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 is 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.

Girihaduseya- The oldest Buddhist Stupa in Sri Lanka

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.

Girihaduseya- The oldest Buddhist Stupa in Sri Lanka


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.

Girihaduseya- The oldest Buddhist Stupa in Sri Lanka


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.

On 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 levels.

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 king Vijayabahu in 1055 AD.   

Girihaduseya Video

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

Girihaduseya Map

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

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