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Temple

Situlpahuwa Temple

  Province Southern
  District Hambanthota
  Nearest Town Kataragama
  Period 2nd century BC
  Ruler King Kavan Tissa

Introduction

Situlpawwa rock temple with a history of over 2200 years is one of the significant Buddhist sites built in the 2nd Century BC, Located right in the Ruhuna Yala National Park is the famous archeological site named Sithulpahuwa. The second century monastery proudly presents the renovated majestic dagobas. Rock carvings & more than 60 inscriptions testify to the history of the site.

History

The Yala Group of National Reserves was once a part of the ancient Sinhalese kingdom of Ruhuna. A monastic settlement, Situlpahuwa, alone had housed about 12,000 inhabitants including thousands of Buddhist monks during the period of ancient kingdom of Ruhuna of Sri Lanka. Recently resorted, Situlpahuwa is an important centre of pilgrimage en route to nearby Kataragama. Restored Magul Mahavihara (temple) & Akasa Chetiya (shrine) date to the first & second centuries BC testify to a part of the ancient kingdom of Ruhuna. Magul Maha Vihara was built on the spot where King Kavantissa & Vihara Maha Devi were married. In Sinhalese magul means 'wedding'.

Situlapahuwa Monastery archeological site

Five km from Tissamaharama, the watering hole of the animals in transit to Ruhuna Yala National Park, the main road branches off to well lay gravel road. A half an hour drive through the woods that becomes thicker at each turn of the road takes us to barrier point of the game warden. From the barrier another half an hour's drive takes us to Situlapahuwa archeological site of stupas, temple, wild elephants & herbal tea. The monastery comprises of two rock-top dagobas (stupas) with a small lake in between.

Into the middle of wilderness: the first dagoba & the view of the park

The little path leads out of the shrine room with both sides of the path having caves in which monks used to meditate in the ancient times. The path takes us to a rocky outcrop from where we could see the whole expanse of Ruhunu Yala National Park. The existent dagoba on the top of the rocky outcrop is built over the foundations of an ancient dagoba. The inscriptions scattered around the site have identified Situlpahuwa as a monastery of great piety & scholarship.

Kuda Situlpahuwa (Little Situlpahuwa)

Still more into the wilderness & another kilometer through the woods takes us to a smaller dagoba atop another rock outcrop, which is even higher than Situlpahuwa. We will be trekking up a near vertical rock face with the help of rickety hand rail made of iron & tiny toe holds carved into the rock face. Once again we have a panoramic view of the national park.