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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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The Samadhi Buddha statue

Samadhi is a state of inner spiritual union with the object of observation. This is one of the ultimate stages of Buddhist spiritual practice.

Anyone visiting Anuradhapura will not miss to visit and place flowers at the base of the beautiful 5th century Samadhi Buddha statue, situated amongst the widespread remains of the ancient religious city of Anuradhapura.

This Pilima Vahanse is said to belong to the Abeygiriya period of the 3rd or 4th century of the country's history. It is not known in whose period of rule it was sculptured but is believed to be one of four similar statues facing the North, South, East and West found in this area. This statue faces the North.

The statue was found in 1888, with the nose damaged, at the very site it is now in. According to archaeologists, after the nose was repaired, it was over shaped and oversized. It may be because an ordinary mason who had no idea of proportions or aesthetics carried out the repair work.

The statue is 7'3 inches in height, and is carved from a single granite rock. It is said to have had two jewels for the eyes which are to said to have gone missing around 1914. The reality of this is questionable as the eyes are closed with no place for jewels to be placed. The shelter over the statue was constructed in 1959 or 1960.

According to these sources, Jawaharlal Nehru admired it when he first saw the statue in 1931. A year later, when he was in the Dehra Dun, a friend of his from Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, had sent him a picture of this statue which he had even kept with him in his cell; it had become his precious companion.

The Samadhi statue is symbolic of the peace and happiness of mind, with no attraction or hatred from the outside world to disturb it.

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The roofed bridge of Bogoda

Have you ever visited the fascinating bridge of Bogoda?

Bogoda, with its ancient temple and wooden bridge lies about 30 km from Bandarawela and 10 km from Badulla, off the Hali-ela junction. Believed to be the oldest surviving wooden bridge in the world, the Bogoda bridge dates back to the 1600s, but the temple just by it, has a much longer history, going back to the 1st century BC.

The Bridge belongs to the Dambadeni Era. The special feature of this is that it is made entirely out of wood and is full of woodcarvings. According to the legend, not a single steel nail has been used in the construction of the bridge. This bridge is around 50 feet in length and about five feet wide.

The roof has distinctly Kandyan style tiles and even the modest decorative carvings on the wooden pillars holding up the roof belongs to that era. The roof over the bridge is for shelter and protection from bad weather.

The bridge had been also used as an ambalama during the old days when travelling took weeks of hard walking. This bridge is believed to have been built by a father and son who were wood craftsmen.

According to the folk stories, the son was assigned with the task of completing the bridge and was told not to leave the place until the father came to add the final touches.

The son who was too impatient to wait for his father, having completed part of the task, went to meet the father disobeying orders.

Since the ritual finishing touches were not done before the son left the site, he was cursed, and died prematurely. The bridge built across the Gallanda Oya, as it flows down the mountain to meet Uma Oya in Uva Paranagama (a branch of the Mahaweli Ganga), is on an ancient route, which linked Badulla and Kandy. When you cross the bridge, you can reach the village of Mahakumbura and the route then leads to Uva Ketawela.

The bridge is still the road used by many villagers around.

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