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Must Visit Locations

Maligawila, Sri Lanka

The roads to Maligawila
All the roads to Maligawila are scenic
Badulla - Bandarawela road via Ravana Ella Falls
Balangoda - Haptuale road from Koslanda via 220 m high Diyaluma Water Falls
Buttala road from Kataragama.

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.

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.

More Historical sites around Maligawila
Buduruwagala, Yudaganawa & Dematamal Viharaya

Buttala is located between Buduruwagala & Maligawila
Buttala (meaning rice mound in Sinhalese) was known as the rice bowl of the country. This is a wilderness area, with plenty of opportunities for trekking, wildlife spotting, rock-climbing & even rafting.

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Photo Gallery

click on photo to enlarge

Maligawila Statues

Maligawila Statues

Maligawila Statues

Maligawila Statues

Buttala Landscape

Buttala Landscape

Buttala Landscape

Buttala Landscape

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