Girihaduseya- The oldest Buddhist stupa in Sri Lanka

Girihaduseya- The oldest Buddhist Stupa in Sri Lanka

Girihaduseya is the oldest Buddhist stupa in Sri Lanka. It is known as Thiriyaya watadage or Nithupattana vihara. It is located in Thiriyaya village in the Trincomalee district. This village is named in Tamil Thiriyayi. The temple situated on a small hill rock near the sea coast about  42 kilometres to the  North of Trincomalee. It is along the Nilaweli- Kuchcheweli pulmudai road.

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There are few well-known watadage in Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura (Thuparama), Medirigiriya is one of them. Grihaduseya was very special because of the story of Buddhism, Thapassu and Balluka placed the sacred hair in this place. Thalassa and Balluka were the first devotees of the Lord Buddha. They were seafaring merchants and on their way travel to another country, they had come to this place. It is said that the hair of Lord Buddha, they put on a stone in this place and went to eat something.  After coming back they couldn’t take that relic casket from the place where it was. So, in that situation they were very happy and given the honour to it they covered it from the heap of stone and went their way.  Later it became a  small stupa in this place. It named Grikandi stupa. After some time later the name was changed Girihadu seya.

According to the Sri Lankan sacred book of Pujawaliya, this place was named Grihadu. The inscription cut into the rock, nearest this place was named this place as Girikandi. It is believed that Grihadu seya is the first stupa in Sri Lanka before introducing Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

 There are two stone flights to step lead up to the summit on two sides when you are climbing your way up the 212 feet hillock. On that way you pass across stone slab inscriptions called the Thiriyaya stone inscriptions.  It dictates the origins of the stupa.

There are some stone pillars surrounding the stupa. It is a circular structure. Brick of the ruined foundations of the buildings falling on this summit. The Girihadu seya stupa has been built two times in history. The stupa was originally small in size and had been enlarged in the 8th century. There are two pillars round as a bangle around the stupa. They were made of granite.

There are four entrances to this stupa and they are fascinating stone carvings.  They are the moon stone ( Sandakada pahana) , makara balustrades, and Naga guard stone.  At the entrance of each of these are stone doorways to the shrine. The guard stone is the most striking artistic feature.  The art belonging to a phase earlier than Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. It is similar to the Pallava style.  Around the watadage are seen the remains of image houses with Buddha image.  This sacred place of worship and wonder is surrounded by panoramic views.

The ground level of this site there is so many ruins. It says about our wonderful history. You can see the fallen statues of Buddha at the ground level of this summit. It says this place was Mahayana Buddha tradition. There are some ponds and flights of steps leading to a different level.

The ancient stone bridge reveals the engineering ingenuity of our ancestors. The slop of the hill is some rock caves that bear early Brahmi inscriptions. The temple was repaired by the king Vijayabahu in 1055 AD.   

Girihaduseya Video

A pilgrimage to Girihaduseya is a great spiritual experience for Buddhists as well as others.

Girihaduseya Map

Batadombalena- The Home of the Balangoda Manawaya

Batadomba lena is in Kuruvita village. There are 85 kilometres from Colombo to this cave. if you start your journey from Kuruwita town you may have 8 kilometres from there.  Batadombalaena is an Archaeological site in the Rathnapura district. With evidence of habitation from 8000 years BCE. Balangoda man (Homo sapiens balangodenis) lived in this cave. Batadombalena is known as the Diva guhava in Buddhist literature. It is believed that the cave which the Buddha spend the day after placing his footprint on Adam’s peak. 

Batadombalena is in fact of three caves. The largest cave is 49 feet high,59 feet wide and 82 feet long. It is a triangular arch cave. It has a narrow shelf at the base of the rock.  

Anatomically modern prehistoric human remains found in Sri Lanka are commonly referred to as Balangoda man. The cave was the home of Balangoda man. the first time this cave was excavated was in 1930. It discovered the skeletal remains of several modern human adults and a child. This place gave the earliest record of modern humans in South Asia. 

According to the scientists, balangoda man’s bones are robust, with thick skull bones. He had a depressed nose, heavy jaws and a short neck. Scientists had estimated a height of 174 cm for mail and 166cm for females. Their teeth are conspicuously large. 

In 2015, oxford university has studied teeth excavated in the Batadombalena and revealed new secrets. According to it, Balangoda men had lived in this cave home 45000 years ago. He had regular contact with the coast, 40 kilometres away. There was jewellery made of seashells and shark’s teeth. They are excavated in this cave. 

When you are going to see this cave through the jungle you meet the stream created a natural tunnel through the jungle. It is a very cool area. According to the remains, we can believe Balangoda man would have had a comfortable life with his family.

Batadombalena Map

large;">Sri Pada – The Sacred Mountain

Sri pada is a   sacred mountain situated in the Sabaragamuwa province. There are 122 kilometres from Colombo. The height of the mountain is 7362 feet, At the top of the mountain is a slab of rock with a large indentation believed to be the Buddha’s footprint. The lord Buddha left during his legendary third visit to the island.

The chief The significance of Sri pada is that is held sacred by people who belong to all the four major religions. Hindus believe the footprint is of the god Siva and they called it Sivan Adi Pad ham.  Christians believe it to be the footprint of Christ’s disciple Thomas, while the Islamic devotees believe that it is the footprint of Adam. So, the mountain is called Adam’s Peak.

There is a climbing season for this mountain. It is between December and May every year. It is said that this sacred mountain is protected by the god Saman. That is why it is called ‘Samanala Kanda. A thousand devotees climb this mountain during the climbing period. They usually go as a group. The group leader is called ‘Nade Gura’. People have to wear warm clothes as it is called the top of the mountain.People take seven or six hours to go on the top. They meet resting area for their way, Indikatupana Heramitipana, Seetha gangula ,  Mahagiridambe and ect… Most people wear white clothes. When they climb to the top.  On their way, they met a small river called Seetha gangula and people take a bath from Seeteha gangula. It means the clean person must go to this sacred place. There is two main way to climb this rock.

The ancient historical book of the Mahavamsa says that the lord Buddha set his footprint on the summit of Sri Pada on his third visit to Sri Lanka.

Sri Pada Mountain Map


The SL ART CAFÉ is an Educational Reference Website. Editor - Nirosha Manel Jayawardene | Producer - Senuth Deelana Rajapakshe

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