Atamasthana (Eight Sacred)
Atamasthana or Eight sacred places are a series of locations in Sri Lanka where the Buddha had visited during his three visits to the country. The sacred places are known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanwelisaya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiri Dagaba, Jetavanarama, Mirisaveti Stupa and Lankarama. They are situated in Anuradhapura, the capital of the ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom.
The sacred city of Anuradhapura exerted a considerable influence on the development of architecture in the country during several centuries. The city is nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, it lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in island’s North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya.
According to the Mahavansa the sacred city was found around 350 BC by Pandukabhaya, the 1st king of the Anuradhapura kingdom and sixth since the arrival of Vijaya. It eventually become the principal shrines of Buddhism including the branch planted of the sacred fig tree, Bodhi tree from Bodhgaya, under which Siddharta attained spiritual enlightenment and supreme wisdom. The sacred tree brought there in the 3rd century BC during the second mission, led by Sangamitta, a Buddhist nun and daughter of Emperor Ashoka. The relics of Buddha have, moreover, shaped the religious topography of Anuradhapura, where the Thuparamaya was built by Devanampiya Tissa in the 3rd century BC to house the clavicle of Buddha, an important religious relic presented by Emperor Ashoka.
The city’s apogee was reached under the reign of Dutthagamani who, in 161 BC, defeated the South Indian invader Ellalan re-establishing Buddhism in the place of Brahminism and endowed the site with extraordinary monuments including the Mirisaveti Stupa, Ruwanwelisaya, and the Brazen Palace. The city flourished for 1,300 years, then was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Later hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again.