The setting of Arankele Monastery

Situated on a forested hillside, Arankele Monastery dates back to the 6th century. The monastery is nestled in a densely wooded terrain adorned with magnificent hardwood trees. Clearings and openings amidst the trees reveal the ongoing efforts to unearth and restore the monastery's ruins.

The Rock Caves of Arankele Monastery

One of the notable features of Arankele Monastery is a cluster of natural rock caves located on the slopes of the hill. These caves once provided shelter and served as meditation spaces for monastic monks. While the exterior of the caves appears rough, the interior walls are meticulously plastered with lime, creating a serene atmosphere for spiritual practices.

The caves at Arankele Monastery served as a refuge for a sect of recluse monks who sought isolation and seclusion. Among the ruins, an intriguing structure identified is the Jantagara, a hot water bath with impressive dimensions of 100 feet in length and 60 feet in breadth. Additionally, remnants of grinding stones used for preparing herbal medicines in the past can be found. The ruins also include meditating promenades, ponds, and meandering pathways.

Architectural Marvels

The Arankele Monastery reveals fascinating architectural marvels from its ancient past. Stone slabs with inscriptions in Brahmi script have been discovered, shedding light on the existence of meditation halls, stone-faced double-platform structures, and ambulatories. The dual platforms, aligned on an east-west axis, feature an entrance porch bridged by a giant monolith. The smaller double venues give the impression of being divided into cells, possibly used by the monks for meditation, ceremonies, and teaching.

The architecture of Arankele Monastery aligns with the principles of severe simplicity and austere religious practices. Consequently, this site is absent from decorative elements commonly found in urban monasteries, such as stupas, shrines, and statues. However, a unique exception to this minimalist approach is the presence of urinal stones decorated with intricate carvings. The purpose of these decorated urinal stones remains a subject of speculation.

Hot Water Baths and Ayurvedic Heritage

A notable feature of Arankele Monastery is the presence of a large hot water pond, believed to be the largest in Sri Lanka. This pond, measuring approximately 100 feet in length and 60 feet in breadth, is a testament to the monastery's emphasis on self-care and well-being. Additionally, the discovery of grinding stones indicates the presence of an Ayurvedic hospital within the sanctuary, where herbal medicines were prepared and administered.

In conclusion, Arankele Monastery in Sri Lanka provides a glimpse into the ancient forest monastic life. Its rock caves, architectural ruins, and natural beauty are a testament to the spiritual heritage of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, exploring this archaeological site offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the historical and cultural richness of the region.

よくある質問 (FAQ)

1. How can I reach Arankele Monastery? To reach Arankele Monastery from Colombo, you can take the Colombo-Kurunegala-Ibbagamuwa-Moragolla road. The monastery is located approximately 117 kilometres away from Colombo.

2. What can I expect to see at Arankele Monastery? At Arankele Monastery, you can explore the ancient rock caves used by monks, meditation halls, double platform structures, and the remains of the Jantagara (hot water bath). You'll also witness the serene natural surroundings and lush forested areas.

3. Are there any specific guidelines for visiting Arankele Monastery? While visiting Arankele Monastery, it is essential to respect the historical and religious significance of the site. Therefore, testing modestly and maintaining a peaceful demeanour within the monastery premises is advisable.

4. Are there any guided tours available at Arankele Monastery? Yes, guided tours are available at Arankele Monastery. Knowledgeable guides can provide insights into the monastery's history, architectural features, and practices of the monks who inhabited the caves.

5. Can I take photographs at Arankele Monastery? Photography is generally permitted at Arankele Monastery, but it is advisable to inquire about any specific restrictions or guidelines from the monastery staff or guides before capturing images.