Abhayagiri Monastery Complex, Anuradhapura Overview

The Abhayagiri Vihara is one of the most beautiful and exciting structures which is in the atmospheric setting of Anuradhapura. The grand scale of the monastery ruins is genuinely breathtaking and can be viewed at any time, be it the break of dawn or dusk. The Abhayagiri Vihara has a beautiful and shimmering glow.

Abhayagiri Vihara is not just a beautiful stupa but is also the place where a fraternity of Buddhist monks who maintain their records, traditions and way of life. The Abhayagiri Monastery was established in the 2nd Century BCE by King Valagamabau in the celebration of his victory against the Indian Chola invaders. The main stupa was constructed over the footprint of Gautama Buddha, making it the second-largest stupa on the island. Also, check out the Twin Pond near the Abhayagiri Monastery, which is one of the great architectural marvels in Anuradhapura.

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Things To Do At Abhayagiri Vihara

1. Moonstone:
The Moonstone, which is a semi-circle carving on the stairway, is one of the most preserved treasures dating back to the 7th-8th Century CE. The Moonstone has an exciting design of a ring of flames in the outer edge, with four different animals along the circumference.

2. Guard stone (Rathna Prasada):
The Rathna Prasada is a building which is an example of splendid grandeur housing a golden statue of Buddha. This building was first built by king Kanitthatissa in the 2nd Century and was rebuilt in the 8th Century by King Mahinda II. Another great highlight among the ruins of the Abhayagiri Monastery is the exquisitely carved stone which portrays a god-king protected by a five-headed cobra (Naga Gala) holding a vase with flowers reflecting prosperity.

3. Abhiyagiri Stupa:
The main stupa, which is the Abhiyagiri Stupa, stands at the height of almost 370 feet today, which was constructed on the footprint of Gautama Buddha. The stupa was not just a centre of meditation but also a place of learning for the monks. Further, many renovations and reconstructions have taken place at the stupa from time to time.

4. Museum:
The museum at the Abhiyagiri Monastery is made in the memory of the famous Chinese traveller Fa Hein and houses the various treasures discovered during the excavations at Abhiyagiri Monastery. Some of the items include; gold and gem studded ornaments and jewellery; coins belonging to pre-Christian era; metal objects; molds and crucibles used in their manufacture; ceramics; pottery; glass; tiles; sculptures, etc.

5. Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds):
The Twin Ponds located in the Abhayagiri Monastery is a unique architectural marvel in the city of Anuradhapura, which was believed to have been constructed in the 6th Century for the use of the residential monks. The pond at the northern end measures 91 feet long whereas the second one is 132 feet long. These water bodies act as testimonies of the advancement in the Sri Lankan irrigation system.

6. Eth Pokuna (Elephant Pond):
Eth-Pokuna was built in the ancient era of Sri Lanka as the most massive human-made pond. The monks used the water from here for their daily cleansing.

How To Reach Abhayagiri Vihara

The Abhayagiri Vihara is in the beautiful heritage city of Anuradhapura, and you can access it by hiring a private taxi or a tuk-tuk.

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