Sri Lanka 2022

Sri Lanka Day 12 – Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world and understandably a World Heritage site – one of 8 in Sri Lanka. It was the capital of the ancient country for a thousand years before and after Christ.

Excavations have yielded copper kilns from 900 BC, and it was the centre of a fertile “rice bowl”, supported by a vast network of reservoirs and irrigation canals. It is still a major city today and is the capital of the North Central Province.

We focused on the ancient buildings – a vast site, one could spend days exploring. We went straight to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree, a sacred ficus religiosa bo tree in the Mahamewna Gardens. It has grown from the southern branch from the historical Sri Maha Bodhi in India under which Buddha attained enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BC and is the oldest living human planted tree in the world with a known planting date.

From there to the Mahathupa or Ruwanweli Maha Seya, a stupa which is just over 100 metres high and dating from 140BC – containing several relics of Buddha it is an important shrine or monument in this ancient setting and hugely impressive.

Then another building I will have to find out the name of, which used to house 5000 monks and has an enormous rice trough to prove it.

Following that the Abhayagiri Stupa, which remains the third highest building from the ancient world after the two pyramids in Giza, but built in brick it is the largest brick built building in the ancient world.

Lots of roosters were outside this impressive stupa, said to contain a footprint of Buddha. We didn’t go in, and instead a chicken pecked lazily at Evianire’s shoe laces.

We went to a statue of Buddha – one of the earliest, with a nose job but otherwise suitably serene.

Then baths – quite big ones, with resident monkeys. Then another stupa, by this time we were stupa-efied. More buddhas – reclining and meditating and by this time it was time for lunch back at the hotel.

It was an amazing site and we loved it – I will have to do some more reading up on the history. It was hot, very humid and my shirt was showing signs of distress.

Lunch was a rice and curry – what else, and quite large too. We had a few hours to rest before we were off on the eight mile journey to Mihintale – believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. At least I was – Heather sensibly chose to stay behind knowing that the rocky climbing would not suit her.

1840 steps were truncated by us driving most of the way up – it was still very hot, leaving us perhaps a few hundred, and then we tackled the stone cut steps and precarious hand rails to get to the first view point.

Two more high spots followed, one featuring a buddha statue and the second an enormous stupa, which we gained brownie points from by carrying up a small bag of stones for the reconstruction going on at the top of another ancient 3rd century stupa. Matt took up a very big bag, being that much younger and fitter than me, but his did make mine look a little pathetic…..

The views were stunning and the obligatory stupa rising from the top of my head photo was followed soon after by the sunset and a detour on the way down to the water source for the site.

We got back to the hotel and showered and changed. We were due to go straight out but I requested a short break as I would have been very unpleasant to sit next to at the restaurant which was about 15 minutes drive away and was excellent with a buffet selection of – guess what – rice and curry.

We got back and our washing was done – bliss – we are going through clean washing at a huge pace in this steamy climate.

Back by 9.45 ish and we were soon asleep in a very comfortable room with the essential air conditioning then followed by a ceiling fan after lights off.

A very enjoyable day.

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