A Sacred Sanctuary in Anuradhapura


Nestled in the historic city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, the Abhayagiri Monastery stands as a testament to the country’s rich spiritual heritage. Dating back over two millennia, this renowned Buddhist complex has been a center of learning, meditation, and religious practice, attracting pilgrims and scholars alike. In this article, we will explore the history, significance, and architectural marvels of the Abhayagiri Monastery.

Historical Marvel

Established in the 2nd century BCE during the reign of King Vattagamani Abhaya, the Abhayagiri Monastery has a storied past. Originally founded as a small dwelling for monks, it grew rapidly in size and prominence over the centuries, eventually becoming one of the largest monastic institutions in ancient Sri Lanka. Its rise to prominence was further propelled by the patronage of successive rulers, who endowed it with vast land grants, extensive resources, and valuable artifacts.

Architectural Splendor

The Abhayagiri Monastery’s architectural brilliance is awe-inspiring. The centerpiece of the complex is the majestic Abhayagiri Stupa, a towering monument that reaches a height of approximately 75 meters. Its sheer scale and intricate detailing make it a marvel of ancient engineering. Surrounding the stupa are numerous image houses, assembly halls, and meditation chambers, each showcasing exquisite craftsmanship and artistic expression. The moonstone, a semi-circular stone carving at the entrance, adorned with intricate designs, represents the pinnacle of Sinhalese stone artistry.

Spiritual and Educational Hub

Throughout its history, the Abhayagiri Monastery played a pivotal role as a spiritual and educational center. Monks residing in the monastery engaged in rigorous meditation practices, nurturing a profound understanding of Buddhist teachings. The institution also became a renowned center of learning, attracting scholars from across Asia. Its library housed a vast collection of palm-leaf manuscripts, making it a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom.

Decline and Restoration

With the decline of Anuradhapura as the political and religious capital, the Abhayagiri Monastery suffered a gradual decline. The complex fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned. However, in recent times, efforts have been made to restore and preserve this cultural heritage site. Archaeological excavations, conservation projects, and ongoing research have contributed to the revival of the monastery, allowing visitors to witness its former glory and experience the serenity it once embodied.


The Abhayagiri Monastery stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Its rich history, architectural grandeur, and spiritual significance make it a must-visit destination for those seeking tranquility and a glimpse into the ancient past of Anuradhapura and the profound teachings of Buddhism.

green hut hotel & restaurant


Useful Tips

  • Abhayagiri Monastery is open to visitors from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm daily.

  • There is an entrance fee of 3,700 Sri Lankan rupees (approximately $19 USD) for foreign visitors and 200 rupees for local visitors.
  • Visitors must dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees when visiting the monastery, as a sign of respect for the Buddhist culture.
  • Guided tours of the monastery are available for a fee, and visitors can hire a licensed guide to explore the ancient ruins and learn about the history and culture of the monastery.
green hut hotel & restaurant