Mayura Pirivena of Anuradhapura Kingdom (අනුරාධපුර මහා විහාරීය මයුර පිරිවෙණ)

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Mayura Pirivena in Anuradhapura is thought to be one of the primary learning centres belonging to the Maha Viharaya Aramic Complex during the Anuradhapura era. It is not quite certain whether this was a place of higher learning as the word indicates by its present meaning or if it was a place of residence for monks in ancient times.

According to the chronicle the Mayura Pirivena was built by King Buddhadasa (340-368 CE) who also donated villages to this establishment for its maintenance and appointed attendants. The original was replaced by Dhatusena (455-477 CE) with a building of lesser height. King Mahanaga (573-575 CE) affected some repairs to it.

The present building measures 66 feet by 45 feet. It has a few stone pillars with sculptured capitals, left from the old building. The entrance to the building is by a flight of steps with a moonstone with just half of a lotus depicted in the middle. No guard stones were found, and they may have been Jost. However, standing singly in an isolated spot it looks magnificent.

The present circuit bungalow of the Dept. of Archaeology which is in close proximity to the Mayura Pirivena is believed to be the site of the Granthakara Pirivena where Buddhaghosha Thera occupied himself with his commentaries while residing in it.

Buddhagosha Thero was an Indian Theravada Buddhist commentator and scholar in the 5th century. On finding a text for which the commentary on Tripitakaya had been lost in India, Buddhaghosa travelled to Sri Lanka to study a Sinhalese commentary that was preserved in Maha Viharaya Monastery in Anuradhapura.

In Sri Lanka, Buddhaghosa began to study what was apparently a very large volume of commentarial texts that had been assembled and preserved by the monks of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya.

The interpretations provided by Buddhaghosa have generally constituted the orthodox understanding of Theravada scriptures since at least the 12th century. He is generally recognized by both Western scholars and Theravadins as the most important commentator of the Theravada.

Buddhaghosa himself described the Mayura Pirivena as “beautifully appointed, agreeably endowed, with cool shade and with an ample water supply”.


  1. Seneviratna, A., (1994). Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka.
  2. Bell, H.C.P. (1914) Plans and Plates for the Annual Report, 1894 . Colombo , Sri Lanka: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon.

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Mayura Pirivena of Anuradhapura Map

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Driving Directions to 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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