Pilgrimage to Bhikkhuni Sacred Sites in Sri Lanka

Pilgrimage to Bhikkhuni Sacred Sites in Sri Lanka

You are invited join me on Pilgrimage

The opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka has arisen and so I have imagined a wonderful pilgrimage to sacred places and with the guidance of my teacher Bhikkhuni Ayya Tathaloka Mahatheri, put together a list of some places I’d like to visit.
The list of Sacred Places suggested to me here on this google map, and described in more detail below.
I wish to pay my respects to and venerate those Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni ancestors who have made it possible for all of us to receive DhammaVinaya today.
I am very keen to meet local Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis and visit with them for several reasons.
  1. to meet and spend time with Bhikkhuni Sanga
  2. to find suitable Bhikkhunis to invite to Australia to help me serve my community
  3. to discover where some of the over  6,000 Bhikkhunis given Upasampada by Rangiri Dambulla are living.

Some years ago my Teacher Bhikkhuni Ayya Tathaloka Mahatheri and Bhikkhuni Companions Ayya Adhimutti and Ayya Karunika travelled around Sri Lanka visiting sites of profound significance to the re-emerging Bhikkhuni Sangha. She posted many inspirational pictures and writings about these special sacred places.

Whenever dayakas asked me “have you ever been to Sri Lanka” I would think of these special places when I replied that I would like to visit that golden island one day,

My granddaughter has agreed to care for my Mum from now until January and so I now have the opportunity to make this pilgrimage to Sri Lanka to visit, meditate at and experience these places that Ayya and others have recommended.

Colombo Region  – 1st & 2nd  weeks of December

Kelaniya, just to the north of Colombo

Honouring and valuing our Bhikkhuni Sangha, the world famous picture of Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Mahatheri bringing the Bodhi Tree and ordination for women to Sri Lanka has long held a special place in my heart.

For the treasure of Upasampada that I have received, I would appreciate the oportunity to venerate her memory and the memory of those who came after her.

  1. Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, where you can see in person the Solias Mendis’ great most famous mural painting of Sanghamitta Therī’s arrival, and also the magnificent painting of Sanghamittā Therī’s ordination of Queen Anulā.
  2. shrine to “Viharamahadevi” to whom we owe so much for the preservation of the Early Buddhist Teachings and Sangha in Sri Lanka. She was a niece of Anulā Therī, and became a great bhikkhunī historian herself.
    We should think of Sanghamittā Therī -> Anulā Therī -> Sagaradānā Therī (Abi Savera, Vihāramahādevī) as our early lineage of great bhikkhunī benefactors on the Sri Lankan side.
  3. a small stupa of my late most venerable Bhikkhunī Upasampadā Upajjhāya Bhante Havanpola Ratanasāra Nāyaka Mahāthera, at the Sri Ratana Vihara which he founded. He contributed so much to the revival of Theravāda Bhikkhunī Ordination.

Horana outside Colombo

Many people are not aware that there are many Bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka.  I would like to visit these modern organisations to discover what support and training systems have been and are being put in place for Bhikkhunis.

  1. the Sakyadhita Sri Lanka center on the Bolgoda Lake at Horana (outside Colombo).
  2. the Ayya Khema International Meditation Centre, which was also at Horana. My understanding is that is now no more, since Ven Bhikkhuni Kusuma has passed away.
  3. Very nearby in the Horana area, there is the temple of Ven. Bhikkhunī Darśikā Mahātherī, who was one of the first group of five bhikkhunīs to come to California to ordain at the same time as Ayyā Khemā in 1988.

Dekanduwala south of Colombo

  1. the international bhikkhunī training centre at Dekanduwala, Dekanduwala bhikkuni senasanaya, Batuwita Road, Batuwita, Sri Lanka

Between Kandy and Colombo

  1. Mirigama Vihara Khandha Aranya, a small forest hermitage under the patronage of Mithirigale Bhante Dhammajiva, supportive of foreign bhikkhunīs;

Kandy Region  – 3rd week of December

Everyone I have spoken to has recommended visiting the Tooth relic. Certainly any religious pilgrimage to Sri Lanka could not be complete without the opportunity to venerate and worship at the worlds most famous sacred relic. I would like to experience the special religious energy of paying respects and meditating in a place that has over two millenia of continuous worship.

