Bowattegala Monastery Ruins in Kumana (බෝවත්තේගල ආරාම සංකීර්ණයේ නටඹුන්)

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The villages of Kumana and Panama, once part of a ancient flourishing civilization, today is a think jungle teeming with wildlife. The evidence of this civilization still remains in form of ruins of massive monastic complexes such as Bowattegala Monastery,  Kudumbigala Monastery and Bambaragastalawa Naga Pabbatha Monastery, dams,  canals and irrigation reservoirs belonging to the pre christian era scattered all over the jungles in and around Kumana.

Bowattegala, a rock strewn mountain in the midst of Kumana National Park, had been first fashioned a monastery in the third-second century BC by the ten noble brothers of Kataragama, known in Sri Lankan history as the ‘Kataragama-kshathriya’.

Bowattegala hills consists of many caves mostly with drip ledges and Brahmi inscriptions indicating that this has been a vast monastery in the ancient times. Remains of brick walls on some caves indicate that these caves have been converted in to shrine rooms and living quarters for the meditating monks. The fact that the Brahmi inscriptions belong to the pre Christian era and the bricks belong to a later age prove that Bowattegala Monastery has survived for thousands of years before falling in to despair.

The are ruins of stupas on number of hill tops which has been dated back to the Anuradhapura period. The inscriptions at Bowattegala Monastery speaks of 10 brothers and historian Senarath Paranawithana believes that this refers to the 10 Kshathriyas of Kataragama mentioned in the Dhatuwansa, the  ancient chronicle of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha and Ven Ellawala thero too support this belief.

The cave inscriptions at the ancient monastery at Bovattagala, about 3 miles north-west of Kumana, are of considerable interest in that they record donations made to the Sangha by the descendants, probably contemporaneous with Dutthagamani Abhaya (b.c. 161- 137), of the once independent royal dynasty of Kataragama which was dispossessed by Gothabhaya of Rohana. The inscriptions of this dynasty, which are associated with those at Kottadamuhela, a few miles to the west, carry the distinctive emblem of a fish and they give the names of five generations of royal personages :— (i) Gamini : (ii) his 10 sons, one of whom was Raja Uti ; (iii) his grandsons, Damaraja and prince Abaya ; (iv) his great-grandchildren, the princes Mahatisa and Tisa, and the princess Anuradi ; and (v) his great- great-granddaughter, princess Savera. Later inscriptions at Bovattagala indicate that the monastery was in a flourishing condition up to the 7th century.

A township named Uti, possibly connected with Raja Uti of the Kataragama dynasty, is mentioned in an inscription of the 2nd century B.C. at Kongala, a rocky hill about 4 miles north of Kumana, where there are several inscribed caves. Inscriptions of the 5th century at this same site mention the places Citagalaya and Mayulavila : the latter name is repeated in a 4th century inscription at Akurukelugala, about 20 miles further north.

C. W. Nicholas, 1963. Historical Topography of Ancient and Medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

Citing the inscription mentioning  of Kataragama Kshathriyas also in Kottadamuhela (කොටාදැමූහෙළ) in the same vicinity, and the lack of any evidence of the their work in the current Kataragama area, Ven. Ellawala Thero believes that the Kshathriyas of Kataragama ruled from the Panama/Kumama area and not in the current Kataragama.

The chronicle states that the Kshathriyas of Kataragama attended the planting of the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodiya at Anuradhapura and later received a sapling of the same tree as a present. This tree is said to be planted in Kataragama. Considering the above and the name Bowattegala which could interpreted as the “Garden by the rock where the Bo tree is situated” it has been assumed that the sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi of Anuradhapura was planted at Bowattegala and not in the present Kataragama as per the popular belief.

List of Archaeological Sites inside Yala and Kumana National Parks

  1. Akasa Chethiya
  2. Athurumithurugala (see map below)
  3. Athurumituruwewa
  4. Bambaragastalawa
  5. Bembawa
  6. Bowattegala
  7. Brahmanatota
  8. Dematagala
  9. Dikkandanegala
  10. Divulanagoda (Veheradivulana)
  11. Gonagala
  12. Goyankola Mayagala
  13. Handuneruwa
  14. Iriyapola 
  15. Kanabiso Galge
  16. Katupila (see map below)
  17. Katupila Mankada (see map below)
  18. Kiripokunahela
  19. Mahakiriwedumagala
  20. Kongala


  1. Ellāvala Medhānanda, 2005. The Sinhala Buddhist heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. 1st ed. Colombo: Dayawansa Jayakody & Co.
  2. C. W. Nicholas, 1963. Historical Topography of Ancient and Medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series Volume VI Special Number, p.21

Also See

Map of Bowattegala Monastery in Kumana

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Bowattegala Monastery in Kumana

Entrance to Kumana is from Okanda. Although the fastest route is through the Southern Expressway, The route through Balangoda – Beragala is very scenic.

Route I from Colombo to Kumana Park Entrance at Okanda Route II from Colombo to Kumana Park Entrance at Okanda
Through : Southern Highway – Mattala – Thanamalwila – Wellawaya – Monaragala – Potuvil – Panama – Okanda
Distance :420 km
Travel time : 7.30 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Balangoda – Beragala – Wellawaya – Monaragala – Potuvil – Panama – Okanda
Distance :345 km
Travel time : 9.30 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Route from Potuvil to Kumana Park Entrance at Okanda
Through : Potuvil – Panama – Okanda
Distance :32 km
Travel time : 1 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map


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