A visit to the Thanthrimale Raja Maha Viharaya in Anuradhapura
Our journey to Thanthrimale was on Poson Poya Day. We left Colombo at 5 am to travel 199.4 km to Anuradhapura in the, North Central Province of Sri Lanka, and reached Anuradapura by 4 pm (don't be put off by the time it took for us to travel, normally it's a 3-4 hour journey via the highway).
As it was Poson Poya Day, we made many stops at Dansals (alms offered by Buddhists as a meritorious act). They served maniocca (cassava) boiled with scraped coconut, Lunu miris (could be fiery), Chickpeas with coconut and drinks. At noon we were served a vegetarian lunch. All these were given free to devotees .
After a rest and a wash, we left at 5.30 pm for Thanthrimale which was situated approximately 40 km from the sacred city of Anuradhapura.
The Thanthrimale Raja Maha Viharaya was built in the 3rd century BC by King Devanampiyatissa. The temple which was built on rocks has a huge historical value.
It is said that when the Bo Sapling was brought to Sri Lanka from India by Bhikkuni Sangamitta Theri , she took rest in Thanthrimale. The king conducted a ceremony to pay reverence to the Bo Sapling, which miraculously produced eight more saplings of which one was handed over to Sage Thivakka who placed it on top of the stony layer, which protects the tree to date. Near the Bo Tree an inscription confirms that this Bo tree is one of the first eight shoots of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (Bo Tree) which was planted by Thivanka Bamuna.
To reach the Sacred Bo Tree , one has to walk on uneven rocks and as one climbs you get a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. Best is to go to the temple on a Poya night, but if one wishes to explore the area which has ponds and ruins of the monastary, day time is the best time for it (don't forget your sun screen).