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Sacred Film Locations: Bodhi Tree, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Written on May 10, 2017

Bodhi Tree

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a Sacred Fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is said to be a cutting from the historical Bodhi tree of Bodhgaya, India, under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest recorded human-planted tree in the world.

These days there are several bodhi trees at this location. The oldest and holiest stands on the top platform. It is propped up on a frame of iron crutches and protected by a golden railing swathed in colourful prayer flags offered by the pilgrims.

Nearby palaces, monasteries and stupas of note include Ruwanweliseya, Thuparama, Jetavanarama, and Abhayagiri.

Each years, thousands of devotees come to make offerings, particularly on poya (full moon) days and weekends. April and December are particularly busy months as pilgrims converge on the site for snana puja.

Sunset is a beautiful time to film and photograph.

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a holy place. Remove shoes and hats before walking around sites. Dress respectfully. Women’s shoulders should be covered. Do not turn your back toward any representation of the Buddha. When walking around a Buddhist object make sure your right hand (considered your clean hand) is the hand that points toward the object.

Film Permits

Film permits must be acquired from the relevant authorities at the complex. Generally, permission to film for commercial purposes is not permitted. Documentary projects filming for religious or educational reasons may be allowed to film, providing they do not have large footprints or disrupt the day to day activity of monks and visitors. Be careful not to photograph people in front of images of the Buddha.

Transport & Accommodation

Colombo to Anuradhapura is a 4hr drive. There is also a train service from Colombo to Anuradhapura which takes around 5hrs. Anuradhapura is a well visited location, so there are several good accommodation options to choose from.

Sri Lanka Film Crew & Production Services

If you are looking to film in Anuradhapura and require a local fixer to assist with arranging permission to film, local transport, accommodation, and interview subjects, please contact us. If you would like to hire a local Sri Lankan film crew such as a director, photographer, cameraman, or DoP to film or photograph your project, our local team is able to help.