Places of Worship in Sri Lanka. The island of Sri Lanka has been a favorite haunt of aliens, extra terrestrials, gods, devas, angels, sky dwellers, demons, deities whichever way you describe them. Our chronicles, traditions, folklore, prehistoric cave drawings, archaeological evidence and ancient traveler’s’ records testify that there have been strange beings living in this island from time immemorial.
“There were and there are Mountains, Hills, buildings and even plants with full of mysteries, power and wisdom which are beyond human understanding. 200 million years ago, geologically Sri Lanka was linked with India, Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica, in a land mass known as Gondwana. Sri Lanka separated into a land mass known as Lanka Dvipa (Island of Lanka), and part of the land submerged into the sea. According to the Ramayana epic this took place because of the misdeeds of Ravana, but this seismic happening is confirmed by modern science.
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Places of Worship Highlights
Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya – Colombo
Situated about six miles from Colombo, set within a sacred area of around ten acres, the Kelani Vihara stands beside the Kelani river as evidence of a Buddhist tradition in this country.Most sacred worshipping places of the Buddhists of Sri Lanka since it is a site made hallowed by the visit of Lord Buddha. In the past Kelaniya itself was a large city and the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya was one of the largest and one of the most beautiful temples of Sri Lanka.
The spot on which this vihara stands derived its sanctity in the Buddhist era 2531, with the third visit of the Buddha to this country.The fact that the Buddha visited the spot on a Wesak day on the invitation of King Maniakkhika is given in the historic epics of Sri Lanka.
The Naga King, according to these chronicles had invited the Buddha to a repast at this spot which following the expounding of the Dhamma was consecrated and on which the King had built a vehera wherein the Buddha’s hair and the utensils use at the repast together with the seat on which the Buddha sat were buried.
However with the advent of time and the destruction of the vihara by the foreign invaders has resulted in the original dageba being lost today.
Kaleniya Vihara however, received its hallowed status and became a place of Buddhist worship after venerable Mahinda brought the Dhamma to this country.
According to the Mahawansa King Devanampiyatissa’s brother Uttiya renovated the vihara for the first time. He is also said to have built the first Quaters of the Monks (Sanghawasa) there.
Historical evidence shows that the Kelaniya Vihara was at its highest glory during the Kotte Era. By the time the Portuguese conquered the country considerable land had been donated by the kings to the Kelaniya Vihara, and when in 1510 the Portuguese entered and destroyed the secret temple. They had confiscated this land preventing Buddhists from worshiping at the temple.
Restrictions placed on the development of Kelaniya were reduced with the advent of the Dutch. They in 1767 perhaps in order to gain King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha’s good will permitted him to develop Kelaniya Vihara. Thus the reconstruction of the Vihara was undertaken by the then Chief incumbent Venerable Mapitigama Buddharakkhita. He was provided with funds from the treasury. The King was so overjoyed at the way the work was handled that further grants of lands had been given to the vihara.
Bellanwila Raja Ma Viharaya- Colombo
Situated Bellanwila, Colombo district. In the temple-studded paradise island of Sri Lanka, Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara occupies a special place. This temple is considered so sacred that there is a long cherished belief that a child who treads the ground under the shade of its scared Bodhi-tree will never fail in life.
Gangaramaya – Colombo
Situated 61 Sri Jinaratana Road, Hunupitiya, Colobmo 2. The Temple developed modern period, after 1815 CE.
This Buddhist temple includes several imposing buildings and is situated not far from the placid waters of Beira Lake on a plot of land that was originally a small hermitage on a piece of marshy land. It has the main features of a Vihara (temple), the Cetiya (Pagada) the Bodhitree, the Vihara Mandiraya, the Simamalaka and the Relic Chamber. In addition, a museum, a library, a residential hall, a three storeyed Pirivena, educational halls and an alms hall are also on the premises.
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya – Kotte
Situated Kotte Road, Kotte Road. The Ancient Temple developed during Kotte period. Beg 5th – End 6th Cen.
