Sri Lanka first heard the word Buddhism around the 3rd century B.C. The great emperor Asoka followed Buddhism and its teachings on a very large scale. His son Mahinda too followed his steps toward Buddhism. Asoka asked Mahinda to go to the island of Sri Lanka and introduce Buddhism to the natives there. Mahinda then, after The Third Buddhist Council, went to Sri Lanka and introduced Buddhism there as an oral tradition to the kings.
They became the followers of Buddhism and then it soon started to spread widely on the island. In this way Sri Lanka gets to know this religion and then started following it religiously. Since then, it transformed as a part of Sinhalese culture. And now it stands as an integral element to the Sinhalese civilization. The influence is reflected even in the literary development of the island.
In the current times, Buddhism plays a central role in the lives of the natives here. Various sites were related to Buddhism and now stand as the Buddhist heritage in Sri Lanka. It includes the following destinations:
Anuradhapura which stands as the most prominent Buddhist city on the island comprises the fascinating temples and stupas of the thirteenth century. It gives an enigmatic religious experience to pilgrims.
Kandy’s Temple of The Tooth Relic is the prominent site where the sacred tooth of Buddha is kept. It is said that the tooth relic was taken from the funeral pyre of our very own ‘the awakened soul’ – Buddha. The tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka and kept at this place in Kandy which now stands as the most prominent temple of Dalda Maligawa. The tooth was hidden in the hair of the princess at the time it was being smuggled into the island.
Since then, it took about 100 years to construct this magnificent temple starting from 1687 to 1782 (completion). The pilgrims can witness the daily rituals that are performed three times a day i.e. – 4:30 – 10.30 – 18.30 – respectively. The pilgrims should keep in mind that dresses above the knees are not allowed inside the temple and they should not wear shoes in the temple premises.
Adam’s Peak is the conical mountain on the island. This 2,243 meters (7,359 ft) tall peak is known to be famous for the Sri Pada. This Sri Pada is the “sacred footprint” which is said to be of the Buddha in the Buddhist traditions. However, in Hindu traditions it is said to be the footprint of lord Shiva, and in Muslim tradition that of Adam. Therefore, it is visited by all religions throughout the years.