Sri Maha Bodhi (The sacred Bo-Tree) – ශ්‍රී මහා බෝධිය

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Entrance to the Bo Tree Enclosure as in 1896 from The ruined cities of Ceylon by Henry W. Cave

Entrance to the Bo Tree Enclosure as in 1896 from The ruined cities of Ceylon by Henry W. Cave

After bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda Thero in 250 BC Emperor Asoka in India sent his daughter Theri Sanghamitta to the island with a branch of the Sacred Bodhi obtained from the main stem of the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya under which Buddha attained enlightenment. King Tissa received the sapling and planted it at the present site in 249 BC. Taking this information to account today (in 2013) the Sri Maha Bodhi tree is exactly 2263 years old. Thus this tree is  considered the oldest living tree in world in the recorded history.

Even after the Anuradhapura was deserted as the capital of the country and encroached by the jungle, pious people nevertheless tendered to the tree effortlessly. The villagers lit bonfires to frighten off wild elephants. As the time went on the villagers made it a habit to collect firewood for the whole year on one single day. This possession was called “Daramiti Perahara” (Firewood Possession) which continues up to this day.

There are special guards who look after the Bodhi Tree. This again is an age old custom continued to date by people who live in the neighbourhood whose ancestors have received the land for their services. This may be probably one of the oldest surviving religious professions in the world.

The bodhi tree was subjected to a vandalised act by a madman who tried to cut off the tree in 1929. He did manage to cut off a branch of the tree. Then again in 1985 this holy ground faced a ruthless attack by the Tamil terrorists (LTTE) who stormed in to premises brutally gunning down 229 innocent civilians including 17monks, 21 nuns, 52 children, 41 women and 98 men while 385 got wounded.

Today you can see this 2260+ year old tree which is helped by few metal towers and accompanied by 41 “parivara” (companion) trees.

Photos before restoration from www.imagesofceylon.com

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Photos from late 1800′s or early 1900′s

Also See

Map of Sri Maha Bodhi

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.

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Driving Directions to Sri Maha Bodhi (Anuradhapura)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttlam (Puttalama) and though Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttlam you will pass scenic Wilpattu area. the From Kurunegala there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is though Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the commonly used is the Kurunegala – Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Route 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Though : Negombo - Chillaw - Puthlam
distance from colombo :213 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Dambulla
distance from Colombo : 221 km
Travel time : 3.15 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps

Route 03 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Route from Kandy to Anuradhapura

Though : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Padeniya - Thambuthegama
distance from colombo :213 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Katugastota - Matale - Dambulla
distance from Colombo :139 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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