President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interest in the religious and cultural revival, as part of the post-Independence resurgence, is enormous as evident from his attention to the minutest detail with regard to the implementation of the Maha Vihara excavation and the development of the Anuradhapura Sacred City, closely questioning the officials displaying his knowledge ability.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a statement, has said: 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 Narendra Modi with an English copy of the Tripitaka.

Other development initiatives in the Anuradhapura Sacred Site region should be put into action based on this Maha Viharaya Development Plan.

During the time when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was Local Government Minister in 1947, 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.

New Law

The Department of Archaeology 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 ten 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 Bandaranayake, 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 programme. 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 Kusinara and Sanchi were built. Such locations have been constructed in Hindu countries to draw Buddhist tourists.

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 Pirivena education. The historical City of Anuradhapura will gain from these endeavours.

Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera 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 centre of Theravada Buddhism in accordance with the international relations that existed in history.

In 1948 S.W.R.D. 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 National Physical Planning Department, Archeology Department, 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, he said.

Anuradhapura Sacred City was founded by Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike with the assistance of Nissanka Wijeyeratne, who was Government Agent of Anuradhapura District from 1958 to 1962.

At a time when the City of Anuradhapura was in a period of historic transition, the New Town of Anuradhapura was being built, and the residents of the old were being transferred to the new town. It was a time of some tension and of excitement. He managed this process of change with courage and remarkable political skills.