Padalanchana Chethiya of Ancient Anuradhapura (අනුරාධපුර පාදලාඤ්ජන චේතිය)

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Fifty meters to the southeast of Thuparama Dagoba lies a small stupa identified as the Padalanchana Chethiya. This is also referred to as Sila Chethiya and Digha Stupa and was originally built by King Lagnatissa (119-109 BC), son of King Saddhatissa covering a footprint of Buddha.

According to Mahavamsa, this place has been one of the four places where all the Buddhas of this aeon have left their footprints. Thus all four Kakusanndha, Konagamana, Kassapa and Gouthama Buddhas have at one time come to this small island and come to this place before leaving this island left their footprints at this location.

Pali Mahabodhiwanmsa gives an account of four Buddhas of this kalpa the ion who had visited this island and hollowed four spots spending few moments in meditation. The account of the visit of Kakusandha, the first Buddha of this kalpa, ends with the statement that the Teacher, after hallowing the site of the future Thuparama, and after preaching the dhamma, proceeded to the terrace named Ratanamalaka, rose into the air from that site, and returned to Jambudipa. The Sinhalese gloss explains Ratanamalaka, not only by giving the Sinhalese equivalent of the name, Ruvanmaluyehi, but also with the comments: He dan satara-Budun pada-lasa padum-dese maha-Sa-thanhi ‘ that is at present the site of the main chethiya (stupa) in the shrine of the Footprints (padalasa) of the four Buddhas.’

Konagamana, the second Buddha of this kalpa, is said to have hallowed the same spots as did his predecessor. He likewise terminated his tour of Anuradhapura at the future Thuparama and rose into the air for the return journey from Sudassanamalaka to the east of the last mentioned place. For Sudassan-amalaka , the Mahabodhiwanmsa has the following gloss: Sudasun-maluyehi he-dan Padalasa padum-desen devana maha-sa-tan, ‘at the Sudasunmalu, that is at present the site of the great cetiya which is the second from the east at Padalasa.’

The corresponding account of the visit of the Buddha Kassapa ends with the statement that the Teacher rose to the air for the return journey from the Somanassa-Malaka, which, too, was to the east of the site of the future Thuparama, The gloss in the Mahabodhiwanmsa for Somanassa-malake is Somans-maluyehi : he dan Padalasa padum-densen piidum-desen tun-vane mahasa-tan, at the Somnas-malu, that is at present the site of the great cetiya, which is the third from the east at Padalasa.’ The historic Buddha, during the last of the three visits he is believed to have paid to Ceylon, rose to the air for the return journey after spending a few moments on the site cf the future Sila-cetiya. The gloss of the Mahabodhiwanmsa on the word Sila-cetiyatthane of the Mahabodhiwanmsa is Sala-sa-tanhi du, he Padalasa satara-vana kuda dagaba ya , ‘ also at the site of Sala-sa ; that is (at present) the small forth dagaba at the Padalasa.’

Thus three of the four Footprints to the cast of the Thupararna were left by the three previous Buddhas rising to the air from that spot. According to Paranavithana, the Culavamsa states that, at the Padalanchana, where a shrine or shrines were restored by King Mahinda IV (956-972), there were four chetiyas. It is therefore reasonable to take the Padalanchana referred to at Culavamsa, LIV, v. 44, as identical to the Padalasa of the Mahabodhiwanmsa. Three of the cetiyas at this Padalasa (Padalanchana) were believed, at the time the Mahabodhiwanmsa was written, to mark three legendary sites which arc definitely stated in the Mahabodhiwanmsa as well as in the Mahavamsa, to have been to the east of the Thuparama. The Padalanchana referred to in the Culavamsa, LIV, 44, was thus situated to the east of the Thuparama which the current stupa called Padalanchana Stupa today.

Until the late 19th century, British archaeologists believed these ruins to be the Sanghamitta Stupa, the stupa built enshrining the ashes of Samghamitta Theri, the sister of Mahinda Thero as Mahavamsa describes the location east of Thuparama in sight of the great Bodhi tree on the ground that Theri has selected herself. However, this confusion has now been resolved and the Sanghamitta Stupa has been identified as lying about 130 meters east of the stupa.

The restored stupa is built on a circular platform. A flight of steps decorated with moonstones, Guard stones and balustrades takes you to this platform. Sadly not much attention is given by the visitors to this stupa.

Plan of Thuparamaya Ruins of Anuradhapura
Plan of Thuparamaya Ruins of Anuradhapura
source : Architectural Remains, Anurádhapura, Ceylon; comprising the dágabas and certain other ancient ruined structures. Measured, drawn and described by J.G. Smither published in 1894


  1. Paranavitana, S., 1958. Padalanchana at Anuradhapura. University of Ceylon Review, vol. XVI(No. 1 & 2), pp.56-61.
  2. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka.
  3. Smither, J. and Wikramagamage, C., 1993. Architectural Remains, Anurádhapura, Ceylon; comprising the dágabas and certain other ancient ruined structures. Measured, drawn and described by J.G. Smither. 2nd ed. (revised) Colombo: Academy of Sri Lankan Culture, pp.1-18.

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Map of Padalanchana Chethiya

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Driving Directions to Anuradhapura (Padalanchana Chethiya )

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Bus

Anuradhapura is easily reached by bus, train or private transport. Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses start at the Colombo Fort Main Bus Station. There are luxury busses which start from various places in Colomb travelling past Anuradhapura, to Vavuniya and Jaffna. However, you need to search the web and book a seat. These luxury buses mostly travel at night reaching their final destination early in the morning.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Train

5 daily trains are starting from Fort Railway Station to Anuradhapura. Generally, the first train leaves at 9.40 am and the last train at 8.30 pm. Travel time is 4-5 hours depending on the number of stops of the particular train.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Car or Van

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. There are two main routes to Anuradhapura from Kurunegala. 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
Route from Anuradhapura Railway Station to Padalanchana Chethiya
Distance : 2.7  kilometers
Travel time : 5 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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