Following the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka over 2000 years ago, Sanghamitta, the daughter of ancient Indian emperor Ashoka, landed at the ancient port of Dambakola Patuna with a sacred sapling from the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. The Sri Lankan King Devanampiyatissa later used this sapling to plant the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura, which today holds the honour of being the oldest surviving human-planted tree in the world. A temple was built here to commemorate the arrival of the sapling, however no remnants of this ancient landmark exist today. The Sri Lankan Navy however, has since built a new temple named the Sri Sangamitta Viharaya, and is one of the key Buddhist landmarks of the northern peninsula.
Dambakola Patuna can be reached via road on a 45-minute journey from Jetwing Jaffna. The Sri Sangamitta Viharaya is situated on a coastline that skirts the northern edge of Sri Lanka, overlooking the azure waters of the Palk Strait. On a clear day, you may even be able to see the edge of India’s southern coastline.