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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Religious Places to Visit in Anuradhapura - Visit the Atamasthana in Anuradhapura for an Insight into Local Religious Pr
Joanna James Joanna James
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Religious Places to Visit in Anuradhapura - Visit the Atamasthana in Anuradhapura for an Insight into Local Religious Pr

Visit the places in Anuradhapura, also known as Atamasthana, visited by the Buddha during his three visits to Sri Lanka.



The Ruwanwelisaya stupa in Anuradhapura is a must visit religious attraction when exploring the city. Built by King Dutugemunu during the 140 B.C, the stupa is known by a multitude of names such as Rathnamli Dagoba, Swarnamali Chaitya and the Mahathupa. King Dutugemunu became the King of the island after he defeated King Elara, a Chola King, and consequently built the stupa. Considered to be one of the tallest monuments in the world, the Ruwanwelisaya stands at a height of over one hundred meters. It is also one of the Atamasthana as well as the Solosmasthana i.e. one of the sixteen places of veneration. In order to access Ruwanwelisaya, and consequently the Sri Maha Bodhiya, one will have to walk and leave their rental cars in the carpark. Those who opt for renting a car from places such as Casons Rent a Car, will be able to take advantage of their chauffeur facilities and not worry about the safety of the vehicle.


Mirisawetiya Stupa

The Mirisawetiya Stupa was also bult by King Dutugemunu following his defeat of King Elara. The legend is that King Dutugemunu placed Buddha relics with his sceptre and went to bathe. When he returned, he discovered that the sceptre could not be moved. Therefore, he built the Miriswatiya Dagoba where the sceptre was placed. The Stupa was renovated by several succeeding kings such as King Kasyapa the First and King Kasyapa the Fifth.


Sri Maha Bodhiya

An Anuradhapura tour is incomplete without a visit to the Sri Maha Bodhiya. The Sri Maha Bodhiya refers to a giant Bo Tree located close to the Runwanwelisaya and which is venerated by Buddhists across the island. The Bo Tree is one of the saplings of the Bo Tree in India which sheltered the Buddha during his search of the path to enlightenment. The Sri Maha Bodhiya was attacked by the LTTE during the protracted civil war.



Those who walk from Ruwanwelisaya to the Sri Maha Bodhiya will chance upon Lovamahapaya. Also known as the Brazen Palace, Lovamahapaya has a roof that is covered with bronze tiles. Lovamahapaya was built by King Dutugemunu, the same King who was responsible for the construction of Ruwanwelisaya and Mirisawatiya. While it is believed that Lovamahapaya took nearly six years to be completed, it is also recorded in history that the building was entirely destroyed during the reign of King Saddhatissa. Lovamahapaya is believed to have been a nine story structure complete with a refectory, a Uposatha house and a Simamalakaya which was where the Sangha came together to recite sutras on Poya days.



The Thuparamaya stupa has the distinction of being the very first dagoba built in Sri Lanka. The stupa was constructed following the introduction of Theravada Buddhism by Mahinda Thera who was sent to Sri Lanka to do so by King Asoka of India. At the request of Mahinda Thera, the stupa was built by King Devanampiyatissa. Those who visit this site, however, will not be able to see the original Thuparamaya for the stupa was destroyed several times throughout history. The present structure was built by King Agbo II who built it in 1862 AD.

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