Anuradhapura Sacred City
Anuradhapura Sacred City Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, the first capital of the Sri Lanka flourished for almost 1500 years starting form the 4th century BC. In the middle of 3rd Century BC, after 236 years of passing away of Buddha, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka and from that point onward a great civilization was built upon the teaching of Buddha. Today Anuradhapura is one of the most sacred cities for the Buddhists all over the world and it is filled with Ancient Dagabas, monasteries, palaces, man made water tanks and royal parks.
Due to its ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization UNESCO named it as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982 under the name of Sacred City of Anuradhapura.
Buddhism and Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura was a major intellectual centre for early Theravāda Buddhism, home to revered Buddhist philosophers including Buddhaghosa.
During the reign of Dhatusena (455-473) a redaction of the Theravada Buddhist canon took place while at the same time 18 new vihara (temple complexes) where built and a statue erected for Mahinda, the Indian prince-monk who introduced Buddhism to the island. During the late Anuradhapura period, the royal family and nobility of Sri Lanka strongly supported Buddhism. As such, they frequently commissioned works of art and donated these items to Buddhist temples. In return, the temple and local Buddhist community supported the king's rule.
What to See at Anuradhapura?
Atamasthana ( the 8 sacred sites ) are considered the most important places that a Buddhist pilgrim must visit in Anuradhapura.
01. Sri Maha Bodhi
The Sri Maha bodhiya is perhaps the oldest living tree in the world. Around 245 BC, Sanghamitta Theri brought with her a branch of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightment. The tree was planted on a high terrace about 21 feet (6.5 m) above the ground and surrounded by railings. Today, the tree is one of the most sacred relics in Sri Lanka, respected by Buddhists all over the world. A wall was built around the tree during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha, to protect it from wild elephants.
Ruwanweli maha Seya was built by the great king Dutugamunu who reigned from 137BC to 119BC from Anuradhapura. Next to Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruwanweli Seya temple is the most venerated Buddhist site in Anuradhapura.
After the defeat of Elara, the South Indian invader and bringing the whole country under one rule by the great warrior king Dutugemunu, building of Ruwanweli Seya has been given the most prominence in most ancient texts in Sri Lanka. The original stupa has been about 180 feet (55 metres) in height and had been expanded and renovated by many kings thereafter. The stupa is 350 feet (107 metres) in height and 300 feet (92 metres) in diameter today.
King Dutugamunu didn’t live to see the completion of this massive stupa. When the king fell ill, he sent his brother to complete the work of the stupa. On King Dutugamunu’s death bed he wanted to see this stupa and his brother covered the whole dome in white cloth and constructed the upper portion of the stupa in bamboo and painter it in imitation gold and carried the king to the stupa to show the “competed” stupa. After the kings death the Saddhatissa finished the remaining work.
This is the first stupa to be built in the country after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Built in the time of king Devamnampiyatissa (250BC – 210BC) this was a stupa as well as an Aramic complex (monastery). Today ruins of this complex covers nearly 3 ½ acres. The stupa was built on the instructions of Mahinda Thero who brought Buddhism to the island to enshrine the right collar-bone of Lord Buddha.
On this stupa you can see a unique architectural feature called vatadage, a stupa-house. This building completely housed the stupa. At present four concentric circles of stone pillars are found around the stupa. They diminish in height from inner most circle and at one time carried the weight of a dome-shaped roof over the stupa. There has been 176 pillars which supported this stupa house and in 1896, 31 complete pillars with capitals has been standing. This vatadage has been built in the 1st century AC.
Lovamahapaya is a building situated between Ruwanweliseya and Sri Mahabodiya in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya because the roof was covered with bronze tiles.
In ancient times, the building included the refectory and the uposathagara (Uposatha house). There was also a Simamalake where the Sangha assembled on Poya days to recite the sutra of the confessional. The famous Lohaprasada built by King Dutugemunu, described as an edifice of nine stories, was a building of this class. One side of the building was 400 ft (120 m) in length. There are 40 rows, each row consisting of 40 stone pillars, for a total of 1600 pillars. It is said that Lovamahapaya was adorned with corals and precious stones.[according to whom?] It is believed that it took six years for the construction of the building and the plan was brought from the heavens. The building was completely destroyed during the reign of King Saddhatissa.
