Tantirimalai carved in stone | Daily News

Tantirimalai carved in stone

 Tantirimalai, a mystical    archaeological site in the    Northern Central Province of    Sri Lanka, a place of huge historic    importance with its giant boulders    hiding ancient buddhas hewn out of     the rock face and somewhere lost in    the sands of time is a priceless    golden bat necklace
Tantirimalai, a mystical archaeological site in the Northern Central Province of Sri Lanka, a place of huge historic importance with its giant boulders hiding ancient buddhas hewn out of the rock face and somewhere lost in the sands

A scenic drive through rural countryside brought me to Tantirimalai, an old village forty kilometres from Sri Lanka’s first Kingdom Anuradhapura. The name literally translated means place of the golden bat necklace. It is believed that a piece of stunning jewellery of this description was created and hidden here at a secret location around 2,300 years ago, when the temple complex was built and gold was discovered near by, but until this day its whereabouts remains a mysterious secret. Explorers and local people still enjoy speculating on where it might be hidden as some say the clues are in the rock carvings, but searches made by numerous people fascinated by these golden legends handed down from one generation to another have all ended in nothing. The elders of the village as they crack me open a refreshing coconut say behind every story there is always a grain of truth. However for me the real gold is in the beauty and serenity of this historically rich site with its stunning rock sculptures and captivating lunar landscape.

To find Sri Lanka’s Brigadoon look out for large granite boulders on a bend in the road, which create a natural entrance to a quaint village and military camp, which along with the boulders are great protection from outsiders. It feels like you are travelling into another world, as it is so isolated and remote. As you walk into the ancient religious site you are greeted by a grey granite moonscape landscape littered with simple temple structures, lakes full of lotus, seated and reclining Buddha’s carved out of ancient rock faces. Look closer and you will discover intriguing Brahmin inscriptions etched on the walls of meditation caves, which can be reached by a short walk through the forest and here you can sit cross legged for hours and contemplate life.

The walled Bodhi tree, a sapling of the 2,500-year-old tree is planted at one of the highest points in the religious complex and they say each leaf that drops holds special powers. Test out its true magical properties by walking around it and you may I am told be granted eight wishes from good fortune to special fertility rights or in my case that the island heals from this terrible medical disaster and flourishes once more. Well known through out Sri Lanka for the ancient Buddhist temples situated in a near by rocky covered area, because the local village people believe that this Bodhi Tree was brought from India to Sri Lanka, and one night along the way the pot containing the sapling was kept at Thantheremale as it was then called. It is believed from that tree one small branch came off and was separately grown from the original plant pot, which was gifted as a thank you to the village as a way to remember the holy trip going through the area and also to give thanks to all those that helped on its sacred journey. Some believe that this may be the first Sri Maha Bhodi plant planted in Sri Lanka. Whether it is or not the place is truly spectacular with Buddha’s reminding one of the islands great rock carvers and how every giant boulder was an opportunity to create auspicious religious art. Here these Buddhas from rock are surrounded by pretty water spots making it the most idyllic place in Sri Lanka to sit and reflect on the world.

There is a small museum at the site and some quirky little street sellers with all sorts of interesting local delicacies including squashed bat. This of course is a little joke and when you open up the green leaves there is all manner of delicious picnic style rice and curries. As per the historical evidence being currently dug up this fascinating area is one of the oldest human settlements in Sri Lanka which dates back according to archaeologists to pre 6th century BC, when Prince Vijaya and his men set foot on the island at a spot that came to be called Thambapanni, meaning bronze sand. Here in the small museum at the Isurumuni Raja MahaViharaya you can see the beautiful 4th-6th century Isurumuni Lovers carved in stone.

Many believe this Sacred City will become one of the pivotal post covid attractions as its many fascinating ruins include monastic ruined buildings, which are perfectly situated for outdoor travellers to enjoy the religious site including an amazing reclining Buddha and the splendid isolation of nature in all its wonders that helps everyone heal through meditation.


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