After bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda in 250 BC, Emperor Ashoka in India sent his daughter Sanghamitta to the island with a sapling of the Sacred Bodhi obtained from the main stem of the bodhi tree in India under which Buddha obtained enlightenment. King Devanampiya Tissa received this branch and planted it ceremoniously at the present site which is in Maha Megha Uyana – Mahamewna Park or Royal Park.
Within a short period of time since the bringing of the sapling to Sri Lanka, the original Bodhi tree in India was destroyed by Queen Thishyarakkha, a queen of Emperor Ashoka who was observing a different faith. The saplings sprouted from its roots were destroyed twice due to hostilities and natural disasters. It is a fourth generation Bodhi tree that dwells in India presently. But, this southern branch of the original Bodhi tree living in Anuradhapura, under which Gautama Buddha was seated with his back against it, is the only sacred relic in the whole world comparable to the living Buddha, which has been sanctified by the touch of the Lord Buddha and was subjected to the homage of the esteemed one himself.
It is the spiritual heart of Anuradhapura, protected by a golden railing adorned with colourful prayer flags offered by pilgrims. Although Anuradhapura was eventually abandoned as the capital of the country and taken over by the jungle, the pious people tendered to the tree and protected it through time making the Sri Jaya Maha Bodhi the most sacred and venerated site in Sri Lanka. Its importance is not restricted to the Buddhist world but also to the outside world who celebrates its fame as the oldest recorded living tree in the world.
A fee of LKR Rs 200/- is priced to visit this site.