Maha Seya from Mada Maluwa After a long and tiresume drive, we have spent the morning roaming around Isurumuniya Temple and ruins of Wessagiriya & Ranmasu Uyana. Wessagiriya and Ranmasu uyana been not much popular among pilgrimages; holds a magnificient number of ancient Sri Lankan architectures and landscaping wonders. Let me talk about them in another post. This is to share my evening experience at Mihinthalaya; one of the key historical Buddhist temples found in the area. Through Araliya Trees to Ambasthalaya
Mihinthalaya is known as the first ever known or recorded wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka and probably the first wildlife sanctuary in the whole world. Mihinthalaya monastery is also a vast area consisting buildings used by monks in the old days. Some of them were recovered by archaeological department but most of the buildings are yet to be recovered.
There are many known art works found in the site, within a limited time I was only been able to visit few main attractions. Since we choose to take the road to Madamaluwa, we have missed the Kantaka Chethya (කණ්ටක චේත්ය). The Lion pond (මහා සෑය) was next to the car park, but nothing much of it can be seen after night fall. However, from the middle terrace Maha Saya can be seen in distance. Maha Seya (මහා සෑය), a creation of king Mahadathika Mahanaga (7-19 AD) is the largest stupa found in Mihinthalaya reaching a height of 45 feet and a diameter of 136 feet. Ancient chronicle Poojawaliya as well as a stone inscription by Mahinda IV refers this as Ambulu dagaba. The lighted up Maha Seya can be seen from a very long distance and it is the identification symbol of Mihinthalaya apart from Aradhana Gala (ආරාධනා ගල)
Across the Middle Terrace (මැද මලුව) is the ancient stone stairway toward Ambasthalaya or the Upper Terrace (උඩ මලුව). The stairway is covered by the shade of Araliya trees and few lights here and there was giving it a gloomy look. This stone staircase is created from the base of the rock until it reach Maha Seya in three stages. In some places it is carved in the rock itself and in other places they have used granite blocks to create stair way. The middle part is mostly done by using granite blocks and both sides of the staircase is covered by large granite blocks as supports of the staircase.
Sela Chethya & Aradhana Gala At the end of the second staircase, we came to the upper terrace. The main attraction here is the Sela Chethya (සේල චේත්ය) which said to be created on the place where Load Buddha sat on meditation on his third visit to Sri Lanka. The stupa is created on a stone stage and there are many stone pillars surrounding it which means there was a roof over it at a time. This formation is called chethiyagara (චේතියඝර). This is known as Ambasthala Chethiyagaraya and was a creation of the King Kanitta Thissa (167-185 A.D.) Sela Chethya and Maha Seya
Behind the Sela Chethya is the Aradhana Gala. This is believed to be the place where Maha Mahinda Thero has met King Dewanampriya Thissa on his journey to bring Buddhism to Sri Lanka. On the right side of Sela Chethya is one can find the stairway to reach Maha Seya and Mihindu Seya and on the left side it is the stairway to reach newly built Load Buddha statue. I chose the last ascend which seems to be easier, and reached the Buddha Statue. One can see both Aradhana Gala and Maha Seya very well from this place. Two monuments under the moon Buddha statue at Mihinthalaya
Maha Sey and shadow of Mihindu Seya
I finally met the rest of the crew here and they have been to Aradhana
Gala while I was busy taking photos. Together we started descending and start ascending to the peak where Maha Seya is. All
Maha Seya from Ambasthalaya
these ascends now has steel supporting fence which has made it quite easy and safe for pilgrimages. This must be handy in the month of A
sala (June) which is the peak time at Anuradhapura. It was very quite on the top as there were only ourselves and few others on the top. Beside Maha Seya, one can see the remains of Mihidu Seya. This is said to be a creation of King Uttiya in second century B.C. It is said that this stupa contains portion of ashes of Maha Maninda Thero.
I had no intention to climb Aradhana Gala but a young one with us has requested to go there. We could only climb halfway due to the fact it was getting late and we had to meet another party at Thuparamaya so it was time to say good bye to Mihinthalaya and head back to Anuradhapura. Hope you have enjoyed the beauty of a night at Mihinthalaya.