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Ruins

Hatthikuchchi Complex

  Province North Central
  District Anuradhapura
  Nearest Town Rajanganaya
  Period 251-253 A.D.
  Ruler King Sirisamghabodhi

Introduction

Hattikucchi Vihara Complex also known as Rajangana Ruins is located between the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala road which runs through Padeniya and Galgmuwa. It is about 40 kilometers away from Anuradhapura. If traveling from Kurunegala, take the Putlam Road (A10 route) and travel along the road up to Padeniya. From Padeniya, turn to right towards Galgamuwa (on to A28 route). Passing Galgamuwa and after passing the 37TH kilometre post You will come to a junction called Mahagalkadawala (Maha-gal-kada-wala) (some times referred to as Gal-kalla). Turn left from there (you will see a board directing you towards Hattikucchi). After traveling about 3 km another board will direct you to turn left again. The Aramic Complex is about ½ km down this road. If traveling from Anuradhapura use the Galgamuwa road (A28 route) and passing Thulawa and Thambuthegama you will reach Mahagalkadawala as you pass the 36 th kilometre post. The roads are motorable and car can easily go upto the designated car park area.

History

Built nearly thousand and two hundred years ago Hasthikuchchi or Elephant’s Belly valley looks a rock fortress than a monastery. Once the house to tens and thousands of Arhaths in deep meditation the monastery complex is ruins today except for few everlasting stone caves and a image house built in the Anuradhapura era during the fifth or ninth century BC.

Although the playground of a large group of torque monkeys today Hasthikuchchi housed a well-known king and a Arhanth of Mahavihara fame. The history relates that prodigy monk Arhanth Buddhagosa made Hasthikuchchi his main aboard at later period of his life to avoid the political disputes surrounding the ever-powerful Mahavihara, the first monastery in the country. Many Arhaths, who were originally based in Mahavihara, had taken to monasteries situated far from the capital Anuradhapura to avoid the conflicts between the Mahavihara and the king. The historians records a high out flow of Arhanth to wild monasteries in search of peace of mind and it was suspected that Hasthikuchchi is one of the main such monasteries based around Anuradhapura. However Hasthikuchchi is more known with the name of a King who sacrificed his head to a poor man to reach his objective, Nibbana. King Sirisangabo who regime the country during 251-253A.D was over thrown by his friend Gotabaya and sought a monastic life. Although his place of retreat was long thought to be Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya the modern archeologists had long been questioning the originality of the Attanagalla theory. It was pointed that King Sirisangabo meditated near a pond, which does not see the rays of sun nor moon while the meditating king could see the Ruwanwelisaya from his retreat. Armed with new evidence historians are now holding Hasthikuchchi as the retreat of King Sirisangabo. They believe that the king who left his kingdom and escaped assassination would have sought relief with the Bikkhus and Arhanths who were living at Hasthikuchchi. “There is solid evidence that there existed a well established monastery by the ninth century AD,” Archeological Department authorities at site said. Even today the ruins of a chapter house, image house, audience hall and meditation houses could be found scattered among the serene mountains. However the most interesting is the double platform meditation house built by connecting two stone platforms by a bridge. Although in ruins today the double platform mediation house situated isolated from the main monastery complex had been used to practice walking posture of meditation by two. Another unique characteristic is the image house, which houses a lime based status of a sleeping Buddha built in a later time than the Anuradhapura era, proving that the monastery Hasthikuchchi had long lived the Anuradhapura kingdom. Yet the most mysterious is the 18 feet deep natural pond situated in the top of the Hasthikuchchi rock mountain. The village myth says that the pond continues to be cool and filled with water despite any drought and the myth was proven to be no myth as the pond is filed with glittering cool waters even today despite the heavy drought in the area, which had dried out the fame of almost all the tanks and ponds in the area.

Natural water pool at the top of the rock. This is is said to be the place that the king cut his own head.

Path to the vatadage and to the rock caves

Image house with plain guard stones and moonstone indicating a forest hermitage

An image house built in an natural rock cave. The walls are made of clay.

the reclining buddha statue inside the image house. Thought to be built during the Kandy Era.

A finely layed out wall