Dewatagaha Mosque – Colombo
Situated Kotte Road, Kotte Road. The Ancient Temple developed during Kotte period. Beg 5th – End Dewatagaha Mosque in Lipton’s Circus, Colombo, has become a byword in every Muslim home, and no Muslim passes the shrine of the saint without paying his respects.
The 150-year-old shrine the resting-place of the Muslim saint, His Holiness Seyedina as-Sheikh Usman Siddique Ibn Ahdurrahman, who visited Ceylon from Arafat, Arabia and visited Adam’s Peak and Dafter Jailani shrine at Balangoda, and later resided in what was later known as Cinnamon Gardens,
Dharmagaveshi Temple – Colombo 7
Dharmagaveshi is a temple on Baudhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. It has a unique architectural style and is definitely worth a visit when you are in Colombo.
Kalutara Bodhiya – Kalutara
Kalutara Bodhiya is probably the most visited temple in Sri Lanka and is 42 kilometers south of Colombo on the way to Galle by the Kalu Ganga.
Tooth Temple (Dalada Maligawa) – Kandy
The Sacred Tooth Relic, which is housed at the Dalada Maligava in Kandy , is the most precious and venerated object for Buddhist in Sri Lanka . It is treated with the same reverence and dignity as a living Buddha.
The Tooth is believed to be a left incisor of the Buddha. It is said that Khema Thera retrieved this relic from the Buddha’s funeral pyre and handed it over to King Bambadath of Dantha, Kalinga. It continued to be honoured and venerated under the many kings that followed. During the era of King Guhaseeva, a king of neighboring city waged war to claim ownership of the relic. Guhaseeva, who was fearful of the Sacred Tooth Relic falling in to enemy hands, instructed his daughter Princess Hemamala and her husband Price Dantha to smuggle it to Sri Lanka . So the relic arrived in Sri Lanka hidden inside the Princess’ hair and was handed over to Bhikku residing at Meghagiri Vihara. The Bhikku informed then the king of Anuradhapura , Krithisena Mevan of it , and the king received the Tooth Relic with much pomp and pageantry and built special premises to house it.
It remained in Anuradhapura for over 700 years and removed to Polonnaruwa when the kindom saw a foreign invasion. The relic was moved each time a new kingdom was established and special premises were built to accommodate it. It moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa and thereafter to Dmbadeniya, Kurunegala, Gampola, Sri Jayawardenapura and Kotte before making its way to Kandy .
The present Temple was of the Tooth in Kandy was constructed by King Wimaladharmasuriya I and was renovated by Wimaladharmasuriya II.
The inner palace was created by King Kreethi Sri Rajasinha who carried out special Dalada Poojas without a break and also introduced the Dalada Maligawa Perehara to the annual Kandy Perehara.
He protected it during Dutch invasions too. The Tooth Relic was under King Sri Wickrema Rajasinha when the British invaded and was removed to various safe places outside the main city for protection.
It is said that Wariyapola Sri Sumangala Thera kept the relic hidden in his robes to protect it from foreign invaders. The British, hearing of this, arrested the Thera and took the relic under their wing.
When they finally took over Sri Lanka on March 2, 1815, the Sacred Tooth Relic was brought back to Kandy and was reinstalled at the Dalada Maligawa with full honours on April 25, 1815.
After Sri Lanka regained independence, the Tooth Relic was put under the charge of the Malwatte and Asiri Theras and the Diyawadane Nilame.
The Sacred Tooth Relic is now placed under seven protective golden caskets.It is brought out only during special public viewings held once every couple of years. Ever since the sacred Tooth Relic arrived in Sri Lanka, it had been afforded pried of place by the country’s rulers and there have always been strong links between the rulers and those in charge of the Dalada Maligawa.
Degaldoruwa Viharaya – Kandy
This cave temple is situated 11/2 miles North East of the ferry ar Levella Amunugama, Kandy District. and was built by King Kirtisiri Rajasingha (1747-1782 CE). The Ancient Temple developed during Gampola period Mid. 14th-Beg. 15th Cen.
