Abhayagiri Monastery Complex
Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura (town)

The Abhayagiri Monastery Complex is located in Sri Lanka, in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982. The monastery traces its history back to the 1st century BC. According to legend, the Sinhalese king Valagamba, dethroned by the Tamils, promised that if he defeated the invaders, he would build a majestic Buddhist monastery near his capital. In 89 BC, the monarch returned the throne, and, keeping his word, on Mount Fearlessness (Abhayagiri) he erected a huge stupa (dagoba) of Abhayagiri - its height was initially 122 meters, today - 75 meters. 12 monastery buildings were built around the dagoba. The monastery enjoyed the patronage of the Sinhalese kings, and during the reign of Gajabuhu it was significantly expanded and acquired great influence. The Abhayagiri Monastery became a haven for heretical Buddhist monks - followers of the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, in contrast to Theravada, who interpreted the canons of Buddhism more freely. Abhayagiri was considered the stronghold of Mahayanism in Sri Lanka and was a religious opponent of the Maha Vihara monastery, which preached traditional Buddhism. The beginning of the "Golden Age" of the Abhayagiri monastery dates back to the 3rd century - the time of the reign of King Mahasena, who ended the rivalry between the two monasteries by demolishing the Maha Vihara. At the peak of the monastery’s heyday, more than 5,000 monks lived in it; the area occupied by Abhayagiri exceeded 200 hectares. The central place was occupied by the Abhayagiri dagoba; opposite the entrance to it was the Sannipatasala assembly hall. The Buddha Hall, richly decorated with gold and silver, was a repository for the Jade Buddha, literally strewn with precious stones. The residential complex consisted of five two-story buildings equipped with water supply and sewerage. The monastery had a huge library and its own educational institution, where novices were trained. Temples, stupas, pavilions, a huge refectory, a bathhouse, Kuttam Pokuna stone ponds (twin ponds) used by monks for ablutions, guard stones, the famous Moonstone from the Mahasena Palace, as well as a stone statue of Samadhi Buddha made in the 5th century - an incomplete list property of the Abhayagiri monastery. After the capital was moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, the monastery lost royal support, and in the 12th century, under King Parkambahu, persecution began against Mahayana adherents, the monks were expelled from Abhayagiri, and the monastery was abandoned. Time destroyed, and vandals plundered the once prosperous monastery, gradually Abhayagiri was swallowed up by the jungle, and for many centuries the monastery was forgotten. Only in 1880 its ruins were discovered by archaeologists. Many monastic buildings were excavated, and the Abhayagiri dagoba was completely restored. Currently, the Abhayagiri Monastery is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, a historical, archaeological and tourist attraction of world significance.

Tourist Objects nearby
Dagoba Jetavanaramaya
Dagoba Jetavanaramaya
Statue of Samadhi Buddha
Statue of Samadhi Buddha
The Holy City of Anuradhapura
The Holy City of Anuradhapura
Kuttam Pokuna Pools (Twin Ponds)
Kuttam Pokuna Pools (Twin Ponds)
Related Tour Objects
Abbeys and Monasteries
Abbeys and Monasteries
Archaeological sites
Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre Priory
Abbeys and Monasteries
Altun Ha - Water of the Rocks
Altun Ha - Water of the Rocks
Archaeological sites
Great Buddha Hall
Great Buddha Hall
Abbeys and Monasteries
Racci
Racci
Archaeological sites
Archaeological Site Ancient City of Sabrat
Archaeological Site Ancient City of Sabrat
Archaeological sites