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Cave Temples in Sri Lanka

Buduruwagala Cave Temple

  Province Uva
  District Monaragala
  Nearest Town Wellawaya
  Period Unknown
  Ruler Unknown

The ancient rock carvings at Buduruwagala, close to Welawaya, date back to the 8th century. Seven gigantic Buddhist figures are sculpted into a 70ft cliff including a colossal image of Lord Buddha spanning a height of about 51ft.This is interisting place for all those peoples who like a little surprise at the end of an off beaten track in a jungle that blows your mind away. Buduruwagala is an acient buddhist temple in one of those rare surprises that awaits you in the middle of a Jungle. This site that is surrounted by a breathtaking lake for the mysterious sculptures that are carved around the temple.


A magical archeological site

The beautiful road leads south of the town of Wellawaya past a dammed lake to the magical archeological site of Buduruwagala, in a patch of a tranquil dry-zone forest, dotted with rocky outcrops with birds & butterflies flying all over. On a massive rock, somewhat similar in shape of an elephant lying down, is a courtly group of seven figures carved in high relief: two bodhisattvas, each attended by two figures, stand on either side of a 16m high central Buddha figure. The main figures hold up their right hands with two fingers bent down to the palm. Come hither? That's a beckoning gesture, for sure. The large central standing Buddha is in the Abhaya mudra ("have no fear"). Let's take the shoes off & climb up & get close to the great rock carved statues. The quality of the carvings is very impressive. Mahayana Buddhist influence is evident in the statues. In the tenth century, Mahayana Buddhism enjoyed a brief vogue in Lanka during the period.

Buddha statue

Of the seven rock-cut figures in high relief, the Buddha statue in the centre is 16m tall. Traces of the red & yellow paints remain on the Buddha itself. Close to the right foot of the Buddha is a hole in the shape of an oil lamp flame; mustard smelling oil is said miraculously to flow through periodically. The presence of square cut-holes in the rock above Buddha provides tell-tale sign of a canopy in the ancient times. Left-hand side of rock: Avalokiteshvara at the centre, Tara & an attendant On the left-hand side of the rock stand a group of three figures. The central one, which retains its white paint & red halo, is believed to depict one of the most important Mahayana divinities, Avalokaitesvara. To the left stands an attendant, while the female figure to the right in the "thrice-bent" posture is Tara, his consort. Right hand side of rock: Maitreya at the centre, Vajrapani & an attendant On the right is the Tibetan Bodhisattva Vajrapani, holding an hourglass-shaped Tibetan thunderbolt symbol known as a dorje-a rare instance of Tantric influence in Sri Lankan Buddhist art). The central figure is Maitreya or Natha, the future Buddha, while the third figure is god Vishnu.

Handapangoda Reservoir

Some 6km south of Bududruvagala along the main road is a left turn for the Hadapangoda reservoir, where elephants migrate from Ruhuna Yala National Park for water during the summer months.

Wild elephants at the reservoir

2km off the main road. We can scramble up the popular local bathing spot here to see the elephants at a distance on the other side of the water. For a close encounter, we can take a boat ride with a local guide.