Degaldoruwa and Gangarama temples are approachable along the Thennekumbura road by the side of the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Both these viharas, built by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, are cave temples of the 18th Century and are famous for the Kandyan murals. The first temple has a standing Buddha image and the second has a redining image of Buddha in the main shrine. The Gangarama is the closest to the town. The frescoes depicting the Buddhist Jathaka Tales, represented as scenes from everyday life in contemporary Kandy, are some of the finest examples of Buddhist Temple Art in Sri Lanka.
Lankatilleke Rajamaha Viharaya – Kandy
Situated Handess, Kandy District, It is about 3 miles off the Daulagala road which turns right from near the 65th mile-post on the Colombo-Kandy road.. The Ancient Temple developed during Gampola period Mid. 14th-Beg. 15th Cen.Although not as well known as the Temple of the Tooth, the Lankathillake Rajamaha Vihara is another interesting site in the district of Kandy.
The Vihara, also known as the Blue Temple, is built on the summit of a rock known as Panhalgala is the village of Rabbegamuwa in the Udunuwara Division of the Kandy district. The Temple which depicts both Buddhist and Hindu features, is situated about 12 kilometers away from the Peradeniya bridge.
The Lankathillake Vihara is believed to have been constructed between the 14th and 18th centuries and is said to be one of the largest buildings to be constructed during this period.
Senalankadhikara, a warrior under King Buwanekabahu IV (who reigned from 1344 to 1354), is generally believed to have constructed the temple.
Its architectural features, sculpture, inscriptions on the rock – face and paintings are distinctive to the Kandy period. Some say the brick-built structure has feature similer to those of the Polonnaruwa era except for the two halls infront of the image house.
The wall built around the building has given it a rather square shape instead of the usual rectangular shape.The temple’s long series of steps cut directly into the rock is a peculiar architectural design. Beautiful paintings can be seen all over the temple which also carries images of the 24 Buddhas and a huge seated statue of the Budda. The three-storeyed building has carvings belonging to the Kandy period.
It provides a magnificent view of the surrounding country-side.
Gadaldeniye Temple – Kandy
Situated Gadaladeniya, Kandy District,off the Daulagala road which turns right from near the 65th mile-post on the Colornbo-Kandy road. The Ancient Temple developed during Gampola period Mid. 14th-Beg. 15th Cen
Approximately 3km (2 miles) on foot or by bus north of Lankatilake, and l km (0.6 miles) south of the main Colombo road, this is a mainly Buddhist temple with a Hindu shrine attached. It contains some interesting Buddha images and frescoes from the 14th century.
Gadaladeniya Viharaya Pilimatalawa, Kandy Built almost exclusively of stone in 1344 by the Gampola King Wicramabahu, situated on a hilltop, commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
The architecture is Dravidian. The entrance porch features large stone pillars which support a roof of huge stone slabs. The 638 year old jak wood doors still exhibit their original paintings.
Mahiyangana – Kandy
Mahiyangana is 42 km from Kandy.
It is on the banks of the Mahavali river. Legend says this was the first stupa in Sri Lanka. The Buddha is said to have visited Mahiyangana nine months after his enlightenment on the full moon of Phussa (Dec ? Jan). Foreseeing that the Dhamma would become established in Lanka he came to dispel the yakkhas and preach to the devas. As he was about to leave, Samantha who had become a Stream Enterer, begged him to give the devas an object of worship and so the Buddha gave him a few hairs from his head. On receiving the hairs Samantha, placed them in a golden urn and then enshrined them in a stupa of blue sapphire seven cubits high. The Mahavamsa says that after the Buddha?s cremation a monk named Sarabhu took some ashes from the pyre and bought them to Sri Lanka where he deposited them in the sapphire stupa and then encased it in brick and stone. This, according to the legend, is the stupa that we see today. Moving from legend to history the Mahavamsa says that at the time of Devananpiyatissa, Prince Uddhaya Culabhaya enlarged the stupa making it 30 cubits high. Duttagamani enlarged it further and on orders from Vijayabahu I it underwent major renovations. An inscription dating from the 10th century gives an example of the unexpected benefits of pilgrimage. When King Udaya IV visited Mahiyangana on pilgrimage some of his subjects begged an audience with him and informed him of numerous malpractices in the local market. The king consequently ordered his officers to draw up new regulations for the better running of the market.
