with several elephant statues. Is one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 places of veneration) in the country, and is visited from pilgrims from all over Sri Lanka.
Located in the north of the city, this big Stupa and the surrounding buildings housed the Northern monastery (Abhayagani means a fraternity of Buddhist monks) they lived here and developed grouped institutions for religious teaching. It was Founded in the second century BC by King Vattagamini Abhaya.. There are two carved slabs erected on the foot of the staircase known as Guard Stones, and two small temples dedicated to the guardian deity. Actually the Stupa is under restoration.
A typical example of Shinalese sculpture, the Moonstones consit of semi-circular pieces of stone decorated with lotus design, and carvings depicting animals...horses, lions, ducks, oxen and elephants. At the very beginning the Moonstone was very simple, then the lotus design was added and finally the animal carvings were introduced. This Moonstone located near the entrance of the Sri Maha Bodhiya temple is a good example of this original floor decoration.
Brazen Palace (Lovamahapaya) was a dwelling for the Buddhist monks built by King Dutugamunu over 2000 years ago. The building once had a bronze roof. There are about 1600 columns left around this house.
Sri Maha Bodhi
Sri Maha Bodhi (the sacred Bo Tree) was brought to Sri Lanka as a sapling and planted in Anuradhapura. The sacred bodhi tree is central to Anuradhapura bith spiritual and physical sense. When you take picture, be sure your back does not face the bodhi tree. Respect the local culture and the religion! It is believed to be a sapling of the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhi Gaya in India. The tree is over 2,200 years old and is the oldest historically documented tree in the world.
A moonstone is the first of the steps leading to a temple or any other sacred place. It is constituted of several arcs and each one has a different meaning. The meaning varies according to the guide you’ll use. The outer arc symbolizes the human life; the four animals (horse, elephant, bull and lion) represent the four noble truths of Buddha or, according another interpretation, the challenges of human life: birth, illness, old age and death. The swans represent the capability of separating good from evil gained by someone who understands the four noble truths, or the creatures that assist people through their travel to enlightenment. Finally, the lotus at the center of the moonstone represents enlightenment (nirvana).
- Religious Travel
This beautiful sculpture, dating since the 5th century AC, can be seen in a small museum at the Isurumuniya Vihara. According to the legend, it shows prince Saliya and Asokamala, the most famous lovers in Sri Lanka. Prince Saliya was the only son of King Dutugemunu and the heir to the throne. One day, while he was walking around the Royal Pleasure Gardens, he saw Asokamala picking flowers. She was extraordinarily beautiful and he fell in love with her immediately. He could not help it; she had been connected to him in his past life and although she was from a lower cast they soon became lovers. When King Dutugemunu found out about the secret affair, Prince Saliya preferred to lose the throne than to lose the woman he loved. The law was strict; Prince Saliya and Asokamala were exiled from Anuradhapura for the rest of their lives.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
ABHAYAGIRI MONASTERY: Moonstone
North of Abhayagiri monastery is the Palace of Mahasen (3rd century king) which is famous for the carved moonstone. Moonstones are of the most characteristic forms of classical Sinhalese sculpture and are a semi-circular pieces of stone with richly carved bands of animals: horses, lions, bulls, elephants, all in different poses
ABHAYAGIRI MONASTERY: Samadhi Buddha
A famous piece of early Sinhalese art of the 4th century AD, Samadhi Buddha in Jetavana monastery (in meditation) was originally one of a group of 4 statues. Carved in limestone it’s presenting Buddha in meditation. It’s mostly worshipped by local crowds.
Remember to take off your shoes, pay respect to the statue (avoid taking a photo standing next to it) and it’s where you’ll find that you can’t wander around in Anuradhapura without having paid for your ticket!!
ABHAYAGIRI: Twin Baths (Kuttam Pokuna)
Used for the monks’ ritual ablution these well preserved twin baths were constructed in the 8th century. The 2 baths vary in size and are connected to each other with small holes. So the water passed from the smaller to the bigger bath.
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