President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed the officials to expedite the Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan, giving priority to the Maha Viharaya Development Plan.
The President also mentioned that a Committee consisting of a team of experts from the National Physical Planning Department (NPPD), the Department of Archeology, and Universities will be appointed to implement the Maha Viharaya Development Plan.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe mentioned this while joining a discussion held yesterday (22) afternoon at the Bomalu Viharaya, Anuradhapura on the Maha Viharaya Development Plan and Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan.
The discussion was held under the Chairmanship of the Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of Nuwara Kalaviya most Venerable Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thero.
The President remarked that it is regrettable that we, who are entitled to a proud civilization and history, are not paying adequate attention to it when the countries of the world continue to emphasize their historical civilization.
The President questioned the officials about the identification of the Maha Viharaya complex’s boundaries and the status of the excavation work. He also inquired about the number of archaeological officers employed in the Maha Viharaya’s excavation and the development of the Anuradhapura Sacred Site, the composition, and the allocated provisions.
The President stressed the necessity to correctly implement the Maha Viharaya Development Plan by immediately addressing the flaws and the fact that he could not be content with the ongoing efforts.
Also, President Ranil Wickremesinghe mentioned that a new legal system tailored to Anuradhapura is expected to be brought in to preserve the city’s historical legacy.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe further commented:
Sigiriya and Anuradhapura can be considered as our heritage. Sigiriya is our greatest achievement and our civilization lies in this city of Anuradhapura. The Maha Viharayaya takes precedence there. The Maha Viharaya is the headquarters of Pali Buddhism. This time, during my visit to India, I presented Prime Minister Modi with an English copy of the Tripiṭaka.
Other development initiatives in the Anuradhapura Sacred Site region should be put into action based on this Maha Viharaya Development Plan. During Mr. Bandaranaike’s rule, the Anuradhapura Sacred Site was initiated. But up until now, we haven’t been able to complete this properly.
India began the construction of Nalanda University in the 1990s. Today, Nalanda University has been established as a major University. Many countries made contributions to it. Pakistan, a Muslim country, also built Taxila in the same way. Despite the fact that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation, we were unable to finish the Maha Viharaya’s construction. We should all feel guilty about it.
The Department of Archeology is sending me letters asking me to protect the archaeological sites. We are ready for it. But we must remember the basic work of this Maha Viharaya. A new city can be built at any time. But we have to proceed with the excavation work of the Maha Viharaya. These activities should be carried forward on the advice of the Maha Sangha of the Atamasthana.
A new law that will apply to Anuradhapura should be prepared. Additionally, a Committee is anticipated to be formed to carry out this activity with the concerned officials. Despite the existence of Departments and Corporations, this work is not overseen by a single administrative officer. We should focus on that as well.
If we start this project now, we can achieve some progress in the next 10 years, but it will take at least 25 years to complete it. When these operations begin, Sri Lanka will develop into an archaeological hub.
Malwathu Oya is where the Sinhalese civilization first emerged. Before beginning the Malwathu Oya project, excavations at Maha Viharaya should be completed in the following two years. Retired archaeologists can be contacted if necessary. These initiatives are connected.
We have successfully completed the Sigiriya project with Senaka Bandaranaike, Roland Silva, and Shiran Deraniyagala. We should develop the city of Anuradhapura in the same way. When I went to Paris, I also discussed it with UNESCO.
We can also get assistance from Rajarata University in this regard. This area has to be developed so that visitors can remain for a few days. Therefore, it is important to prioritize and advance this program. Once this is underway, we will receive support from around the world to carry out the project.
Anuradhapura has a rich history. While Other countries emphasize their historical civilizations we have not paid adequate attention to it. If Dimbulagala excavations were done today, tourists from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos would come to visit the place. Let’s first finish the Anuradhapura work.
We should be proud of our history and civilization. We should showcase our history to the world. Therefore, if we develop our heritage, we will be able to reap high benefits from tourism.
A showroom by the name ‘Rajarata Civilization’ will be built here. It is necessary to establish a separate location for Buddhist culture. I also spoke with the Indian Prime Minister about how Kusinarawa and Sanchi were built. Such locations have been constructed in Hindu countries to draw Buddhist tourists. But this is not the case right now.
