The tropical paradise that is Sri Lanka has many golden beaches fronting the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Beach hotels in Sri Lanka are many and on the western coast Wadduwa, Beruwela , Waskaduwa and Kalutara are home to several luxury resorts. A market leader in this field is Citrus Waskaduwa with its beautiful beachfront environment, elegant accommodation and meticulous service, delectable cuisine and many other facilities is an excellent choice to savour the delights of Lanka while cocooned in luxury.
To any visitor to the west coast resorts in and around Kalutara a visit to the sacred and historical Kalutara Bodhiya would be well worth their while. historical When travelling south along the coastal Galle Road and as one approaches Kalutara the pristine white Chaithiya and the majestic Bo Tree of this sacred shrine comes into view. It is customary for travelers to stop at the Bodhiya and drop a few coins into a collection box, venerate the Bodhiya and seek blessings for the onward journey. From morning till night white devotees throng to worship at the shrine and the scent of flowers and incense, glowing oil lamps, the pealing of bells , drumming and chanting combine to create a spiritual environment. All visitors must be decently clothed and foot wear and head gear must be removed when entering the hallowed precincts. The sacred Bo Tree provides welcome shade to those who worship and meditate under its spreading branches.
The origins of the sacred Bo Tree at Kalutara date back to the second century BC and the sacred site was known as Gangathilake Maha Viharaya. It was at this time that the Arahath Mahinda instructed King Devanampiyatiss to ensure that one of the 32 saplings of the Jaya Shri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura be planted in Kalutara. The King obeyed and extended his royal patronage to the sacred site.
The Sinhala Bodhiwansa records that until the Portuguese conquered the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka in 1505 the sacred Bo Tree at Kalutara existed intact. The Portuguese destroyed the temple and converted this hallowed site into a fort. Though the bo tree remained unharmed people ceased to worship at this place.
A Prince from Pandya , India planted a bo sapling in the Pahala Maluwa or Lower Terrace around 1042 A D and this led people to start venerating the Bo Tree again as the Pahala Maluwa was easily accessible.
The Dutch and British utilized the Uda Maluwa or Upper Terrace as a camp prior to the 1815 surrender of the Kingdom of Kandy to the British and the subsequent unification of the island. Once this happened the British commenced establishing administrative units the premises of the Kalutara Bodhiya became the official residence and office of the Government Agent, Kalutara.The Galle Road running between the Ihala and Pahala Maluwas was constructed during this era despite opposition from the people. The sharing of the premises caused much inconvenience to all parties concerned .On a request made to the the Then Prime Minister the small hillock to the east of the Galle Road to the Bodhiya and the administration Unit and GA’s Bungalow were demolished. The Kalutara Bodhi Trust manages the affairs of the Bodhiya.
The first thin hemispherical shell in Sri Lanka was constructed at the Kalutara Bodhiya. Built upon a pre -stressed concrete frame the cavernous interior of the Chaithya houses a mini dagoba, Buddha statues and Buddhist flags. Narrow windows provide panoramic views.
A visit to this sacred site will be very satisfying spiritually, aesthetically and historically.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.