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Why We Should Visit Isurumuniya


Are you planning to return to your travel life and in search of travel destinations. Here is why you should visit Isurumuniya and Anuradhapura.


Last weekend I had the privilege to visit Isurumuniya. An centuries old temple located in the Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It was built by then king Devanampiyatissa who had lived between 307BC – 267BC. It was built for the children in the high class society who were ordained.

It was my first visit to the Isurumuniya and for the 1 1/2 hours I had spent in that place I realized the beauty and the heritage it holds.

Though it was built as a temple Isurumuniya is more famous for its rock carvings. There are four major carvings which historians believe to have added during later periods.

Two of them are in the small museum next to the temple building, which was closed when I was visiting. So unfortunately I could not see the carvings for myself. But the other two large carvings were out in the open.

There are four carvings. They are The man and The Horse, The Elephants, The Isurumuni Lovers and The Royal Family.

Following picture is of the rock carving “Man and the Horse”. It is carved right next to the temple. Although the real reason behind the carving was not yet found the historians believe that the carving is a portrait of the god of rain “Varuna” and his horse “Agni“.

Man and The Hoarse

Following picture is of the “Elephant”. It is located in the same rock formation and below the rock carving man and the horse. This rock carving shows features unique to Pallava tradition.

The Elephants

Even though I could not get any pictures I could find them in the internet. The following picture is of the “Isurumuniya Lovers”. It was found at the Royal Garden Ranmasu Uyana which is nearby. There are few theories that suggest the carving is a portrait of several couples including Saliya- Ashokamala. Saliya was a prince and the son of king Dutugemunu. Ashokamala was a beautiful maiden of a lowly tribe called sadol. Prince Saliya fell in love with the Ashokamala and left his royalty for their love. Also some believe that the carving could be of the Hindu god Shiva and his wife Parvati. Anyhow up to this date the real couple in the rock carving is a mystery.

By Yasasuru – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54837580

The following picture is of the rock carving “Royal Family” which believed to be the carving of the king Dutugemunu and the royal family members.

By S.G.Seyone – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32962598

Inside the temple you can see an entrance gate carved on the rock.

Behind the temple there are stairs carved into the rock which can help to get to the top of the rock. There you can see a carved rock which is called Kataram in Sinhala. Kataram is a rock carving to prevent water to drip down the rock from that limit. Which is a common feature in rock temples in Sri Lanka.

Kataram

At the top of the rock you can see a huge man made lake called “Thisa wewa” on a side and on the other side you can see tops of the three large pagodas which were built thousands of years ago. Two of them are painted in white while the other one is brown. Three of them are located in a

Along with them there is another pagoda, Sanadahiru Seya which is still building so do not be confused.

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka Anuradhapura is a must. But there are few tips I would like to give you.

  • Anuradhapura is located in the dry zone in Sri Lanka and you might feel uncomfortable due to heat. The temperature can be as high as 350C.
  • Because within temple you are not allowed to wear any footwear and heated rocks and tiles can be a nightmare. Also do not forget to carry a bottle of water with you. You might not know when you need it.
  • Most of the historical places within the region is in walking distance but due to heat which can be a bit uncomfortable. But if you want to walk around I would like to suggest you do that in the evening. (After 3 pm)
  • Temples do not allow tourists with shorter or revealing clothes. So you need to change into a decent non revealing outfit before entering them. (Even men) Some of these places might provide you a blanket to cover yourself but due to pandemic situation I believe it is best to pack your own clothing.
  • If you need a detailed tour you cannot go over everything within a day. So check the tour schedules before booking them. Otherwise you might miss the most beautiful stories. Trust me you do not want that.
  • If you are a solo traveler without a guide I suggest that you keep a map with you. Because there are many places to visit and the little building you see might be thousands years old.
  • As not only an ancient kingdom but also as a pilgrim site Anuradhapura can be crowded due to pilgrims. So try to avoid crowded hours if possible and wait for a moment to admire the beautiful heritage and history.
  • During the rainy season Anuradhapura might get heavy rainfall but only for a brief period. If you can find shelter for a few minutes that rainfall can be refreshing.
  • My best opinion is to visit outdoor attractions during the evening right after the sun set or in the early morning before it gets hot (before 10 am) and visit indoor attractions in the mid day.

I hope you find this article helpful for your next tour in Sri Lanka. Also kindly follow the COVID guidelines for your and other’s safety. Thank you for reading ❤

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