Maligawila, Sri Lanka
The roads to Maligawila
All the roads to Maligawila are scenic
Bandarawela road via Ravana Ella Falls
Balangoda - Haptuale road from Koslanda via
220 m high Diyaluma Water
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
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.
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.
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
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is believed to give succour to the helpless.
Wow! I have a chance.
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.
on photo to enlarge