Anuradhapura was the home of the longest continuous kingdom in the world, lasting 1400 years with 189 successive kings. It is home to three Buddhist monasteries of over 5000 monks each, and the most sacred Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka. We did a bike tour around the large archaeological site.
The first stupa we visited holds the collarbone of the Buddha.
A moonstone is located at the entrance of a stupa. The outer semicircle usually has carvings of animals, with layers of foliage and lotus flowers engraved as well. The animals symbolize birth, old age, sickness, and death. The geese separate milk from water, symbolizing the separation of good from bad. The lotus flower symbolizes the purity of the Buddha, as lotus flowers can grow in brackish water, purifying the environment.
We admired an old Buddha statue whose face represents both happiness and sorrow depending on which side of the statue a person stands.
The twin ponds belonged to one of the three monasteries here.
The red stupa is the tallest stupa in Sri Lanka. This stupa used to be white, but has been relatively abandoned, therefore the white plaster is virtually gone.
The last stupa we visited is the most sacred stupa, second only to the tooth relic. This stupa holds a bowl of Buddha relics inside.
In the same complex is the oldest Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, where the Buddha obtained enlightenment. It is 2266 years old.
We drove to Colombo for our last day of the trip. Colombo is the bustling and chaotic capital of Sri Lanka. It is also the unfortunate location of the Easter bombings of 2019. On April 21, 2019, three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo were bombed in a coordinated Islamic terrorist attack that killed 259 people and injured another 500 people.
We only had one day in Colombo, but managed to see quite a bit on a bus tour of the city. We stopped at Independence Square, a national monument that commemorates Sri Lankan independence from the British in 1948. The statue at the front of the memorial is of the first prime minister, called the “Father of the Nation.” We also saw the Colombo Lotus Tower, the National Museum, the Municipal Council, the Old Colombo Lighthouse, and the sites of the bombings.
During our tour of Sri Lanka, we learned a few Sinhalese phrases. “Ayubowan” directly translates to “may you live long” and is used as a greeting. “Sthuthi” means “thank you.” Sthuthi, Sri Lanka!