Avukana Buddha Statue (අවුකන බුද්ධ ප්‍රතිමාව)

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The Avukana Buddha statue is a renowned ancient sculpture located in Sri Lanka, specifically in the district of Anuradhapura the cradle of our ancient civilization. It stands near the small town of Avukana, hence the name. It is carved out of a rock boulder and lies close to the serene Kala Weva reservoir built by King Dhatusena in the 5th century AD.

The Avukana Buddha statue is believed to have been carved during the reign of King Dhatusena (459-477 CE) of the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura. There is also a belief that this is the work of King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 CE). Professor Paranavitarnesuggests 8th century A.D. on the ground that a slab of stone used on a part of the image house is inscribed with the name of the donor in a script datable to between 5th and 8th century A.D (Wijesekera,1962).

The Avukana Buddha carving, positioned atop a lotus flower pedestal, stands at an impressive height of 46 feet. From head to toe, the statue measures 38 feet and 10 inches. The head alone reaches a height of 6 feet and 6 inches, while the foot spans a width of 6 feet and 1 inch. Crafted almost entirely in the round from a single square boulder of similar height, the statue remains remarkably well-preserved. It is delicately attached to the original rock behind it by a narrow strip at the waist. Facing directly eastward, the statue looks on towards the majestic Kalawewa Reservoir (Wijesekera,1962).

The face of the statue is oval-shaped, although the Buddha statues of this era depict round faces. The face typifies deep feeling and is serene. The ripples of the robe, though featuring the Amaravati style, show more finesse and simplicity. Although it is said that this image is in the Abhaya mudra the right hand is placed in a different position. For the Abhaya mudra, the palm of the right hand must face forward with the fingers slightly bent. This feature is seen in the Ras Vehera statue. In the Avukana statue, the palm is raised and the fingers are held straight. Thus some say it is the Ashir-mudra (Vanarathana, 1990).

According to local traditions, they say that the degree of accuracy of sculpturing it was such that if a drop of water (meaning rainwater), detaching itself from the the tip of its nose would drop perpendicular into the small depression (if there is no blowing), carved between its big toes. That depression is still to be seen carved out in that fashion between the toes.

A few miles away from Galnewa via Magalweva in Mahaweli System H, lies a similar standing Buddha statue enclaved amidst a vast conclave of rock cave shelters and giant boulders in the folds of the jungle fastness. This Buddha statue is known by two names one is Ras Vehera and the other Sesuruwa.

References

  • Wijesekera, N. (1962) Early Sinhalese sculpture. Colombo, Ceylon: M.D. Gunasena.

  • Vanarathana, K. (1990) ‘Sculpture And Carvings Of Sri Lanka From The 1st To 5th Century A.D.’, in Archaeological Department Centenary (1890 – 1990) : Commemorative Series Volume Four : Sculpture. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Department of Archaeology, pp. 2–43.

Map of the Avukana Buddha Statue

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Avukana Buddha Statue

Awkana statue can be reached from Colombo through the common Colombo – Anuradhapura road and turning off from Kakirawa towards the Kala Weva. Passing Kala Wewa you can reach the location after travelling a few kilometres

Route from Colombo to Avukana Route from Anuradhapura to Avukana
Though : Kurunegala – Galewela
distance : 175 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Maradankadawela – Thonigala
distance : 56 km
Travel time : 1.15 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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