Sri Maha Bodhi
- Sri Maha Bodhi Mawatha Ancient City
Lonely Planet review for Sri Maha Bodhi
The Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred bodhi tree, is central to Anuradhapura in both a spiritual and physical sense. The huge tree has grown from a cutting brought from Bodhgaya in India by the Princess Sangamitta, sister of Mahinda (who introduced the Buddha's teachings to Sri Lanka), so it has a connection to the very basis of the Sinhalese religion.
This sacred tree serves as a reminder of the force that inspired the creation of all the great buildings at Anuradhapura, and is within walking distance of many of the most interesting monuments. The whole area around the Sri Maha Bodhi, the Brazen Palace and Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba was once probably part of the Maha Vihara (Great Temple).
The sacred bodhi tree is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world, for it has been tended by an uninterrupted succession of guardians for over 2000 years, even during the periods of Indian occupation. There are not one but many bodhi trees here; the oldest and holiest stands on the topmost platform. The steps leading up to the tree's platform are very old, but the golden railing around it is quite modern. The railing and other structures around the trees are festooned with prayer flags. Thousands of devotees come to make offerings at weekends and particularly on poya (full-moon) days. April is a particularly busy month as pilgrims converge on the site for snana puja (offerings or prayers). You must remove your shoes and your hat before entering this site.
Entry to the Sri Maha Bodhi compound area costs around Rs 100, but if things aren't busy you may not be approached for the money.