Several of the kings of Kandy made pilgrimages to Mahiyangana. King Narendrasinghe went twice and King Virawickrama performed the whole pilgrimage on foot. By the 19th century the stupa and most of the shrines around it were in a very dilapidated state and in 1949 a society was formed to restore it.
The Department of Archaeology was invited to do a thorough investigation of the stupa before it was repaired. The relic chamber was opened and its walls were found to covered with paintings, their colours as fresh as if they had just been done. The paintings show the Buddha being tempted by Mara as he sits under the Bodhi Tree. Other paintings show Brahma, Siva, Vishnu and other devas. The relic chamber is thought to date from Vijayabahu?s renovations in the 11th century and has now been reassembled in the Anuradhapura museum.
Gangarama Viharaya – Kandy
Located about 2 kilometers to the east of the Palace complex, the image house is built around a ten metre high standing Buddha statue, carved out of an in-situ natural rock. The central hall of the building covered with a double pitched hipped roof is cladded with flat clay tiles. The lower roof covers the verandah built around the central hall. Entrance to the central shrine is through a decorated arched door. The inner walls of the shrine are completely covered with finely drawn murals that speak of the artistic and religious concepts of the ancient kings.
Hindagala Viharaya – Kandy
This is an ancient temple belonging to the Malwatta Vihara found further away at Peradeniya – Galaha road and the location is very beautiful covered with long green trees and bounded by a cascading stream flowing through the forest. A cave temple on a hill is reached by a long steep flight of stone steps. One of the caves has been converted to an image house with a large reclining Buddha statue. Mural Paintings preserved in this cave has been done in four periods of Sri Lankan History. The earliest is on the rock ceiling (7th century), the paintings on interior walls of the shrine are of 14th and 18th centuries and the exterior wall paintings are of 1911.
Nalanda Viharaya – Kandy
This small site, 50 km north of Kandy. Its particular interest lies in the association of a solid traditional Buddhist Vihara on the right with the thick walled hollow temple of Hindu inspiration called a Gedige on the left.
Adahana Maluwa Temple – Kandy
Situated Asgiriya, KandyDistrict, Ven. Upali Thera from Thailand, who brought the Higher Ordination in the 18th century was cremated here. The Ancient Temple developed during Kandy period. End 16th Cen-1815 CE
Galmaduwa Viharaya – Kandy
Situated Hindagala, Kandy District. This temple could be reached by proceeding one mile on the Kalapura Road from Nattaranpota, which is on the Kandy-Kundasale Road. The Ancient Temple developed during Kandy period. End 16th Cen-1815 CE.
Vishnu Devale – Kandy
On to the North-West of the palace, is the Maha Vishnu Devale a shrine built in the 18th Century dedicated to God Vishnu of the Hindu Pantheon also worshiped by the Buddhists. On the upper terrace is the main linear building, a mug and stone structure on a podium, with an upper story at the Northern end above the sanctuary where the icon is placed. This building complex is entered through a two storeyed Vahalkada (entrance doorway), to an open hall with timber columns in the middle terrace, a beautifully carved stone flight of steps and the grumming hall. On the upper terrace is another small shrine, the God Dedimunda’s Shrine and a large Bo-tree.
Natha Devale – Kandy
Natha Devale is the oldest shrine in Kandy, built in the 14th century. One of the best examples showing the influence of South Indian architecture; a stone built structure depicting three storeys, surmounted with a domical stupa on top of the inner chamber is entered through an open colonnade hall. The two upper storeys are non functional. It has a beautiful bronze icon of God Lokeshwara Natha, a Bodhisathwa of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. The entrance Vahalkada of the Devale, is a beautifully ornamented double roofed archway, a good or typical example of an entrance gateway in Sinhalese architecture.
