Ruins of Mahavihara Refractory Hall of Anuradhapura Kingdom (අනුරාධපුර මහා විහාරීය දාන ශාලාව)

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Refractory Hall (also called Alms Hall or Chatussala) of the Maha Vihara of the ancient Anuradhapura kingdom lies north of Lovamahapaya and southeast of Ruwalisseya Stupa. This site lies off the common path between Ruwanweliseya and Sri Mahabodhi and is rarely visited by pilgrims.

Most pilgrims even do not know its existence among the ruined buildings with stone pillars scattered all over this area. However, this site is worth the visit with its gigantic stone trouts which would have had rice, vegetables and porridge filled during the meal times. The travelling Chinese monk Fa Hsien reported that more than 10,000 monks and nuns resided in the Anuradhapura area. The 3000 monks of the Mahavihara. accommodated 3000 monks and the Abhayagiri Viharaya accommodated 5,000 resident monks in the 5th century. Just imagine thousands of monks patiently walking from their kuti for the afternoon meal towards this granite structure with food enough to feed at least 3000.

The Refractory Hall (Alms Hall or Chatussala) was built by King Devanampiya Tissa in the 3rd century BCE. This was restored by Vasabha in the 3rd century CE. This building corresponds with the Alms Hall found at Mihintale for it has the same architectural design found here. At the eastern corner is found the largest stone trout called “rice boat” 45 feet long that provided alms to the monks. Two more smaller stone trouts are also seen probably used for vegetables and porridge.

This is a square building, which is 131 feet is length on each side. The centre is paved in stone as in other Alms Halls found in Abhayagiriya and Mihintale. There are steps from the face sides to enter the courtyard in the middle.

References

  1. Seneviratna, A., (1994). Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka.
  2. Wikramagamage, C., (2004). Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Also See

Mahavihara Refractory Hall (Alms Hall or Chatussala) of Anuradhapura Map

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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 Mahavihara Refractory Hall (Anuradhapura)

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

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map

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