SOLOSMASTHAANA (THE 16 PLACES OF WORSHIP)
According to the chronicles of Sri Lanka, there are 16 places hallowed by visits of the Buddha. Thousands of Buddhists visit these places to worship in groups.
1. Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya (Badulla District)
The Mahiyangana stupa is said to have been built during the lifetime of Lord Buddha enshrining the lock of hair given by Him to God Saman when the Buddha first visited to Sri Lanka and preached to the primitive people living there. It is the first ever stupa to be constructed in Sri Lanka.
2. Nagadipa Purana Vihara - Nainativu Island (Jaffna District)
Constructed at the site where Buddha visited Lanka for the second time, five years after attaining Enlightenment. He intervened and mediated in settling a dispute between warring Naga kings, Chulodara and Mahodara, over the possession of a gem-studded throne. This precious throne which was offered to the Buddha , was returned to the Naga Kings and was later enshrined in this stupa.
3. Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Kelaniya (Gampaha District)
Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is Situated about 10 km from Colombo on the Kelani River valley. This temple was hallowed during the third and final visit of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, eight years after gaining enlightenment. Its history goes back nearly 2,566 years. The Mahawansa records that the original Dagoba at Kelaniya enshrined a gem studded throne on which the Buddha sat and preached. The annual Kelani Duruthu Perahera is held in the month of January.
4. Sri Pada (Ratnapura District)
It is believed that Lord Buddha placed his footprint on the summit of this sacred mountain during his third visit to Sri Lanka. The mountain is 7,360 feet high, it is the fifth highest mountain in the country and has several approaches, the main ones being through the Hatton town and Ratnapura District. During December and April thousands of devotees climb the mountain to pay obeisance.
5. Diva Guhava (Ratnapura District)
The cave in which Lord Buddha spent the day after placing the footprint on Sri Pada and it is now believed this cave is near by the Sri Pada mountain in Ratnapura district. From here He proceeded to Digha Vapi in Ampara District.
6. Dighavapi Raja Maha Vihara, Dighavapiya (Ampara District)
The cetiya constructed by King Saddha Tissa In 137 BC.at the site where Lord Buddha spent sometime with Arhants absorbed in ecstatic meditation, during his final visit. Enshrined are the relics of Lord Buddha.
7. Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara, Badulla.
A cetiya erected by King Devanampiya Tissa enshrining the relics of Lord Buddha. The site has been consecrated by Lord Buddha, who spent a few moments absorbed in ecstatic meditation.
8. Tissamaharama Raja MahaVihara, Tissamaharama (Hambantota District)
One of the largest Dagobas (Stupas) in Ruhuna is situated in the temple which is said to have been built by king Kavantissa in the 2nd Century BC. The Silpasena Pirivena has been at this site.
9. The Sri Maha Bodhiya, Anuradhapura.
The Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world (2,200 years). It is the right branch of the very tree beneath which, at Buddha Gaya in North India, Lord Buddha gained enlightenment, and was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd Century BC by Princess Sanghamitta, sister of the Arhant Mahinda, who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
10. Mirisawetiya Vihara, Anuradhapura
The first religious edifice built by King Dutugemunu (161-137 BC), and according to the Mahavansa, the relic studded sceptre of the King is deposited in the Dagoba.
11. Swarnamali Vihara (Ruwanvelisaya - Maha Stupa), Anuradapura.
Building of the Maha Stupa was commenced by King Dutugemunu and completed by King Sadda Tissa (137-119B.C.) For the relic enshrinement ceremony Arahants had been present from all Buddhist countries at the time, which included India, Kashmira, Persia, Alexandria. Of the 6 dronas (a certain measure of capacity), of ‘the bodily relics of Lord Buddha, one drona of sacred relics is ensbrined here. The Cetiya is 338 feet high.
12. Thuparama Vihara, Anuradhapura
It is the first cetiya to be erected after the establishment of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka was built by King Devanampiyatissa in the form of a paddy heap. The sacred right clavicle bone of Lord Buddha is said to be enshrined here. The pillars capped with sculptured capitals ranged in concentric circles round the dagoba indicate that it was roofed over originally.
13. Abhayagiri Vihara, Anuradhapura
Built by King Valagambahu (89-77 BC) on a site which too has been hallowed by Lord Buddha. Relics of Lord Buddha, and the Tripitaka inscribed in gold leaves are said to be enshrined here.
14. Jetavanarama, Anuradhapura
The waist-band used by Lord Buddha is said to be enshrined here. It was constructed by King Mahasena (276-303,CE) the last King of the Mahavamsa Chronicle of Sri Lanka.
15. Sela Cetiya (Stupa) Mihintala Raja Maha Vihara, Mihintale
Situated 10 Km from Anuradhapura, Mihintale is the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was here that in the 3rd Century BC. Arhant Mahinda met King Devanam Piyatissa who was out hunting, and converted him to Buddhism. Mihintale became the abode of Arhant Mahinda and 3,000 monks. Hundreds of shrines and caves where the monks lived can be seen at the Mihinthale rock and the stairway of 1840 wide steps leads from the bottom of the rock to the summit.
The Sela Catiya, The Kantahka Cetiya, Ambasthale Dagoba, Maha Seya and Indikatu Seya are all in this temple complex.
The Urna Lome, the sacred hair relic between the eyebrows, is said to be enshrined in Sela Cetiya.
16. Kiri Vehera, Kataragama (Moneragala District)
First built by a local ruler called Mahasena, upon a site hallowed by a visit of Lord Buddha, it is said to have enshirned in it the golden seat, from which Lord Buddha delivered the sermon, a lock of hair and the royal sword used by Prince Siddhartha to cut off his hair at the time of the Great Renunciation.