The Mahāvihāra, or Great Monastery, was the monastery founded by Mahinda, who introduced Buddhism into Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE. The monastery was situated just beyond the southern wall of Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. When the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hsien visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century, there were 1500 monks in the Mahāvihāra. For many centuries it was a centre of religion, culture and learning. The interpretation of the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka called Theravāda Buddhism evolved in the Mahāvihāra from the 1st century BCE onwards. In later centuries, monks of the Mahāvihāra tradition established Theravāda Buddhism in Burma and Thailand from where it later spread to Cambodia and Laos. The Mahāvihāra was abandoned after the capital of Sri Lanka was shifted to Polonnaruwa in the 9th century.