History is sometimes felt a subject with more imagination than facts, solely because facts seem extraordinary in some cases. The first destination of this journey is a tree, having the oldest written records, running back through a time of two millenniums. Around 288 BCE tree was brought to Sri Lanka, in hands of Arhath Sanghamiththa, the daughter of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Buddhist believe that it is the right-wing branch of the exact tree, where Buddha fond shade at his enlightenment. This living monument of worship at the heart of the sacred city shall offer you a wonderful unity among nature, culture and spirituality.
In a modest but magnificent image of a hemisphere in dazzling white, the sthupa stands 103 meters tall as the most sacred Buddhist place of worship. In fact it is said that sthupa holds a bowl of Lord Buddha's Bone Relic enshrined in, even Gods arrive to pay homage, according to chronicles and folklore.
Further, it is still in its original extent and glory that has not been made larger in dimensions after the original building. Being unique and exceptional among ancient civilizations of the world Sri Lanka's still living heritage can be witnessed here itself, where people as still conducting traditions as they did more than two thousand years ago.
At this halt of our journey, you will be there at the base of world's tallest mud brick structure. As a colossal construction of the first millennium Jethawanarama stupa stands 122 meters high and has returned to its former glory and glamorous antiquity empowered by recent renovations. It was built by king Mahasen 273 – 301 BCE and is said to enshrine the sash or belt relic used by Lord Buddha. Engineering feats of Ancient Sinhalese are revealed here to the whole world of twenty first century.
In time that Sri Lanka was a centre of knowledge in the Eastern world, specially in Theravada Buddhism the monastery complex of Abhayagiriya was a university open to the known world with different branches of Buddhism taught. Being built before the Christian Era, by king Walagamba who was the patron of the writing down Lord Buddha’s words for the first time in the history, this enormous monument of faith holds whole of holy book thripitaka inside said to be written on gold plates.
Among the buildings of Abhayagiri monastery complex, which sustained numerous structures for the residence of 5000 scholar monks and their needs, Kuttam Pokuna has acquired a unique identity. Whilst being popular as twin pond among visitors the set consists of two joined ponds as the Northern pond is 28 meters long while the other one is 40 meters. This artistic antique structure of sanitation had underground terracotta pipeline for water supply ,which ending at an water inlets to ponds beautifully sculptured to a shape of a dragon’s head.
In time of Kings, we had a tradition, that to hold power, the monarchy had to hold the possession of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Starting that specific tradition isurumuniya is the temple where tooth relic was shrined for the first time in the Island as it was bought to the capital Anuradhapura between 301 – 328 AD during the reign of king Keerthi Sri Megha of Anuradhapura. Isurumuniya is famous for numerous ancient artifacts, depicting the art of sculpture here. Starting from carving known as 'Isurumuni Lovers', the are many to see such as the carvings of ‘Elephants bathing’ arising from water level along a rock to a carving of ‘Man and the head of the horse’. Situated by a side of Thisa wawa, the reservoir this will be an experience of scenic beauty blended with man-made arts.
First kingdoms of this country, were established, by the river valleys, originally in the dry zone. In fact to sustain a civilization based on paddy cultivation with mere rainfall is an task near impossible. As an exception to the whole world ancient Sri Lankans created an ingenious way to overcome the issue by trapping monsoons! Dry zone of Sri Lanka is home thousands of Tanks(reservoirs) built by crossing the waterways by dams of soil on rock foundations. ‘Valve pit’ is a ancient Sri Lankan invention known as Bisokotuwa on native tongue, which regulates the water pressure as water is flowed through the sluice, avoiding the damage that can happen to the dam, for cannals directing to paddy fields.
For a visitor, reservoirs in ancient city will seem not only as an engineering task but also as a man made structure evolved to a unique ecosystem with a perfect harmony with biosphere, embedded in ecological balance and leaving room for number of food chains, since the harmony with the nature was a part of our culture.
‘Yodha Ela’ or the giant canal is a magnificent creation designed to create a lamina flow of while keeping a firm regulation of rate of flow, in very long distance irrigation works. The way that the slope was carved, with a high precision as one inch of slope for a distance of mile(approximately) is considered a wonderful achievement even today.