Sri Lankan Buddhist place particular emphasis on the sanctity from the relics of the Buddha which are clieved to possess veen brought ot the island.
Sri Lanka Buddhism in the most widespread religion from the majority Sinhalese community. Although India was the initial home of Buddhism, today it’s practised largely on the margins from the sub-continent, and is widely followed in Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan in addition to Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Buddhist place particular emphasis on the sanctity from the relics of the Buddha which are clieved to possess veen brought ot the island. The two most important would be the sacred Bo tree and the tooth from the Buddha.
1. The Sri Maha Bodhiya (Bo tree)
The Sri Maha Bo tree at Anuradhapura is considered to be a cutting from the Bo tree to which the Buddha himself attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in present day Bihar. The Emperor Asoka is recorded as having entrsuted the cutting to Mahinda’s sister Sanghamitta to become carried to Sri Lanka on their mission of taking Buddhism towards the island. As the original Bo tree in Bodh Gaya was reduce, this is the only tree around the world believed to come from the original tree under which the Buddha sat, and it is visited by Buddhists from all over the planet. Many other Bo trees in Sri Lanka happen to be grown from cuttings from the Anuradhapura Bo tree.
2. The Tooth of Buddha
Your tooth of the Buddha, now enshrined at the Dalada maligawa in Kandy, wasn’t brought to Sri Lanka until the fourth century AS. The Portuguese reported that they captured and destryed the original tooth within their attempt to wipe out all proof of other religious faiths, however the Singhalese claimed to have hidden it and allowed a duplicate to have been stolen. Today pilgrims flock throughout the island, queuing for days on special events when special access is granted towards the casket holding the tooth within the Dalada Maligawa.
3. Dambulla Rock Cave
Dambulla is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. This fascinating website is gracefully blended on a gigantic granite outcrop which towers a lot more than 160m above the surrounding land. The rock is much more than 1.5km around its base and also the summit is at 550m. The caves were the refuge of King Valagambahu (Vattagamini Abhaya) as he was in exile for 14 years. As he returned to the throne at Anuradhapura within the first century BC, he’d a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla. They have been repaired and repainted many times in the 11th, 12th and 1700s. In 2001, the temple authorities completed focus on an enormous gold Buddha, saif to be the biggest in the world, which greets you against the car park.
The caves possess a mixture of religious and secular painting and sculpture. There are many reclining Buddhas, including the 15meter long sculpture from the dying Buddha in cave 1. The frescoes show scenes in the Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history. Cave 2 may be the largest and most impressive, containing a lot more than 150 statues, illustrating the Mahayana influences on Buddhism at that time time through introducing Hindu deities for example Vishnu and Ganesh.
4. Aukana Buddha
One of the island’s most elegant and excellent statues, the Aukana Buddha, to the west from the large Kala Wewa resavoir, has gained increased significance to Buddhists since the destruction from the similar (but much larger) statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan (toponymical studies suggest that in ancient times Bamiyan, in the area where Mahayana Buddhism originated, was referred to as Vokkana or Avakana). Here is a magnificent, undamaged 12 mter tall free-standing statue of the Abhayamudra Buddha, showing superhuman qualities, carved from a single rock. The Buddha’s right-hand is raised towards the right shoulder using the palm spread, signifying deficiencies in fear, while the position from the left draws the worshipper to Buddha for release from earthly bonds.
It’s been ascribed to King Dhatusena (AD 459-477) who had been responsible for the building of several tanmks, such as the one here. When you walk right down to the base, not the small lotus flower among the Buddha’s feet. The carving is really perfectly symmetrical that when it rains water drops from Buddha’s nose right down to the centre of the 10 cm lotus flower below.
5. Siripada – Adams Peak Muontain
Sacred to devotees of three of Sri Lanka’s major religions, Adam’s Peak is among the island’s most important pilgrimage sites. The giant ‘footprint’ around the summit is believed to be an imprint left by either the Buddha (hence ‘Sri Pada’, or ‘Sacred Footprint’) or Siva (Sivan Adipadham) by Hindus, or Adam by Muslims. No matter belief, the perfectly conical shaped mountain may be worth the climb, both for the excitement and for the magnificent views, specially in the first rays of dawn.
At the very top, there are some breathtaking views over the surrounding hills, though the peak itself, only 50m sq, isn’t particularly impressive. Steps run up to the sacred footprint, along with a 4 meter rock, that is covered by a huge stone slab by which has been carved another print. Pilgrims cluster round, throwing offerings to the 1 meter hollow, before moving towards the Saman shrine up another flight of stairs where thanks are give. Pilgrims then rong among the two bells at the summit, each chime representing an effective ascent. There are three official processions each day (during the season) – at dawn, midday and dusk – with music, offerings and prayers.