Located approximately 80 kilometers outside of the town of Mannar and 40 kilometers northwest of Anuradhapura city, Thanthirimale is an old village in Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura District that is known for its ancient temple: the Thanthirimale Raja Maha Vihara. This temple is considered an important and central part of the village, having been built around the 3rd century BC.
Legend has it that when the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (a fig tree that was grown from a branch of the ancient tree under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment) was brought to Sri Lanka from India as a sapling, it was kept for one night at Thanthirimale before continuing its journey to Anuradhapura. It is further believed that a branch from the sapling was taken and planted at Thanthirimale in commemoration, and that this therefore may be the first Sri Maha Bodhi to be planted in the country.
In the 1960s, Buddhist monks reestablished the temple. Today, the ruins surrounding the temple can be explored, featuring two impressive stone statues and several stone ponds.In order to best enjoy a visit to Thanthirimale, and vacationers should aim to journey through between the months of July and September, and between December and February, for ideal weather conditions. The summer periods in the area between April and June can reach exceptionally high temperatures, and so it is recommended to avoid visiting during this time.