The sprawling city Anuradhapura, once capital of Sinhalese Kingdom, displays a rich collection of archaeological and architectural marvels with huge dagobas, ancient pools and beautiful temples built during Anuradhapura’s thousand years of rule over Sri Lanka.
This destination was one of the must places in my travel list. Having visited the ruins at Polonnaruwa the previous day which are better preserved and offer a more digestible and satisfying bite of ancient Sinhalese culture, I decided to have a ruin free day and just visit architectural attractions of the city.
I had my train back to Colombo in the evening. With no lockers or luggage rooms in the station, I asked the station master if he could keep my luggage in his office for some time, he was generous enough to accept my request. This is one of the things I highly appreciate about people of Sri Lanka, they very friendly and helpful.
I wandered around the city all on foot. The journey on foot is entirely a different experience. It offers a choice to explore and feel the enjoyment of experience of moving from one point to another, unlike other common forms of travel that offer only pleasure coming from one point and going to another.
Sri Maha Bodhi Temple
The temple is known for Sri Maha Bodhi tree, the oldest living tree in world in the recorded history. The tree grew out of a branch obtained from the main stem of the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
There are special guards who look after the Bodhi Tree. Today, thousands of devotees come to make offerings to the tree, chant for hours sitting in front of the tree.
From Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, I headed to Mirisawetiya Dagaba. The pleasure of lone silent walks around the Sri Maha Bodhi Temple and the Stunning stupas was an astonishing experience.
Mirisawetiya is one of the most ancient Dagabas in Sri Lanka. It was built by the great King Dutugemunu who reigned during the time (161-137 BC) and united Sri Lanka under a single flag. Several Kings, at different intervals made renovations to the Dagaba.
In Sinhala, ‘Mirisaweitiya’ comes from ‘Miris-Wetiya’, which means a pod of Chilli.
It is a custom among Buddhists whenever food is partaken, some of it is symbolically offered to the holy monks.
It is rumored that the King once forgot to offer a pod of chilli to the Monks before eating. As a token of apology, it is said that the King named the Dagaba Mirisawetiya.
Abhayagiri means ‘Hill of Protection’ or ‘Fearless Hill’. It is believed that a statue of a golden bull containing relics of the Buddha was buried in the core of the stupa.
it is believed to have a height of around 115m tall, only slightly smaller than Jetavana Dagoba, making it the fourth tallest in the ancient world after Khufu & Khafre at Giza, Egypt & Jetavana Dagoba.
I found myself awestruck when I departed the sacred city just after sunset because of its otherworldly aesthetics which was largely lost on me.