Additionally, we are now discussing the establishment of the Maha Vihara University. We intend to carry out those tasks in-depth in accordance with the old Piriven education. The historical city of Anuradhapura will gain from these endeavors.
Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of Nuwara Kalaviya most Venerable Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thero As a leader who recognized the value of Anuradhapura, your efforts to re-establish the Maha Viharaya will be blessed by the Maha Sangha. Also, we express our appreciation for your desire to exchange Buddhist philosophy with other countries of the world as a center of Theravada Buddhism in accordance with the international relations that existed in history.
In 1948 Mr. Bandaranaike gazetted and developed the Anuradhapura Sacred Site. President J.R. Jayewardene along with the Central Cultural Fund worked to restore Jethavanaramaya and Abhayagiriya temples. But no one’s attention has been focused on other temple complexes of the Atamasthana.
In the Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan, it seems that no attention has been paid to Lankaramaya. Therefore, I remind the NPPD, the Department of Archeology, and the Central Cultural Fund to prepare a proper plan for the development of Lankaramaya within two weeks and include it in the Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan. Otherwise, this Anuradhapura Sacred Site Development Plan will basically fail.
Also, I see it as a work of great national importance if a system of rules and regulations particular to this land can be prepared and gazetted to protect this sacred Anuradhapura city for the future.
Adhikarana Sangha Nayake of Malwatte Chapter of Siam Nikaya for North Central Province and Incumbent of Lankarama Temple Venerable Pandit Ralapanawe Dhammajothi Thero
We as Maha Sangha offer our blessings to the President on his accession as the Maha Viharaya on completing one year since assuming office as the President. When the President won the election in 2001 and became the Prime Minister, when he came to worship the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, our Atamasthanadhipathi Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thero brought a proposal to renovate the second golden fence (Ranveta) of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.
At that time, our current President, the then Prime Minister, said that he should appoint a Committee for this purpose. He named it as the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Development Committee. The work commenced in 2002 under the Chairmanship of former Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. K.H.J. Wijayadasa. A meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s Office that year. The President continued to advocate for the development of the Maha Viharaya throughout those times as well. I commend him today for visiting the Maha Viharaya in his capacity as President and speaking with the authorities on the development of the Maha Viharaya.
According to the Maha Viharaya Development Plan, the proposed works will take two years to complete at a cost of an estimated Rs. 555 million, Director General of Archeology Mrs. Pradeepa Serasinghe stated.
Following this discussion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe also joined to observe some shrines connected to the Maha Vihara complex. The President first visited the Southern Stupa and afterward visited the Thuparama temple complex to observe the continuing excavation operations there as well.
Chancellor of the Rajarata University & incumbent of Ruwanweliseya Venerable Ithalawetunawewe Gnanathilake Thero, Incumbent of Abhayagiriya Temple Venerable Dr Kalanchiye Rathanasiri Thero, Incumbent of Tuparamaya Temple Venerable Kahalle Gnaninda Thero, Incumbent of Mirisawetiya Temple Royal Pandit Venerable Dr. Welihene Sobhitha Thero, Ven. Godamune Pannaseeha Thero representing Abhayagiriya Project, Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs SomaratneVidanapathirana, Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Land H. M. B. P. Herath, Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing W.S. Sathyananda, Secretary of the Ministry of Irrigation U.D. C. Jayalal, Additional Secretary to the President Kamal Pushpakumara, North Central Province Chief Secretary Chandrasiri Bandara, Anuradhapura District Secretary Mr. J.M.J.K.Jayasundara, Director General of National Physical Planning Department, Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs, Director General of Central Cultural Fund, Land Commissioner General, Conservator General, Director General of Wildlife Conservation Department, Director General of Irrigation Department, Director General of Mahaweli Authority, Director General of Urban Development Authority, Director General of Road Development Authority, officials including North Central Province Land Commissioner, Nuwaragam Palatha Central Divisional Secretary, Urban Development Authority Provincial Director, Pooja Bhumi Development Director participated in this discussion.
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