Sri Lanka is the exotic emerald island of beautiful ancient cities and stunning rock towns. The country also happens to be an ancient centre for Buddhism, being one of the first places where the emissaries of King Ashoka introduced Buddhism. As a result of this, Sri Lanka Buddhist tours are very popular and thousands of people travel to various places in the country to meditate and find peace.
Read on to know more about the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka where you can learn everything about spirituality and religious practices in the country:
1. Sigiriya Rock
The Sigiriya Rock has been important in the conscience of Lankans for close to two millennia. In the 5th century AD, the king of the ancient city of Anuradhapura built a palace atop the Sigiriya rock that turned into one of the most important centres of power in South over the next few centuries. In the 13th century, the palace was transformed to a monastery. Today, the place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourists can still feel the spiritual vibes of this place as they reach the top after ascending 1200 steps. Also, roam through the ruins of the Sky Palace to get a peek into its history.
Location: Matale District, near Dambulla, Sri Lanka
2. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
This Bodhi tree was planted in 249 BC in the ancient city of Anuradhapura and is said to be a cutting from the actual tree under which Gautam Buddha achieved enlightenment. While the city has fallen to ruins, the Bodhi tree has become a major attraction for Buddhist pilgrims. It is also the oldest living tree in the world that has a known date on which it was planted. While the ruins of Anuradhapura are a treat for people interested in architecture, the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree is an intensely spiritual experience for even non-pilgrims and is often included in Sri Lanka holiday package.
Location: Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
3. Mihintale Buddha
The Mihintale Buddha is another treasure for people seeking religious and spiritual experiences in the ancient city of Anuradhapura and one of the best Sri Lanka tourist places. Located about 12 kilometres east of the city ruins of Anuradhapura, the mountain peak is supposed to be the spot where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. Legend has it that it was where Mahinda, son of the emperor Ashoka who had converted to Buddhism, met the ruler of Sri Lanka and recited to him the verses of Culahastipadopama as well as from other sutras. Today, the peak can be reached by climbing 1840 granite steps carved into the mountain. There are also quarters for monks who live here and various temples on the way.
Location: Mihintale, Sri Lanka
4. Adam’s Peak
This conical mountain peak located in the central highlands of the Ratnapura district is another great centre for Buddhist tourism. Best known for the Sri Pada, the sacred rock formation that is regarded as the footprint of Buddha. Curiously, it is also said to be the footprint of Shiva (in Hindu mythology) and Adam (in Islamic and Christian traditions). There are several trails that hikers take to the peak, but the gorgeous profile of the mountain is an attraction even from afar. Adam’s Peak is also quite romantic, and it often features on Sri Lanka honeymoon package.
Location: Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka