Friday, December 31, 2010

Sri Lanka a Place to Visit

Sri Dalada Maligawa
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Without a doubt, the Sacred Tooth Relic (Dālada) of the Buddha is the most venerated object of worship for Buddhists. Its present house, the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Dālada Māligāwa) in Kandy, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is considered the foremost sacred place of worship in the Buddhist world. 

Kandy (Ancient Senkadagala) is the last capital of the Sinhala Monarchy the History of which goes back to at least five centuries before the beginning of the Common Era. The city is surrounded by a ring of mountain ranges and Sri Lanka’s largest river Mahaweli Ganga.Kandy enjoys a salubrious climate and still breathes the ancient lifestyle of the people.The heritage of Kandy, Architecture, Sculpture, painting, Dance and Music, all such cultural traditions are endemic to Sri Lanka.Kandy remains the home for all denominations of major world religions.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and there subdivisions. Buddhism plays a significant role in Kandy with the two main Monastic orders, Malwatte and Asgiriya fraternities together with numerous temples of the Country attached to them. 

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic constitutes the premier Buddhist Institution of Sri Lanka and remains the cynosure of the world Buddhist and is a great tourist attraction. The annual pageant (Esala Perahera) constitutes the greatest religious festival of Sri Lanka which attract thousands of pilgrims as well as tourists from all over the world. The web site on the Sri Dalada maligawa attempts to introduce all its aspects of history, rituals, cultural and other social activities.

Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi

"In Sri Lanka, there grows to this day, a tree, the oldest historical tree in the world which we know certainly to have been planted as a cutting from the Bodhi tree in the year 245 B.C." - H.G. Wells
The Sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is reckoned as the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahameghavana Park in Anuradhapura in 249 BC by King Devanampiyatissa. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.

The Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of the Sinhalese provides an elaborate account of the establishment of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in the island. Bodhi means wisdom that understands the four Noble Truths. Thus the tree which assisted Lord Buddha to achieve wisdom or enlightenment is called Bodhi.

Sri Maha Bodhi
The Most Respected Tree in the World

Poson season is the time of year when thousands of devotees make their annual pilgrimage to Mihintale to remember the day when Arahat Mahinda introduced the Buddha Dhamma to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. The King and his courtiers were deeply impressed with the new faith and embraced Buddhism followed by hundreds and thousands of men and women.
Consequently, the aspiration to obtain a Bo-sapling from the Great Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment, sprang up in the minds of those who embraced the new faith.
Thus the southern branch of the sacred Bo – tree at Buddha Gaya was brought over to Ceylon in 244 B.C by the nun Sanghamitta, the sister of Arahat Mahinda. This sacred Bodhi sapling was ceremonially planted in the Mahamegha Uyana, the royal park to the south of the city of Anuradhapura.
It is interesting to recall some of the early writings on this most sacred Bodhi sapling.
The transportation of this hallowed sapling from the port of Tamralipti, at the mouth of the Ganges to the point of landing at the port of Jambukola in northern Lanka is one full of detailed descriptions of important events.
According to the great chronicle Mahavamsa, the ship bringing the sacred sapling ventured forth into the sea. A yojana around the waves of the great ocean was stilled. Lotus flowers of the five colours blossomed all round and many musical instruments resounded in the air. Many offerings were also made by Devas and Nagas for six long days out in the sea. On the last day of the week the great Bodhi sapling arrived in Lanka at Jambukola Patuna.
King Devanampiyatissa on hearing from the Samanera Sumana of the arrival of the sacred sapling caused the whole of the high road from the northern gate of Anuradhapura to the port of Jambukola to be decorated awaiting its arrival. The king with his splendid retinue marched in a celebratory procession and arrived at Samuddapannasala ( the sea hut) in Jambukola on the same day to receive the Bodhi sapling.
The joyful king, seeing the coming of the great Bodhi sapling and though full of anxiety, walked even neck deep into the sea with nobles of sixteen families. Taking the sacred Bodhi sapling upon his head the sovereign of Lanka walked back on to the shore and placed it on a beautifully decorated pavilion. The king himself worshiped the Bodhi sapling by bestowing his kingdom and innumerable offerings were also made for many days and nights.
On the tenth day, the great Bodhi sapling was placed upon a magnificently decorated chariot and commenced the journey towards Anuradhapura. On the way, it was caused to be placed at various consecrated spots pointed out by the chief Thera Mahinda.
The eastern monastery and the village of Brahman Tivakka were the two important spots at which the great Bodhi sapling was highly honoured and worshipped during many days and nights.
On the fourteenth day the royal procession carrying the great Bodhi-sapling finally entered the Mahameghavanarama under the direction of Sumana and at the decorated spot where former Bodhi trees stood, the great Bodhi sapling was ceremonially planted under the constellation Rohini. The first eight Bodhi saplings that sprang at the moment from the great Bodhi tree were planted at eight sacred places in Anuradhapura, Jambukola, Chandanagama and in the village of Brahman Tivakka.
Today the Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura is the most sacred and venerated spot in Sri Lanka. Its importance is not restricted to the Buddhist world but also to the whole world who celebrate its fame as the oldest recorded tree in the world.

Pinnawal - Elephant Orphanage

Favorite stop for tour groups

Pinnawala is a village in Kegalle District of Sri Lanka and is around 90 km from the capital, Colombo. It is well known for its elephant orphanage.

The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died. Initially this orphanage was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo.

From the Dehiwala Zoo it was shifted 1975 to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus.It was hoped that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors, the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.

There are only a few elephant orphanages in the world. Pinnawela has now become one of the bigger orphanages and is quite well known world wide.

In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program launched in 1982. When the zoo took over there were twelve animals five of whom were babies. In time more baby elephants were added to the original herd of five. It was observed that though older females could be added it was not possible to add older males to the herd.

1997 there were 52 animals of which there 10 were babies under 3 years of age. There were five mahouts for the twelve elephants when the orphanage was taken over 1978 and now there are twenty mahouts. This number is inadequate to manage the increasing and growing number of elephants.


Mirissa Breathtaking Sandy Beach

Mirissa and its breathtaking sandy beach pretty much transforms your dreams and visions of a tropical paradise into an everyday reality.

Located close to the Southern tip of the Island of Sri Lanka and only about 200 km from the Equator, this secluded crescent shaped beach is the perfect place to sit back, relax and forget about all the hussle and bussle of your other life that’s a million miles away.

This small sandy tropical beach boasts some of Sri Lanka’s best and most stunning sunsets and sunrises.
All the Guest Houses in Mirissa are set back from the actual beach giving you the impression that you are on a deserted palm fringed island. Every now and again the silence is broken by the sound of a coconut falling on the sand or a chilled beer being opened by someone further up the beach.