Our ancient sculptures in stone in the form of Buddha statues, sluices, guard stones , pillars and other such artifacts are over 2000 years old. Among the largest such standing Buddha statues is this famed Aukana Buddha statue lying amidst Raja Rata – the cradle of our ancient civilization. It is carved out of a rock boulder and lies close to the serene Kala Weva tank built by King Dhatusena of the 5th century AD.
The Avukana Buddha colossus in stone is also easily accessible through the Mahaweli System H, at Galnewa. This Avukana Buddha statue is 46-feet high, resting on a fine lotus stone pedestal. The symbolic gesture carved on the statue, called Mudra is in the form of Ashiva Mudra which signifies giving or blessing.
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.
Ras Vehera has its derivation that the patriarch Bo tree standing there had originated from a sapling that was brought from the Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura. As when the Bo sapling was planted there, the rays (halo) of Lord Buddha illuminated around the place.
Ras Vehera Buddha
Sesuruwa means what is similar, as the Ras Vehera statue bears similar profiles to the Aukana Buddha statue. But there is a world of difference between the sculpturing structure of these two Buddha statues.
While the Aukana Buddha statue is 46 feet high, the Sesuruwa/Ras Vehera one is 36 feet high. This Ras Vehera statue is carved into a rectangular frame in the rock boulder itself. The siraspota is absent there, while it is portrayed in dots for the hair. The Aukana Buddha statue stands on a stone pedestal in the form of an exquisite lotus symbol. While that of the Ras Vehera statue stands on a plain rectangular stone pedestal.
The symbolic mudras (gestures) depicted here differ from each other. The Aukana Buddha statue has the Ashiva Mudra (giving of a blessing), while in the Ras Vehera one, the Mudra is in the form of Abhaya Mudra (meaning freedom from fear or fearlessness). For all visual purposes, from the sculptured features on the Ras Vehera Buddha statue it appears that it was left in an unfinished state of sculpturing for some unknown reason.
Builders of the statues
Some attribute these to have been constructed by king Dhatusena of the 6th century AD, when he was living in a temple called Sinhagiri Vihara. Still others say it was built during the epic reign of King Parakrama Bahu, the Great of the 13th century, AD. The Ras Vehera Statue also dates back to the 12th-13th century AD. As regards the canopy constructed over the Aukana Buddha in the past, there are diversified views expressed by archaeological authorities, as regards to its removal. It is learnt from the Archaeological Department sources (its Advisory Board) had approved its removal. Some say that removing such an overhead roof would be damaging to the statue, as then it would be exposed to the natural elements like sun, rain and wind. From ancient times, the statue had been kept open sans any canopy over it. Consequently, it was quite exposed to the rigours of time, wear and tear of even the natural phenomenon like rain, sun and wind. In conclusion let me mention one unique feature of its sculpturing the Aukana Buddha statue.
According to local traditions, they say that the degree of accuracy of sculpturing it was such that if a drop of water (meaning rain water), detaching itself from the the tip of its nose would drop in 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.
Gamini G. Punchihewa
Map of the Avukana Buddha Statue
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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 weva you can reach the location after traveling 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