The Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura stands as the sole remaining descendant of the original Sri Maha Bodhi tree in India. The historical moment took place on a December Full Moon Day in 249 BCE when Theri Sangamitta arrived at the port of Dambakolapatuna in Jaffna. She brought with her a sapling from the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree in India. King Devanampiyatissa, upon receiving this precious gift at the port, led a grand procession to Anuradhapura, where the sapling was ceremoniously planted. Today, it continues to thrive as a symbol of deep reverence and historical significance.
According to historic Mahavamsa and Sinhala Bodhivamsa, eight saplings grew out of the Sri Maha Bodhi and King Devanampiyatissa plated these at the following places.
- At the landing place Jambukola on the spot where the great Bodhi-Tree had stood after leaving the ship – There is no definite identification of the site. However, based on history, this tree is believed to be the Bo tree at Murugan Kovil situated in Paralai village which is called Sanghamitta Bodhi.
- In the village of the Brahman Tivakka : Today there is no village called Tivakka Bamunugama. Nevertheless, some identify this site as Tantirimale. However, Sinhala Bodhiwamsa identifies Tantirimale as a location for the Dethis Maha Bodhi (32 Bodhis). Therefore Tantirimale has not been confirmed on the basis of specific archaeological and historical factors, so it is only limited to folklore.
- In Thuparama : A recent Excavation of the Thuparamaya had exposed an ancient Bodhighara which is believed to be the exact location where this Bodhi Tree stood.
- At Issarasamanaramaya : Sinhala Bodhivamsa identifies this name as Kasungiri Vehera. However, this is the ancient Isurumuniya which is now known as Vessagiriya in Anuradhapura.
- In the Court of the First Stupa : Sinhala Bodhivamsa identifies this name as Prathamaka Chethiya. Location not identified.
- In the arama of the Cetiya-mountain : Sinhala Bodhivamsa identifies this name as Segiri. This site is identified as Mihinthale
- Kajaragama : Sinhala Bodhivamsa identifies this name as Kadaragama. Today known as Kataragama
- Candangama : Sinhala Bodhivamsa identifies this name as Sandungama. Location not identified.
Also See Dethis Pala Maha Bodhi for the next set of saplings of the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura.
- Mahanama, Geiger, W.H. and Bode, M. (1912) The Mahavamsa: Or The Great Chronicle of Ceylon. London: H. Frowde for the Pali Text Society.
- Wilgammula Thero, S.P. (1970) සිංහල බෝධිවංශය. Colombo: Lake House.