Pattini Devale – Kandy
Situated to the west of Natha Devale across the Eth Veediya (Elephant street) is the Pattini Devale. A simple, small mud built rectangular building with an imposing roof on the top. This shrine is dedicated to the Goddess of Chastity, Pattni Deviyo.
Outside the entrance archway to Pattini Devale at the Northern wall is an ancient Bo-tree shrin, ‘ Well Bodhiya’ on top of a stepped terraced platform. This Bodhi tree, is venerated as one of the off-shoots of the Sacred Bo-tree in Anuradhapura.
About 6krn (4 miles) southwest of Peradeniya and 3 km (2 miles) east of the main road to Nuwara Eliya, around 13km (8 miles) from the centre of Kandy, this small Buddhist temple dates from the 14th century and is graced by wooden columns elaborately sculpted with birds, dancers, acrobats and wrestlers. Open during daylight hours.
Here is a small village called “Arathtana” which was, many moons ago in Sri Lanka, well known for its dancers and drummers. In this village lived a drummer who had a skin disease. He tried every possible treatment to rid himself of his problem, but none of them worked. Every medicine failed to cure him. He decided to go to the “temple of Katharagama”, a temple in the southern part of Sri Lanka. This temple was built for the god of Katharagama.
He went there and asked the god of Katharagama to cure his illness, promising to worship the temple annually. Then his illnesses were cured, and he kept his promise to Katharagama for many, many years.
It was a long, tiresome journey to the south and finally the time came when he knew his body could no longer make the trip. For the last time he traveled to the temple and praied the god that he could no longer continue his annual ritual, as he was too old. The sad drummer returned home and that night, the god of katharagama spoke to him in his dreams. He made a prediction.
The god said, “in few days, a miracle will happen! You must go there and perform your traditional drumming!” As predicted by the god the miracle happened.
There was a flower garden known as Ambakka, which belonged to the wife of King Wickramabahu- Queen Henakanda Bissobandara.
When the gardener was working in the garden he tried to remove a “Kaduru” tree from the garden. When he cut it a stream of blood began to flow from the tree. The drummer heard of this miracle and so went to the flower garden to perform the rituals as he was ordered to do by the god. He built a small temple out of tree branches around the tree. It has been called the “Ambakka Devalaya” ever since.
After some days the king of “gangasiripura”, “gampola” king Wickramabahu, was informed about the event. The king ordered to build a three story building in the land. He gave land and Elephants as gifts to the temple. His queen’s jewellery was also given to the temple as a gift. Since then the temple of ambakka is worshipped by thousands of people every year. They say, even today, the drummer’s ancestors’ perform rituals in the temple.
Ambakka is very special because it owns some of the gratest carvings in Sri lanka. the temple is situated in the central province. there are several ways to get there. the road map is as shown bellow.
here are total of eight buildings built for the temple of Ambakka. Six buildings are in the inner temple, and two of them outside. The structures that are inside the surrounding wall are known as the ‘inner temple’. The structures that are outside the wall are known as the ‘outer temple’.
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya – Anuradhapura
During the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, Tt was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Maha Mevuna Uyana in Anuradhapura in 249 BC. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.
This is the oldest living tree in documented history. It was planted on a high terrace about 21 feet above the ground and surrounded by railings and today it is one of the most sacred relics of the Buddhists in Ceylon. These are other bo-trees in close proximity to this sacred bo-tree. The parapat wall round the compound where the bo-tree is planted is about 700 ft. in length. This wall was constructed during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha, to protect it from the wild Elephants.
The Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of the Sinhalese provides an elaborate account of the establishment of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in the island. Bodhi means wisdom that understands the four Noble Truths.
Thus the tree which assisted Lord Buddha to achieve wisdom or enlightenment is called Bodhi.
Ruwanveliseya – Anuradhapura
Ruvanveliseya is the dagoba of Maha Vihara. It was built by a Sinhalese hero King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century B.C. This is also known as the Mahathupa. Swarnamali Chaitya and Rathnamali Dagaba. The Thupavamsa gives a complete account about the construction of Ruwanvelisaya.
