Moonstone at Pancavasa : Biso Maligawa (බිසෝ මාලිගය – සඳකඩ පහන)

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This Pancavasa located in the Abayagiri Monastery in Anuradhapura, now commonly known as Biso Maligaya or the queen’s palace for no apparent reason is most famous for the moonstone found in the main flight of stairs on the center building. This moonstone is considered one of the best and most well-preserved moonstones in this era. This moonstone is believed to belong to the 7th and 8th Centuries.

A second moonstone with equal artistic quality can be found at an entrance to a building behind the Ratnaprasada.

The outer edge is designed with a ring of flames and below that is a ring filled with 4 types of animals – The elephant, the horse, the lion, and the bull. The next is a circle of a floral pattern (“liyawela”). Next is a line of swans with a twig of flowers and a leaf on their mouth. Next is again a floral pattern and at the center is a lotus with petals all around the semi-circle on the moonstone

The meanings of this combination of patterns are debated widely. One interpretation is that the out ring of fire represents the never-ending life and the pains associated with it. The four animals represent the four noble truths (“Chathurarya Sathya”) of Buddha. It is said that the swan can separate out milk from a mixture of water and milk. Therefore once a person realizes the four noble truths they can have the true understanding of good and bad. They are capable of filtering out the good just like the swan filters out milk. Once you do that you are capable of attaining the“Nibbana” represented by the lotus.

Another interesting fact is that the bull in the moonstones was apparently dropped in the Polonnaruwa era (see Vatadage in Polonnaruwa). Moonstones in this era lack this symbol and sometimes the bull can be found on a higher pedestal on the sides of an entrance. This is thought to be the influence of Hindus. The bull is a sacred animal to the Hindus and trampling this symbol was probably disrespectful.

References

  1. Senevirathne, A. (1994) Ancient Anuradhapura: The Monastic City. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department.

Also See

Map of Moonstone at Pancavasa (Biso Maligawa)

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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 Anuradhapura Moonstone at Pancavasa (Biso Maligawa)

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

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