The Formation of the Mahamegha Garden

Though many attempts have been made to re-construct the City of Anuradhapura and its associations by means of modern research, hardly any writer has attempted to do so according to the historical evidence in Mahawansa and other kindred records. Most of these authors have failed to grasp the fact that there existed in the days of antiquity two distinct cities ; viz;—Anuradhapura the political Capital and Anuradhapura the Sacred City. As it is found absolutely necessary to supply the public with an authentic record of matters relating to the sacred city of Anuradhapura, we have undertaken to write the following with the hope that this book would enlighten its readers on the history of a city held sacred by the Buddhist world for twenty-two centuries.

In the year 176 after the parinibbana of the Lord Buddha, i.e., 368 b.c., Mutasiva succeeded his father. King Panduka Abhaya who founded the City of Anuradhapura.* King Mutasiva who continued Anuradhapura as the Capital of Lanka formed the Mahamegha Pleasure Garden. This garden, according to the Mahavansa was thoroughly adorned with fruit and flower bearing trees of every description. Just at the time when this beautiful garden was being laid out, an unseasonable heavy fall of rain took place. From this circumstance the garden was called Mahamegha, which denotes in Sinhalese a heavy shower of rain (maha, great; megha, shower of rain).

This royal pleasure garden was situated to the south of the city and outside its limits.

The statement in “The Ruined Cities of Ceylon” “This garden, of twenty square miles in extent, was in the centre of the royal city” is incorrect. Its author was committing an error in giving publicity to such a statement without any evidence. This is a point of high importance not only from an archaeological but also from a religious point of view.

The fact that that delightful royal garden was situated outside the limits of the Capital is well established from the descriptions of the visit of the great Arahat Mahinda Thera to Anuradhapura, as well as from the various religious functions that were held during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa. The same fact is maintained in the records of the travels of that famous Chinese pilgrim Fa-hian who visited Lanka 1,600 years ago.

Malwatu or Kadambe Oya, which is associated with the history of Anuradhapura, is a well-known river and is looked on by all those who visit Anuradhapura with great interest. It was originally called Kadambe Oya. On account of its close proximity to the garden it was re-named Malwatu or the “ flower-garden ” river. Malwatte being the popular name of the pleasure garden.

Here it should be noted that it formed the eastern boundary of the garden.

It may be of interest to state that while in the third century before Christ, the Sinhalese kings had formed besides the Mahamegha Garden another garden called Nandana, adjoining the Capital, the British Government of Ceylon in the twentieth century has failed to keep up the Anuradhapura botanical gardens opened about fifteen years ago.

* On account of its having been the settlement of Prince Anuradha and because it was founded under the constellation Anura, the city was called Anuradhapura. King Panduka Abhaya had organized municipal reforms in that city. There were 500 coolies to scavenge the streets, 200 latrine coolies, ISO cemetery coolies, &c. – Mahavansa p. 43.