Sela Cetiya- The Stupa on a high rock
Did you know that Sela Cetiya was the place where Buddha meditated on his third visit to Sri Lanka? Situated 8 miles from the ancient district of Anuradhapura, Mihintale is the place where Sela Cetiya is situated. Mihintale is said to be the ‘Cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.’ It is said that Arhant Mahinda met King Devanam Piyatissa in Mihintale. The king was out hunting when they came across, and such was Arhant Mahinda’s aura that he converted the king to Buddhism. Somewhere around in the 3rd century, it happened that this place became a permanent residence to Arhant Mahinda and 3000 Buddhist Monks. The Mihintale Rock has numerous shrines and caves. There is a stairway of 1840 steps from the bottom to the top of the rock. The Sela Cetiya is situated in this temple complex. Sela Cetiya enshrines the Urna Lome, the sacred hair relic from the eyebrows of Buddha.
Sela Cetiya is one of the ‘Solosmasthana’ which means the sacred 16 places of worship for Buddhists.
The Origin and Construction
Dagoba was constructed by king Lajjitissa somewhere around in the 1st century. Stone was used in the construction of the platform and Stupa; hence the name ‘Sela Cetiya’. One can find moonstone and Guard-stone at its entrance. The guradstone is found at the entrance of many aramic complexes which used to be a Hindu Architectural practice of placing a pair of the deity at the entrance of the buildings for the divine protection. Stupa’s base has a diameter of 11.3m.
Things to do
Since Sela Cetiya is situated 8 miles outside of the ancient district of Anuradhapura, one can visit these exquisite sites while exploring Sela Cetiya in Mihintale:
Said to be constructed at the spot where Mahinda converted the kind to Buddhism, this Stupa could be reached by trekking through the stairway. Nearby there is a statue of the king in his traditional dress. The meaning of Ambasthale is ‘mango tree’ which is the symbol of the riddle that was used by Mahinda in testing the king’s intelligence.
The Buddha Statue and the Tree:
Moving a little more upwards through the stairway, one can find a white Buddha statue standing stark against the greenery. It is the sight for sore eyes. Moving a little left one can find a Bodhi tree which is said to be one of the oldest trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is easily spotted due to the railing around it which is adorned with the prayer flags.
The largest Dagoba in Mihintale is said to be enshrining the relics of Mahinda. Just a little far from Mahaseya Dagoba one can find the original Stupa which is smaller in size and is said to be one of the oldest Stupas in Sri Lanka. There are two more small structures around it, one is a temple where Budhha is lying in reclining position and the other is a small devale where one can find the statues of Ganesha, Vishnu, Murugan (Skanda) and Saman.
Standing at the top of the Rock, one can see the beautiful lake and city of Anuradhapura from above.
How to reach?
To reach Mihintale one needs to reach Colombo first either by air or by land transportation. From Colombo, one can take a train or take the bus to reach Anuradhapura. From Anuradhapura, one can take a cab or taxi and reach Mihintale which is just 8 miles away.
Where to Sleep? (Not For Now)
Where to eat?
Roaming around such beautiful places may make you feel hungry soon enough. We suggest you eat at these cafes and restaurants to make your trip to Sela Cetiya more satisfactory:
Surrounded by serene greenery and equipped with sturdy wooden tables, this place offers your cheap food. Come here to taste real Sri Lankan cuisine.
Heritage Rest House:
This place has a restaurant inside. All the woodwork makes you feel ecstatic as you enter this place. Though their food is average if not super tasty, it is value for money.
Though you will not find much about this restaurant on the internet, this place offers a large variety of quality food. Since the options are very limited in Mihintale, you can consider trying this one out.
Rice and Curry, Kottu, String Hoppers, Avocado Juice and Noodles are the specialities here. Buzzing with great a many reviews, this place is a promise of good food for your money.
If you are willing to travel 8 miles more for the food, then you can explore a great number of restaurants in Anuradhapura.
Situated on a mountain and having a beautiful lake by its side, Sela Cetiya makes for a splendid destination to spend your day out exploring the roots of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and experiencing the beauty of deep forests. There is not much information available about this place on the internet, so it often comes in the add-on experiences if you are visiting Anuradhapura. This place is completely a different phenomenon in itself. Visiting this place is visiting the nature and toil of the human beings coming together in a beautiful amalgamation to represent a sight unseen before. Being secluded from Anuradhapura, this place does not attract as much crowd, so it could be a great seclusion in the lap of nature for those what want to explore Sri Lanka in all its beauty. View from the summit of the mountain hosting Sela Cetiya is majestic.
So when you are in Sri Lanka next time, visit this one of the sixteen worship places of Buddhists in the world to feel the divine presence of Buddha’s aura. You will leave from here with a spiritual feeling. The route to Stupa is accessible from Anuradhapura throughout the year.