It is the 5th century AD and a man, a very special sculptor, takes his first blow at a jungle rockface ... a few miles away an enormous tank or lake is being constructed ... and the king, Dhatusena, is in Anuradhapura where Buddhism unites the Singalese people in a common purpose and gives them a vision of this life and those to come ...
Today, you can still stand where the king once stood at Aukana and look up at the Buddha statue, 12 metres high, carved from the living rock. And you can feel the serenity as the Buddha's rock hand gives the same blessing as the day the statue was finished.
Now, as through so many centuries, the monks gather the morning flowers and offer them in front of the statue as the sun creeps down its beatifully preserved form to the lotus plinth.
And, on special days, there are still the ceremonies - including one involving local children who parade from the village,
up the hill and before the Buddha at the
Aukana Rajamaha Viharaya (the temple complex).
The complex has a quiet feeling of history brought to modern life with the presence of the children and adults of the community who use the school, big enough for perhaps 100 children at any one time, pray under the Bodhi tree, linger on the concourse that enjoys a clear view of the Buddha and the ceremonies around its feet...
The Aukana Buddha is the most spectacular in Sri Lanka and as rivetingly interesting any anywhere in the world.
It is the one that Sri Lanka's government take visiting heads of state and dignitaries. But on most days, there are not many visitors and you will be able to linger in the serenity.
You will get a warm welcome from the monks, teachers and children - they are always pleased to see visitors.
And you leave with a feeling of having
an unforgettable experience with the
Buddha statue from 1,500 years ago.
Dress: Please wear modest clothes when visiting the Aukana Buddha and any
other temple in Sri Lanka