This dagaba was built on a firm foundation. It is recorded that inside the dagaba are enshrined valuable gems statues made out of gold, various valuable objects and also relics of the Buddha. On the four side of the Stupa are the frontispieces (Vahalkada). The Courtyard on which the stone tablets are laid is known as the Salapatala courtyard. Below the Salapatala courtyard is the compound made of Sand (Valimaluwa). On the four sides of the compound are the parapat walls with its figures of Elephants and has been made to appear as though it was supported by the elephants. There are 1900 figures of elephants on the wall consisting of 475 on each side. Therefore it is known as the elephant compound. In the temple courtyard are the old models of Ruwanvalisaya made of stone, a statue of King Dutugemunu worshipping the dagaba. In the image house situated in the temple courtyard are 4 statues of the Buddhas who have attained Buddhahood in this aeon (kalpa) and future Buddhas (Maitri). All these creations are very old. The pinnacle of Ruwanvelisaya is 24 ft, in height. The crest gem on the pinnacle is a gift from Burma. Ruvanvalisaya is situated a few yards away from Lovamahapaya.
It is recorded in books that King Lajjitissa erected 3 altars in marble. King Mahadathika Mahanaga constructed the circular portion of the courtyard made of stone tablets.
(Salapatala courtyard). Ballathanaga constructed the valimaluwa (made of sand), while King Parakramabahu the Great renovated the dagaba.
Thuparamaya – Anuradhapura
Thera Mahinda himself introduced Theravada Buddhism and also chetiya worship to Ceylon. At his request King Devanampiyatissa built Thuparamaya in which was enshrined the collarbone of the Buddha and is considered as the first dagaba built in Ceylon, after the introduction of Buddhism. This chetiya was built in the shape of a heap of paddy. This dagaba was destroyed from time to time. During the reign of King Agbo II it was completely destroyed and the King restored it. What we have today is the construction of the dagaba, done in 1862 AD. As it is today, after several renovations, in the course of the centuries, the monument has a diameter of 59 ft, at the base. The dome is 11 feet and 4 inches in height from the ground, 164 ½ in diameter. The compound is paved with granite and there are 2 rows of stone pillars round the dagaba. During the early period vatadage was built round the dagaba.
Lovamahapaya (Brazen Palce ) – Anuradhapura
Is situated between Ruvanveliseya and Sri Mahabodiya. It is also known as the Brazen Palce or Lohaprasadaya. 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 formula of the confessional.
The famous Lohaprasada built by King Dutugemunu described as an edifice of nine storeys, was a building of this class. One side of the building was 400 ft in length. As the roof was covered with tiles made of bronze, this was known as the Brazen Palace. There are 40 rows, each row consisting of 40 stone pillars and a total of 1600 stone pillars were used for the building. It is believed that it took 6 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.
Abhayagiriya – Anuradhapura
King Valagamba ascended the throne in 103 AD. He waged war with the Tamils and was defeated. When he fled, a Nigantha named Giri shouted words of derisive mockery at him. Later the king collected an army attacked the Tamils by slaying the last of their leaders, and recovered the throne he had lost. It is said that he demolished Nigantaramaya (the temple of the Niganthas) and built the Abhayagiri Vihara in the same premises. Shortly after this event, the monks of the Mahavihara took disciplinary action against one of the bhikkus of the Abhayagiri Vihara, for violating a rule of the vinaya.
Thereafter the bhikkhus of the Abhayagiri Vihara founded a separate sect there. King Valagamba’s reign is marked by an important event – the first schism in Buddhism in Ceylon. Most learned bhikkhus lives in Abhayagiri Vihara. It consisted of a large library. It is recorded that during the reigns of King Voharakatissa and King Gothabhaya this library was destroyed and the heretical monks driven away.
King Parakramabahu renovated Abhayagiri Vihara, then the height is said to have been 140 cubits. In the year 1875, Abhayagiri Vihara which had a diameter of 307 feet at its base, stood to a height of 231 feet.
The relics of the Buddha is said to have been enshrined in a figure of a bull made out of thick gold.
