Mulgirigala

Posted on June 02, 2012  by admin  in Places of Worship   10 Comments »
Mulgirigala

The most imposing rock temple in the south of the island is situated on an isolated rock 210m high, rising almost vertically from the surrounding forest. Terraces are found across the sloped southern side of this rock, where cave temples nestle beneath ledges of overhanging rock. The ancient origins of this temple are unclear, but it is learned from Brahmi scriptures carved into the rock that this has been the site of a Buddhist monastery for millennia. The general belief is that Mulgirigalla Vihara was founded around 130 BC and has been a place of tranquillity and sanctity ever since.

Buduruwagala

Posted on June 02, 2012  by admin  in Places of Worship   1 Comment »

Buduruwagala is a place of historical and archeological interest for its tall Buddha statue sculptured out of the rock. No mention of this site has been found in any ancient records and even its original name is not known. The modern name of this site, Buduruwagala, means ‘rock of Buddhist sculptures’. Nothing is known about the history of Buduruwagala or why someone chose to carve these huge images into the rocks in such a remote place. However, it is believed that the statues date back to the latter period of the Anuradhapura Kingdom and were created during the reign of King Valagamba in the 10th century AD.
The entire rock resembles a massive elephant kneeling with head bowed and the trunk folded in its mouth. On the eastern side of the rock a total of 7 sculptures have been carved into the rock. The highest is the 51 feet high image of a standing Buddha, with groupings of three figures on each side. It stands the tallest of all rock carvings in Sri Lanka and perhaps the world since the destruction of the Bamiyan figures in Afghanistan. The site is very scenic, attractive and tranquil and is situated in a very peaceful environment. The area around is rich with herbal, fruit and other valuable trees. To the right of the image of Lord Buddha is that of Avalokitesvara, surrounded by images of Bhrkuti and his sister Tara. Remarkably, the original plaster and even a few fragments of paint still cover this image. The central figure in the group of three to the left of Lord Buddha is Maithri Bodhisathva, the fifth Buddha of this aeon.

Sithulpawwa

Posted on June 01, 2012  by admin  in Places of Worship   1 Comment »

Sithulpawwa rock temple is historically significant and identified as one of the greatest 2nd century sites of Buddhist scholarship. With a history of over 2200 years, this is an ancient place of worship in the Hambantota district. The modern name Sithulpawwa is derived from the ancient ‘Cittalpabbata’, ‘The hill of the quiet mind’. It is said that in the 1st century AD as many as 12,000 Arahants lived here (monks that have achieved the highest mind level in Buddhism). Unlike the great monasteries in Anuradhapura and other towns, life at Sithulpawwa was hard and a monk or nun lived there only if they were interested in silence and solitude. Located opposite the Maha Sithulpawwa rock which is 400 feet (122M) in height is a cave temple. This cave temple, which is 67 feet high and 30 feet long, is part of the intricate cave-complex at Sithulpawwa.

The Dagoba of Sithulpawwa can be seen on the top of the rock. It is believed to have been built by King Kawantissa (100-140AD). A number of caves contain inscriptions in the early Brahmi script and from these inscriptions it was learned that a number of villages donated money to this temple for its upkeep. Ancient literary works give interesting information relating to this shrine. The image house at Sithulpawwa still contains some fragments of paintings. In the eastern precinct of Sithulpawwa the ruins of an ancient preaching house can be seen, where a cluster of 10 feet high pillars rises from the earth.

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