Anuradhapura/Abayagiri and Jethavana Stupas /Shri Maha Bodhi/Mihinthale/Aukana Buddha
Sri Lanka’s first capital, founded in the 5 c. B. C, according to the ancient / Sinhala chronicle Mahavamsa. Anuradhapura was an example par excellence of a Hydraulic Civilization. The construction of reservoirs, canals and irrigation channels during this period exhibited an amazing knowledge of trigonometry and the design of reservoirs a thorough grasp of hydraulic principles. The ornamental scale of the large reservoirs is convincing evidence of a thriving economy and a state structure which had resources from trade to invest in these projects as well as on religious and public buildings designed on a generous scale. The unique feature of Buddhist Sri Lanka is the Stupa (Dagoba), which enshrined relics of the Buddha and were objects of veneration. It is generally a solid, hemispherical dome, which expresses the serenity and simplicity the essence of Buddhism.
Abayagiri and Jethavana Stupas
The Abayagiri Stupa (meaning mountain of valor) built by the warrior King Valagam Bahu in the 1c. B. C. and Jethavana Stupa built by King Mahasem om the 3c. A. D. were taller than the third pyramid of Giza and were the wonders of the world at the time, with the Jethavana most likely being the largest stupa in the whole Buddhist world.
Shri Maha Bodhi
The sacred Bodhi Tree (Ficus Religiosa) the world’s oldest authenticated tree is the most venerated of shrines in Anuradhapura. Grown from a branch of the very Bodhi Tree in Buddhagaya, India, beneath which is the Buddha found Enlightenment, brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd c. B.C. by Sangamitta sister of Arahat Mahinda. Throughout the centuries the Sri Maha Bodhi has been venerated by Buddhists in Sri Lanka and all over the world. The gold gilded ‘Ran Veta’ (fence) is a recent offering made through public contributions.
The ‘Cradle of Buddhism’, 11K.M. east of Anuradhapura. Its history dates back to 247c.B.C.When King Devanampiyatissa met Arhath Mahinda the great Buddhist missionary who preached the Buddhist doctrine to the king. Mihintale, ‘the mountain of Mahinda’ was identified as a great monastic city.Today it is venerated daily, especially on poson full moon poya day remembering this historic event. The king having embraced Buddhism declared the forest where he met the Sage, a sanctuary, the first historically documented sanctuary in the world.
Situated 51k.m. to the southeast of Anuradhapura, is the most marvelous undamaged Buddha image in the island. 13m. high it stands beneath a shelter now, built for protection. Parenthetically, the Willpattu National Park could be visited either on your way to Anuradhapura or from Anuradhapura as a half day of full day tour.