ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “fig

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, 2019.12.10

Day 6 (2 of 3).

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya is probably the second most popular attraction in or around Kandy after the Temple of the Tooth Relic.  Lying at 5.5 km west of Kandy, the 147 acres garden was established in 1821 by Alexander Moon to house coffee and cinnamon plants.  In 1843, plants from other gardens including the London’s Kew Garden were transplanted to Peradeniya to establish the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya is one of the about 230 tropical botanical gardens in South or Southeast Asia.  Before 19th century, botanical gardens in Europe were mainly designated for scientific studies and classification.  During the 19th century as colonialism extended to the east, botanical gardens were established by the Europeans in Asia as a research facility to study not only the science of plants, but also the techniques and economy of agriculture.  The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya had contributed to the agricultural development of Ceylon, the former British colony in Sri Lanka.  Today, it is a lovely park that opens for all who pay the admission.

01The Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya is a pleasant park frequented by visitors of all ages, even for those who have little knowledge in botany and horticulture.

02One of the first plants that caught our attention was Amherstia nobilis, or Pride of Burma, near the Great Circle.

03The Great Circle was the first large lawn area we reached in the garden.  Surrounding the circle were groves of different tropical trees.

04We could hear strange noises coming from one of the groves.  As soon as we walked closer, we discovered a large group of Indian flying foxes on the tree canopies.

05The trees in the garden provides perfect resting spots for the bats during the day.

06Apparently the bats were resting, but they often moved around and communicated with one another.

07When a few of them took off in the air, we could appreciate the large wing span of the flying foxes.

08With a wing span ranging from 1.2 – 1.5m, the Indian Flying Foxes are one of the world’s largest bat.

09While the bats were busy pushing one another for a better spot, two cows had the entire grass field to themselves.

10It was a unique experience to see so many trees were occupied by the resting flying foxes.

11The three Royal Palm Avenue are probably the most recognizable scenes of the garden.

12Stretching their branches like myriad of open arms, the Giant Java Fig Trees are the favourite photo spots for many.

13The Giant Java Fig Trees occupy a large area of space among themselves.

14Near the Giant Java Fig is another amazing giant.

15Built in 1931 by the British, Peradeniya Sangili Palama is a suspension bridge that lies across the  Mahaweli River.

16Back to the Great Lawn, we stopped by another famous Giant Java Fig Tree.

17Some called this the largest pruned tree in the world.

18An interesting study on grass species from around the world.

19It wasn’t really crowded so we had a good 2.5 hours of relaxing time at Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya.


2,308-YEAR-OLD SACRED BODHI, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, 2019.12.06

Day 2 (4 of 5).

In 288BC, a sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred fig tree in Buddha Gaya of India under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, was brought to Sri Lanka by Sangamitta Theri, the eldest daughter of Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great.  The sapling was brought to the island in a golden vase on the ship, and planted by King Devanampiya Tissa on a 6.5m high terrace in the Mahamevnawa Gardens of Anuradhapura.  Sangamitta stayed in Anurādhapura and established the nun-lineage of Bhikkhunī with several other Indian nuns.   Along with his elder brother Mahinda, Sangamitta was a vital figure for spreading Buddhism to Sri Lanka.  The ancient capital Anuradhapura continued to flourish and develop into a hub for Buddhist teachings that lasted for many centuries.

Today, the sacred tree Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi continues to thrive and has become one of the most important pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world.  The amazing 2308-year-old tree is also known as the oldest living tree planted by human hands on record.  Given the significance of the tree, the Sri Lankan government banned all construction within 500m from it.  Walls were also erected in the 18th century to protect the tree from wild elephants. Golden fence around the tree was later added in 1969.  Buddha statues were placed at four sides of the sacred tree by different ancient kings.  Ceremonies are held at the site to celebrate new year and several other festivals every year.

01After a light lunch, we ventured out the Sanctuary Tissawewa and head east.  Following the instruction given by the hotel staff, we found our way towards the legendary fig tree.

02From the main road, we followed a pedestrian only path for about 10 minutes towards the sacred tree.  At one point, we passed by a tree full of monkeys.

03Most worshipers arrived at the sacred tree with lotus flower as offerings.

04A green garden mat surrounds the terrace where the sacred Bodhi is located.

07From the semicircular Moon stone (Sandakada pahana, a floor feature unique to Sinhalese architecture), worshipers would go up the steps to the shrine at the second level of the platform.

05At each cardinal direction, a shrine is built for worshipers to leave their offerings and receive blessing from the monk.

11The shrine is relatively simple, with an offering table and small Buddha statues.

06Offerings of lotus flower can be seen at all Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, including Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

10Some shrines are more popular than the others.

08Dressed in white, worshipers would leave a handful of lotus flower at the shrine, and receive blessing and a white string wrist bracelet from the monk of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

09At the platform, monks and worshipers interact and chat prayers towards the sacred Bodhi tree.

12Behind the shrine further up the platform, we could see what must be the 2300 year old sacred Bodhi tree.

13The lush green crown of the sacred tree provides a perfect backdrop for the golden features of the shrines and colouful Buddhist flags.  The golden sunlight, peaceful aura,  and sounds of rubbing leaves in the gentle breeze convey a strong sense of spirituality.

14Structures painted in gold are erected to support certain branches of the sacred tree.

15A small temple is located at one side of the platform.

16Inside the temple, a decent sized worship hall houses a Buddhist statue.

17Apart from the sacred Bodhi tree on the highest terrace, younger fig trees are planted at the lower platforms.  These trees are meant to provide protection to the sacred tree against storm and animals.

18We enjoyed the spiritual atmosphere of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.  After checking out the shrines at all four sides of the sacred tree, we left the compound at the south gate.