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Anuradhapura & Mihintale

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It was 3rd capital of the Kingdom of Rajarata after Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara. The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of Colombo in the North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura . It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

The Jetavana stupa is the highest brick-built stupa or dagoba in the world. The paved platform on which it stands covers more than 8 acres of land & has a diameter of over 100m. In its original form the stupa stood 120m high and was the third-tallest structure in the world, surpassed only by the two great pyramids of Khufru and Khafra at Gizeh. It was also the world's biggest stupa and is still the tallest & largest structure made entirely of brick anywhere on earth. It took 27 years to build & contains over ninety million bricks.


The Jetavana Stupa










Bad Hair Day (Photo: Jim Knight)

Kuttam Pokuna or the twin ponds are another hydrologic engineering marvel of the ancient Sri Lanka. These two ponds belong to the Abayagiri aramic complex and probably been used by the monks for bathing. The origins of these ponds are not known but it is thought to have been built during the reign of King Aggabodhi I (575-608). The smaller pond (the northern) one has been constructed first and the larger one at a latter stage. They are connected through a pipeline at the bottom. The northern pond is 91 feet (28 metres) long and the other 132 feet (40 metres) . Water to these ponds have been supplied through underground pipelines and the water is sent through several filtering chambers before it falls on the the northern pond through a mouth of a dragon. The water from both ponds is drained from a small outlet in the smaller northern pond.

Kuttam Pokuna


The Samadhi Statue is a statue situated at Mahamevn?wa Park in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation associated with his first Enlightenment, also called Nirvana. Whether the Buddha's Enlightenment was the experience technically called Samadhi, or some other phenomenon, may depend upon the philosophical allegiance of the believer. In the Dhyana Mudra the Buddha sits cross - legged with his upturned palms placed one over the other on his lap. This position is universally known throughout the Buddhist world, and this statue is therefore one of the most typical pieces of Buddhist sculpture. It is not to be confused with the very similar "Earth-Touching Mudra," which depicts the simple action the Buddha took to fend off the illusions projected by Mara, who was desperate to prevent the Buddha from realizing that his, Mara's, projections, and with them the entire world, are an illusion. This statue is 8 feet in height and carved from granite.

The Samadhi Statue

Sandakada pahana, also known as Moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.[1] [2] [3] It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy period. According to historians, the sandakada pahana symbolises the cycle of Sa?s?ra in Buddhism.

Sandakada Pahana

(Photo: Jim Knight)


(Photo: Jim Knight)



The Sri Maha Bodhi is a Sacred Fig tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is said to be a tree grown from a seed from the famous Bodhi tree under which the first Buddha became enlightened. It was planted in 288 BC, and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. It was planted on a high terrace about 6.5 m (21.3 ft) above the ground and surrounded by railings, and today it is one of the most sacred objects of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world. This wall was built during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha, to protect it from wild elephants which might have attacked the tree.



(Photo: Jim Knight)

Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba is a fine white stupa guarded by a wall with a frieze of hundreds of elephants standing shoulder to shoulder. Apart from a few beside the western entrance, most are modern replacements for the originals from 140 BC. This stupa is said to be King Dutugemunu’s finest construction, but he didn’t live to see its completion. However, as he lay on his deathbed, a false bamboo-and-cloth finish was placed around the dagoba so that Dutugemunu’s final sight could be of his ‘completed’ masterpiece. Today, after incurring much damage from invading Indian forces, it rises 55m, considerably less than its original height; nor is its form the same as the earlier ‘bubble’ shape. A limestone statue south of the great dagoba is popularly thought to be of Dutugemunu. The land around the dagoba is rather like a pleasant green park, dotted with patches of ruins, the remains of ponds and pools, and collections of columns and pillars, all picturesquely leaning in different directions.

Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.


(Photo: Chandrasena)




(Photo: Jim Knight)