  1. Temple of the Tooth Relic of Vijayabahu, Polonnaruwa

Also The fabulous cave paintings of Rangiri Dambula are often recommended, but for me it is most special as the place that over 6,000 women have received Upasampada in modern times. Paying respects to those most venerable Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis who are giving this most sacred gift of ordination to the world is important to me. To make this opportunity for merit feels very special.

  1. Rangiri Dambula Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple, Kandy – Jaffna Highway, Dambulla,

Bhikkhuni Adhimutti Theri will be travelling to Sri Lanka from New Zealand after Vassa and being in the area, it would be good to visit her and renew our connection as Sangha.

  1. Dhammatiriya Hermitage, NZ Dhamma trust.

I had thought to contact Bhante Mahindasara Thero (who I had come to know through ASBV) for the  opportunity to pay respects as well as request accomodation from him while we are in the area.

  1. Bhante Mahindasara

Bhikkhuni Nirodhamala’s Vihara — 4th week of December

Bhikkuni Nirodhamala and I have been corresponding for several weeks. She has invited me to stay with her at her vihara and also offered to meet me at the airport and accompany my on my travels as a Bhikkhuni companion. It is my intention to get to know Bhikkhuni Nirodhamala with a view to inviting her to visit us in Australia to be my companion Bhikkhuni and assist with teaching.

Anuradhapura Region  (North of Kandy) —  1st week of January

  1. Sanghamittā Therī’s cremation stupa ruins (adjacent to Thuparamaya, and visit Thuparamaya of course as well),
  2. Queen Vajirā’s bhikkhunī upassāya foundation ruins just between the two (it is the last known gift of monastery to the original Theravāda Bhikkhunī Sangha in Sri lanka)
  3. Anulā Therī’s relic stupa founded by Viharamahadevi at the ruins of the ancient monastery where Anulā Therī and the first Sinhalese bhikkhunīs’ ordained (aka “Anuladevi Cetiya,” just outside of Mihintale, and visit Mihintale and Mahinda Thero’s stupa as well).
  4. The Pankuliya Asokaramaya ancient bhikkhunīs’ monastery ruins (at the north end of the Anuradhapura Sacred City district)
  5. the original Jayasri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura

On the way to Jaffna from Anuradhapura –  2nd week of January

  1. “Sanghamittā’s Rest” at Thanthirimale (Tantrimale) and the most wonderful ancient Bodhi there—one of the first “eight fruits” (Asthapal Bodhiya).
  2. Dambukola Pathuna shrine to Sanghamittā Therī’s arrival to Sri Lanka. And the newly re-established cetiya at one of her stops along the way from Anuradhapura.  QWPV+J73, AB21, Dabakolapatuna, Sri Lanka

For the love of our ancient awakened women in Buddhism and the ancient trees touched by their awakening, and that of the Buddha and the noble arahant Sangha –

If you would like to support my trip to Sri Lanka the following costs could be sponsored or part sponsored:

  • Return Flight to Sri Lanka from Adelaide for Ayya Santacari around $3,000 during peak holiday season
  • Travel expenses for 2 Bhikkhunis whilst in Sri Lanka for 6 weeks
    around $500 (hopefully less than this)


Also if we would like to bring Bhikkhuni Nirodhamala to Adelaide for a visit after peak holiday season:

  • Return flight from Sri Lanka to Adelaide for Ayya Nirodhamala
    around $2000 after school holidays finish.


BSSA Bank Account details

BSB 633-000 (Bendigo Bank)
Account: 1605 13 859
Buddhist Society of South Australia

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