Nakha Vehera of Ancient Anuradhapura (අනුරාධපුර නඛා වෙහෙර)

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Nakha Vehera ( Naka Vehera) of Anuradhapura is one of the hidden gems which is rarely visited in Anuradhapura.

There are 4 known square shaped stupa’s in Sri Lanka. The most popular is the Sathmahal Prasadaya of Polonnaruwa kingdom built during 11th -13th century. The rest of the 3 stupas can be found in the ancient Anuradhapura kingdom which are rarely visited by the pilgrims. One of these stupa’s is Nakha Vehera. The other 2 belongs to the Abhayagiriya Monastic Complex. One of them is known as Indikatu Seya (aka Prasada Stupa). The other lies west of Eth Pokuna on the western border of the Abhayagiri Monastery.

There is no much information on its origin or the name of Nakha-Vehera. Small clay Dagoba shaped votive objects have been discovered inside the structure indicating that this has been a dagoba similar to the Sathmahal Prasada in Polonnaruwa. The image house of the viharaya is found facing the east. Some sections of an ancient Buddha statue and a seat is still seen at the site (Seneviratna, 1994).

According to Mahawamsa, king Mahasena (276-303) has caused to build a stupa East of the Anuradhapura city. Nakha Vehera is the only stupa discovered in this area thus some believe Nakha Vehera had been built by king Mahasena (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Based on studies of the ruins, Nakha Vehera is believed be belonging to the late late Anuradhapura era ( 7-10th centuries). It belongs to the Mahayana tradition like all other square stupas. The base is about 9×9 meters and ruins of an image house and some other buildings has been discovered in the close vicinity of this stupa.

The stupa lies 200 meters away from the Watawandana Road and a gravel road from the sign board can be barely seen. This stupa lies almost in line with the east gate used to be the ancient road to ·Mihintale. This routes is now mostly covered by fields and gardens (Devendra, 1952). Once you turn towards the side road directed by the board, the road almost disappears due to disuse and 1-2 feet tall shrubs has taken over the road clearing. During rainy season the path becomes so muddy, only a 4 wheel drive will be able to make up to the stupa.

Wall face of Nakha Vehera based on the ruins
Wall face of Nakha Vehera based on the ruins
Source : Sinhalese Monastic Architecture: The Viháras of Anurádhapura
By S. D. Bandaranayake


  • Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture: The Viháras of Anurádhapura. Leiden: Brill.
  • Devendra, D.T., 1952. Guide to Anuradhapura. 2nd ed. Colombo: [Govt. Press], p.27.
  • Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.51.
  • Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, pp156-157.

Also See

Map of Nakha Vehera

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

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Driving Directions to Anuradhapura (Nakha Vehera)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map


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