Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mihintale - Cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Mihintale, Visit Sri LankaMihintale, Visit Sri Lanka

"Oh! Great King, the birds of the air & the beasts have an equal right to live & move about in any part of this land as thou. The lands belongs to the peoples & all other beings & thou art only the guardian of it" - read the board near the parking lot.  This teaching was given by Mahinda to the king Devanampiyatissa. 

This is believed to be the place where Mahinda (son of Ashoka) met the Sri Lankan king Devanampiyatissa and later on went on to initiate him to Buddhism. A flight of 1840 steps take you to the top of the mountain where there are a number of important places. The steps make for a fairly easy climb.

Midway to the top, you can see remains of the kitchen area which was used to feed the monks that stayed here. There are 2 stones here which have the rules and regulations of the monastery engraved on them. English translation put up by the tourist department is very useful and makes for interesting reading.

Once you reach the top, you can visit the stupa and Aradhana Gala. As per Mahavamsa, Mahinda travelled to Sri Lanka through air and landed at Aradhana Gala. This is at the summit of the mountain. There are rock cut steps and iron railings to help you reach the top. It is very windy. The view, once you reach the top, is breathtaking.

Mihintale, Visit Sri Lanka
Stairs to the top

Mihintale, Visit Sri Lanka
View from the top

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Next stop on our tour was Anuradhapura. This was the first capital of Sri Lanka and has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. It remained the capital of Sri Lanka for a period of 13 centuries. It was abandoned for Pollonurawa, when in was destroyed in an invasion by the Chola king Rajaraja.

We stayed at the Palm Garden Village Resort. Have put up a review of the hotel here

Anuradhapura, Visit Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura has several shrines/stupas of historic importance A day can be easily spent to see these places.

Jetavanarama: Built in 2 century AD, this is considered the largest stupa in the world. It is believed that a part of the belt worn by Buddha is enshrined here. At the time of its construction it was the 3rd tallest structure in the world behind the pyramids of Egypt.

Maha Bodhi Tree: A branch of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitra, daughter of Emperor Ashoka.

Abhayagiri: When Indian princes attacked Anuradhapura, the King made a tactical retreat. When a Jain monk saw this, he passed derogatory remarks against the king. Upon this, the King vowed to build a Buddhist vihara in place of the Jain temple. The king lived in the mountains for 14 years and gathered an army. and attacked Anuradhapura. He defeated the Indian princes. One of his first acts on doing this was to demolish the Jain temple and build the Abhayagiri Vihara in its premises.

Ruwanwelisaya: Built in 2nd century BC, this is one of the tallest stupas in the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who became king of all Sri Lanka after defeating the Chola King Elara in war.

Thuparamaya: Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by Ashoka's son Mahindra. At his request, the King Devanampiyatissa built Thuparamaya which enshrines the collar bone of the Buddha. This is considered to be the first dagoba built in Sri Lanka.

Lovamahapaya: This was also known as the Bronze palace as it was covered with bronze tiles. This was a nine story building which acted a residence for the monks of Mahaviharaya Buddhist University.

Kuttam Pokuna [Twin Pools]: Ancient bathing tanks or pools. 

More photos below