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Temple

Maligawila statue

  Province Uva
  District Monaragala
  Nearest Town Monaragala
  Period 7th century
  Ruler -

Introduction

The drive to the site from Monaragala itself is also memorable. First we go passing rubber plantations, then we go winding along a tiny back road through straggling villages, avenue of majestic old hardwood trees & paddy fields. And impressive saw-tooth hills rise in the distance.

Maligawila village itself is very humble: a sandy clearing surrounded by a few small cottages & huts. A real rural corner. No frills. A beautiful site.The statues are indeed exceedingly impressive in themselves & they are made mysterious too by virtue of the shady tranquil setting, hidden in a stretch of pristine low-land jungle.Appearance and characteristics.

History

Restoration

The 7th century statues had lain fallen broken to pieces for centuries before being unearthed in the 1950s. These two were raised, various pieces were rescued from the jungle floor & painstakingly reassembled & restored to its ancient glory during 1989-1991.

Buddha statue

From the car park, we follow a path that leads into the woods, reaching a T-junction in about a distance of 300m. We take a turn to the left to reach a monolithic Buddha statue 10.5m high, 3 m wide crystalline limestone Buddha. It is the largest monolithic Buddha statue in Sri Lanka. It is also regarded by some as the finest piece of all Sinhalese sculpture. Standing Buddha statue, posed in the abhya mudra ("Have no fear") pose is freestanding apart from a discreet supporting brick arch in the rear. This is one of finest works of Sinhalese sculpture & the largest free-standing Buddha figure in the Buddhist world. Ancient chronicle of the Sinhalese, Mahavamsa states that the statue was crafted by King Aggabodhi in the seventh century.

Ancient monastery

The statue was originally part of an extensive monastic complex which had a gateway, pillared hall & terraces.

Statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva at Dambegoda

We return to T-junction & follow another path for 200m to reach the island's largest image of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. This statue too fashioned out of crystalline limestone. The structure is elaborate: the ruins of ornate entrance steps, a moonstone, two flanking guardstones. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is believed to give succour to the helpless. Wow! I have a chance.

Pillar inscription

Just left to the stairway to Avalokitesvara, we can see a caged pillar of inscriptions erected by King Aggabodhi in the early 7th century. It is a record of meritorious works carried out by the king for the benefit of Buddhism in the island.