Whilst the Jetavanaramaya, Abhayagiriya and Ruwanwelisaya were taller structures, the Lovamahapaya remained the tallest building of the island for over a millennium between 155BC and 993AD. The small building displayed now is a recent construction and is the Venue of Uposatha (chapter house) of the Maha Vihara even now.
Abhayagiri Vihāra was a major monastery site of Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhism that was situated in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is one of the most extensive ruins in the world and one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage cities in the nation. Historically it was a great monastic centre as well as a royal capital, with magnificent monasteries rising to many stories, roofed with gilt bronze or tiles of burnt clay glazed in brilliant colors. To the north of the city, encircled by great walls and containing elaborate bathing ponds, carved balustrades and moonstones, stood "Abhayagiri", one of seventeen such religious units in Anuradhapura and the largest of its five major viharas. One of the focal points of the complex is an ancient stupa, the Abhayagiri Dagaba. Surrounding the humped dagaba, Abhayagiri Vihara was a seat of the Northern Monastery, or Uttara Vihara and the original custodian of the Tooth relic in the island.
The term "Abhayagiri Vihara" refers not only to the complex of monastic buildings, but also a fraternity of Buddhist monks, or Sangha, which maintained its own historical records, traditions and way of life. Founded in the 2nd century BC, it had grown into an international institution by the 1st century AD, attracting scholars from all over the world and encompassing all shades of Buddhist philosophy. Its influence can be traced to other parts of the world, through branches established elsewhere. Thus, the Abhayagiri Vihara developed as a great institution vis‑a‑vis the Mahavihara and the Jetavana Buddhist monastic sects in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Anuradhapura.
The Jetavanarama stupa or Jetavanaramaya is a stupa, or Buddhist reliquary monument, located in the ruins of Jetavana monastery in the UNESCO world heritage city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. At 122 metres (400 ft), it is the largest brick structure, and was the world's tallest stupa; and the third tallest structure in the world when it was built by King Mahasena of Anuradhapura (273–301). He initiated the construction of the stupa following the destruction of the Mahaviharaya of Anuradhapura. His son Maghavanna I completed the construction of the stupa, and was renovated by Parakramabahu I of Polonnaruwa. A part of a sash or belt tied by the Buddha is believed to be the relic that is enshrined here.
The structure is significant in the island's history as it represents the tensions within the Theravada and Mahayana sects of Buddhism; it is also significant in recorded history as one of the tallest structures in the ancient world; and the tallest non-pyramidal building; the height of the stupa was 122 metres (400 ft), making it the tallest stupa in the ancient world. With the destruction and abandonment of Anuradhapura kingdom in the 11th century, the stupa with others was covered by jungle. King Parakramabahu in 12th century tried to renovate this stupa and it was rebuilt to the current height, a reduction from the original height. Today it stands at 71 metres (233 ft).
07. Mirisaweti Stupa
The Mirisaweti Stupa is a memorial building, a stupa, situated in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. King Dutugamunu (161 BC to 137 BC) built the Mirisaveti Stupa after defeating King Elara. After placing the Buddha relics in the sceptre, he had gone to Tissa Wewa for a bath leaving the sceptre. After the bath he returned to the place where the sceptre was placed, and it is said that it could not be moved. The stupa was built in the place where the sceptre stood. It is also said that he remembered that he partook a chilly curry without offering it to the sangha. In order to punish himself he built the Mirisavetiya Dagaba. The extent of this land is about 50 acres (20 ha). Although the king Kasyapa I and Kasyapa V renovated this, from time to time it was dilapidated.
Lankarama is a stupa built by King Valagamba, in an ancient place at Galhebakada in the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Nothing is known about the ancient form of the stupa, and later this was renovated. The ruins show that there are rows of stone pillars and it is no doubt that there has been a house built encircling the stupa (vatadage) to cover it. The round courtyard of the stupa seems to be 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. The diameter of the stupa is 45 feet (14 m). The courtyard is circular in shape and the diameter is 1332 feet (406 m).