Abayagiriya Stupa at Anuradhapura – අභයගිරි ස්තුපය

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Abhayagiriya Stupa under restoration in 1994
Abhayagiriya Stupa under restoration in 1994

Abhayagiri stupa belongs to the aramic complex of Abhayagiriya Viharaya which was constructed in the reign of King Vattagamini Abaya (commonly known as King Valagamba) in the 1st Century BC.

Today, the main attraction of this aramaic complex  is the massive Abayagiri Stupa which stands at 74.98 meters to the tip of the damaged spire. It is the second largest stupa in the island today. According to the 5th century traveler Chinese monk Fa-Hsien’s descriptions, this stupa has been 400 feet (122 meters) in height and has been decorated with gold and silver and studded with all kinds of jewels. There also has been a 20 foot (6.1 meters) high Buddha statue made out of green jade.

This monument is carries a special importance in ancient Sri Lankan Stupas as the top portions of the original stupa (known the “hatharas kotuwa”) still survives after thousand years of negligence, giving a glimpse to what it would have looked like thousand years ago.

Today there is a massive effort by the archeological department to restore this stupa to its original glory without destroying the archeological value. The work has been painstakingly slow due to the lack of funds. As you can see in the pictures, the stupa is still covered by grass and trees grown on it which more like a mound of earth.

The story of the birth of this aramic complex is very interesting. According to the chronicles, soon after the king Vattagamini Abaya ascended to the throne in 104 BC, a Tamil invasion took place.

The new king unable to withstand the attack, was retreating from the capital. At this time a Jain monk was residing in the area which Abhayagiri stands today. When the king was passing this area the Jain monk named “Geri” shouted insultingly “Lo the great black Sinhala king is in flight”.

The king ignored this comment but when he came back to Anuradhapura after 14 years after defeating the the invaders, he has not forgotten this incident. The king razed this hermitage to the ground and built a massive stupa and 12 buildings and offered it to Mahathissa Thero. The stupa was named by coining the two rivals names “Abaya” (The king’s name) and “Geri” (The Jain monk) – The “Abayagiri” Later, this vihara became a rival to Mahavihara. Mahaviharians were followers of pure “Theravada Buddhism” and the priests at the Abayagiri were open to more ideas and followed principles of both Theravada and Mahayana teachings.

Also See

Map of Abayagiri Stupa

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් - Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map -

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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Driving Directions to 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

Through : 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

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

Photos before restoration from www.imagesofceylon.com

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