Jetavanaramaya – Anuradhapura
King Mahasen (273-301 AD) has the honour of being the creater of the largest stupa is Ceylon. A part of a sash (belt tied by the Buddha is believed to be enshrined here). Its height is said to be 400 feet. This is considered as the largest stupa in the whole worldIt is also being renovated with help from UNESCO.
This stupa belongs to the Sagalika sect. The compound of the stupa is 8 acres. One side of the stupa is 576 feet in depth. The 4 flight of steps at the four sides is 28 feet in depth. The doorpost to the shrine which is situated at the courtyard is 27 feet in height. It is a feet underground. There are some stone inscriptions in the courtyard with the names of donors inscribed.
Mirisavetiya – Anuradhapura
King Dutugamunu after defeating King Elara, built the Mirisaveti Stupa. After placing the Buddha relics in the scepter, he had gone to Tisawewa for a bath leaving the scepter. After the bath he returned to the place where the scepter was placed, and it is said that it could not be moved. The stupa was built in the place where the scepter 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. Although the king Kasyapa I and Kasyapa V renovated this, from time to time it was dilapidated. What stands today is the renovation done by the cultural Triangle Fund.
Dakkhina Stupa – Anuradhapura
According to an inscription this stupa was constructed by Uttiya, a Minister of King Valagamba. For sometime by an error it was considered as Elara’s tomb. King Kanittha Tissa had build an alms hall, King Gottabhaya built an uposathagaraya, where the bhikkhis assembled for the ceremony of confession, while King Agbo I constructed a large building. The Bhikkhus of the Sagalika sect resided here. The most popularly known fact is that this stupa was constructed on the tomb of King Dutugemunu. Human bones that were collected were sent to France and according to the scientific analysis it was revealed that these ashes belong to King Dutugemunu.
Naka Vihara – Anuradhapura
This stupa built in bricks, is square in shape. This is constructed according to an unusual model and would have been similar to the 7 storeyed building (Satmahal Prasadaya) in Polonnaruwa. Excavations done in this place reveal that there were several clay caskets.
Kiribath Vehera – Anuradhapura
The remains of this vihara shows that it is 30 feet in height and the circumference is 425 feet. The date of construction and the king who built it, is unknown. In close proximity to this are the ruins of an image house. There is contraversy whether the Pattamaka Chetiya built by King Devanampiyatissa is one and the same.
Samadhi Statue – Anuradhapura
Is built at Anuradhapura in the Mahamevuna Park. It is said that this is one of the best pieces of sculpture. The statue is 8 feet in height and made of granite and the Dhyana mudra is symbolished – The posture of meditation in which Buddha sits in the cross – legged position with upturned palms, placed one over the other on the lap.
Toluwila Statue – Anuradhapura
Which has a close resemblance to the Samadhi statue at Anuradhapura, was found among the ruins in a temple at Toluwila in Anuradhapura. It is 5’9′ in height. The gap between the knees is 5’9″. The width between the shoulders is 3’5″. At present this statue is placed near the main entrance to the Colombo Museum.
Avukana Buddha Statue – Anuradhapura
Avukana is situated in Anuradhapura district and could be reached by travelling along Kurunegala-Dambulla road or through Galewala-Kalawewa road. This is approachable by train too.
This is one of the largest statues in Ceylon and situated facing Kalawewa. This standing Buddha statue including the pedestal is 42 feet in height. The right hand depicts the Abhaya Mudra (The posture of hand in icons in which the raised upper arm of the right hand is held, palm outwards indicating freedom from fear). The left hand shows that it is holding the robe. One of the special features of this statue is that both hands are turned upwards. On the head is the Siraspatha (A feature over head of the Buddha statue), excluding the Siraspatha and the pedestal, the height is 38’10’.
The rock cut colossus at Avukana, which is almost in the round and there being a narrow strip left to hold the image to the rock is one of the magnificent statues of Ceylon. From the ruins of the foundation and the walls, it can be seen that the statue would have been enclosed in a building. The hood over the statue is a modern construction. It is believed that King Dhatusena the architect of Kalawewa is the builder of the statue.
