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Brazen Palace, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

The Brazen Palace was constructed in 161-137 AD by king Dutthagamani, who presented it to the Mahasangha monastic order. The roof was made of copper (this is where the palace name comes from). It was built on the place of former chapter house consecrated by one of Gautama Buddha's adherents. Not far from the palace the Alms hall of Mahavihara monks was situated. In the western part of the ruins there was a 14 meter rice boat which could feed about 3 000 monks.

Each of 9 floors of the palace is meant for monks in different stages of spiritual enlightenment. On the first floor there were those who stood on the beginning of this path. And on the last floor lived the monks who reached the last level - Arahat.

The palace in mentioned in Mahavamasa, the Sri Lanka's great chronicle: "A thousand well-arranged chambers were in the pasada, overlaid with various gems and adorned with windows (" The Great Chronicle" - historical poem telling us about Sri Lanka kings, written in Pali. The authorship is ascribed to monk Mahaname from Anuradhapura). The king had a gem-pavilion set up in the middle. It was adorned with pillars consisting of precious stone, on which were figures of lions, tigers and so forth, and shapes of devatas. A bordering of pearl network ran round the edge of the pavilion and thereon was a coral vedika" (Ch.27). In Brazen Palace there was a throne made from ebony with a crystal seat: it was Buddha's place. On the back there were images of Sun (made from gold), Moon (silver) and Stars (pearls). According to the ancient legend the building was so high that it could be seen even from the sea (Indian Ocean, distance from the palace is no less than 109 km).

In 15 years after the construction the palace burned down and as a result engraved insets were destroyed. During the palace reconstruction 2 floors from nine were "lost". The palace underwent many other modifications during the reign of different kings. After each of them the number of floors in the palace decreased. The last renovation was made in 12th century. Today there are only 1600 pillars (40smx40sm in cut) and two floors left.

If one doesn't know the history and the place of the Brazen Palace, it is easy to pass it by- the fenced territory, where only many small pillars can be seen. Two monkeys chased by pack of dogs attracted my attention when walking along the place. Only then I noticed the two storey building surrounded with many columns and learned the palace history. One could hardly imagine that it was that very imposing Brazen Palace, cloister of thousands of monks. This is the best proof of Buddha's words that everything is changing in this world, isn't it?

Sacred city of Anuradhapura, along with its’ historical monuments, is listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By Sona Gasparian,

Photos by Narek Bakhtamyan


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