Aukana Raja Maha Viharaya- Anuradhapura
Situated Vijithapura, Anuradhapura District
Proceeding on the Kalawewa (tank) bund at the 9th milepost is this remarkable stone statue of the Buddha 38 feet 10 inches in height. It is the work of King Dhatusena (455-477 CE).The Ancient Temple developed during Anuradhapura period. 3rd Cen. BC-11th Cen. CE.
Thanthirimale Raja Maha Viharaya – Anuradhapura
Thanthirimale Buddhist Shrine was built during the Anuradhapura era in the 3rd century BC and is situated on a rock, 41 km away from Anuradhapura. It had been known as “Thiwakka Bamunugama” during the times of ancient kings. It is believed that Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta on her way to Anuradhapura with the Sri Maha Bodhi sapling rested here. The shrine was abandoned due to South Indian invasion during the end of the Anuradhapura period.
Isurumuniya – Anuradhapura
Is situated near Tisawewa and was built by King Devanampiyatissa. After 500 children of high-caste were ordained, Isurumuniya was built for them to reside. King Kasyapa I (473-491 AD) renovated this viharaya and named it as “Boupulvan, Kasubgiri Radmaha Vehera”. This name is derived from names of his 2 daughters and his name. There is a viharaya connected to a cave and above is a cliff. A small stupa is built on it. It can be seen that the constructional work of this stupa belong to the present period. Lower down on both sides of a cleft, in a rock that appears to rise out of a pool, have been carved the figures of Elephants. On the rock is carved the figure of a horse. The carving of Isurumuniya lovers on the slab has been brought from another place and placed it there. A few yards away from this vihara is the Magul Uyana. The Ancient Temple developed during Anuradhapura period. 3rd Cen. BC-11th Cen. CE
Eight miles east of Anuradhapura, close to the Anuradhapura – Trincomalee Road is situated the “Missaka Pabbata” which is 1000 feet in height and is one of the peaks of a mountainous range. Though this was called Cetiyagiri or Sagiri, it was popularly known as Mihintale – the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
This large stupa known as the Maha Saya is on the summit of the Mihintale hill, built by King Mahadathika Mahanaga (7-19 AD) the base of which is 136 ft in diameter. The stupa which was in a dilapidated condition was completely restored.
Rankot Viharaya – Polonnaruwa
The largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa at 55m (180ft) high, this building is the hub of the group of buildings known as the Alahana Pirivena (‘Crematory College’) group which formed part of a monastic college during the reign of Parakramabahu.
Lankatilaka Viharaya – Polonnaruwa
A huge temple constructed during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu 1 and renovated by Vijayabahu IV (1270-1272 CE), the 17m (56ft) high walls still stand, but the roof is gone, as is the head of the colossal Buddha image that stands within. The walls are carved with friezes of Polonnaruwa in its golden age.
One of the best preserved ancient dagobas of Sri Lanka, it is said tohave been constructed by Subadhra, Consort of King Parakrama Bahu 1 (1153-1186 CE). This large dagoba’s whitewashed plaster has survived seven centuries of abandonment to the jungle between the collapse of the Polonnaruwa kingdom and its rediscovery in the 19th century. It is the best preserved of the island’s unrestored dagobas. The Ancient Temple developed during Polonnaruwa period. 1lth – 13 Cen. CE
Demala Maha Seya – Polonnaruwa
Abandoned before completion, this large mound is what remains of Parakramabahu’s grandiose bid to build the largest dagoba in the Buddhist world. He died before the work was completed.
Gal Viharaya –Polonnaruwa
A rock-hewn shrine. Carved on the face of the rock are 3 colossal figures of the Buddha. There is a recumbent Buddha 44 feet in length. Most prominent is the standing image, 7m (23ft) tall, which was at one time thought to represent Ananda, the Buddha’s first disciple, but is now regarded as being a Buddha image like the others.The Ancient Temple developed during Polonnaruwa period. 1lth – 13 Cen. CE .