Archaeological Ruins of the Temple of Tooth on Beligala Rock

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දළදා මාලිගාවක් වූ කෑගල්ල බෙලිගල පර්වතය  - Archaeological Ruins of Beligala Rock
දළදා මාලිගාවක් වූ කෑගල්ල බෙලිගල පර්වතය – Archaeological Ruins of Beligala Rock

Once a royal palace, once a fortress and once a temple of the Tooth Relic, Beligala has become a haven for treasure hunters forgotten by the Archaeological Department. You can reach the Beligala Rock from Beligas Junction, Kegalle on Colombo Kandy Road by traveling about 3 km along Beligala Road. A series of other short hills to the south. The nearest mountain is called Kula Beligala (small beligala). It is so called because it is similar to Beligala Rock. It is about two or three hundred yards apart, but is separated by an open gorge.

There are many legends about the connection of the name Beligala to this area. In the ancient book Kadaim Potha, the name is derived because pearls, beads and Sathruwan (seven precious items, wiz gold, silver, pearls, gems, diamonds, diamonds, pearls – gold, silver, pearls, gems, diamonds, cats-eyes and coral) appeared from Beli Fruit trees and caves in this area, because there were four stone pillars with carvings of Beli fruit trees to mark the boundaries here, and because a merchant had previously bought this land and paid by filling a beli fruit shell with precious items, and because there was a Beli Tree in a crevice on the west of Beligala rock and because the garden which supplied Beli Flowers to the palace was in this area.


The first king associated with Beligala was King Gajaba I (112-134). The Rajavali records how he freed 12,000 Sinhalese who had been taken to Soli country (in India) during his father’s reign and returned to Ceylon with 12,000 Tamil prisoners as compensation.

Kurunegala Vistharaya” states how after the return of King Gajaba I to Sri Lanka, a new seven storied palace was built on Beligala rock and the houses and other associated buildings were built for the city of Beligala deserting the city of Dedigama.

Thus, by the 2nd century, Beligala appears to have been a complete city with a royal palace.

R.W. Ivers who was the Assistant Agent in Kegalle at that time has published a detailed account of Beligala in the 1884 issue of the Sri Lanka Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. He discusses the origin of the name and states that the rock seems to have got this name because it looks like a Beli fruit shell. It is clear that this explanation is possible as other rocks in the district such as Alagala, Batalegala and Urakanda has taken the names due their shape. In addition, in a there is a folklore that a Brahmin was carrying a Bo plant stopped to have his meals below a Beli tree finding that the Bo tree being rooted to the Beli tree when he was ready to leave. When he returned to the Beli tree and tried to pick up the Bo plant, he saw that the Bo plant had pierced the container and pulled the roots out of the Beli tree. But today there is no bark or bo tree on this rock.

The name would appear to have arisen from a fancied resemblance in the shape of the rock to a belt fruit. The analogy of nomenclature of rocks in the District, such as Alagala, Batalagala, Urakanda, &c, make this probable ; but tradition has a story that a Brahmin, travelling with a shoot of the bo tree, rested beside a bell tree in this village, and placed the sacred shoot on a branch of the belt tree, and went to eat his rice ; when he came to remove the bowl it was found that the shoot had grown down through the bowl and beside the tree to the ground, and was firmly rooted there. ‘There is now neither bell nor bo tree on the rock.


He then quotes Rajavali and comments on the origin of Beligala;

The heirs of Dantakumaraya, son-in-law of a king of Dantapura in the Kalinga country, settled in the Kiraweli Pattuwa, 310 A.D., and there remained until the fifteenth century, intermarrying with the royal race (Rajawali). Local tradition ascribes the works at Beligala to a Kalinga monarch. I see no reason to doubt that these princes made use of the rock as a stronghold, and that when the tooth-relic was in danger from the Tamil invasion, it was brought from its hiding place in Kotmale to Beligala.


Beligala is then mentioned during the reign of King Vijayabahu III. The kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely destroyed by the invasion of Kalinga Magha in 1215. Thus, for 24 years after that the country faced a cruel rule which saw massive destructions of temples and reservoirs.

With the invasion of Kalinga Magha, the Maha Sangha removed the Dalada relic Pathra relic of the Buddha from Polonnaruwa, secretly hid the relics in Kotmale and went to Padi or Soli country in India. Vijayabahu III established his kingdom at Dambadeniya in year 1232 when Magha’s rule weakened. He later sent ministers to bring back the Maha Sangha who was living in various parts of India. They bowed to the great theros and asked them about the pair of relics and told the king that they knew where the relics were. The King happily went to Kotmale with the Maha Sangha, obtained the pair of relics, performed great rituals and brought the Tooth Relic and the bowl relic to Dambadeniya.

Culavamsa describes how he built defensive walls around the Beligala rock and built a relic shrine like a devine palace, palaces, mansions, halls and a monastery with all the elements for the protection of the relics and how he took the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic to the new relics house on the Beligala rock.

And further: during these disturbed times all the Grand theras with Vacissara at the head, had carried away from Pulatthinagara the Alms-bowl Relic and the Tooth Relic of the Master, had gone forth, had betaken themselves to Mayarattha and there on the mountain Kotthumala in a safe region had buried both the relics carefully in the earth and so preserved them. Now some of these Grand theras with Vacissara at the head, who sought that protection for Lanka on which depended the continuance of the Order, had crossed the vast ocean, despite its raging waves, had betaken themselves to the lands of the Pandus, Colas and other (peoples). Now Vijayabahu sending forth his great dignitaries, summoned all these theras who were a mine of mercy back from there. When the Grand tberas arrived he greeted them with reverence and asked them: “Where are the two relics, the Tooth and the Alms-bowl preserved”? At their answer, “In such and such a place”, the Monarch’s whole body was filled with a fivefold joy. Led by the crowd of the Grand tberas, the Ruler set forth with his army for the Kotthumala mountain. After he had performed a great sacrificial festival” round about the mountain, he beheld there gazing with bis whole soul, the, two relics of the Tooth and of the Almsbowl. With a heart as full of joy as if he had found a jewel like the wheel and the rest or a great treasure, or as if he had attained Nirvana, the Sovereign took unto himself the two relics and blessed like Mandhatar, he bore them with great celebrations from village to village, from town to town and brought them to the beautiful city of Jambuddoni where the pious people began a great and splendid festival. Now while the wise King day by day celebrated a great sacrificial ceremony for the relics, he thought thus: “In order that if in future time another interregnum occurs, no evil from alien enemies shall befall these relics of the Sage, I will carefully provide for them a still more inaccessible place, fast and sure.” Thus pondering he had the Billasela (mountain) made fast on every side with walls, gate-towers and the like, that save by the gods in the air, it could not be trodden by any human foes. And on the summit of the rock he built a superb temple for the Tooth Relic, ravishing as a divine palace descended from the world of the gods. Around this he laid out a park for the community with divers pasadas and madapaa, delightful for taking an airing when passing the day or when passing the night therein, provided with lakes and bathing-ponds. In this relic temple the wise (monarch) had the two relics, Tooth and Bowl, carefully placed with great solemnity. After making over the park for the community to the faithful theras who were charged with the care of the relics, be decreed a regular offering of alms. Also he commanded that a sacrificial ceremony of surpassing kind should be performed for the relics day by day in, most perfect fashion.

Culavamsa Being the More Recent Part of Mahavamsa : Volume 2 (1929)

Similar descriptions to Mahavansa can also be found on the ancient texts of Rajarathnakaraya, Poojavali and Atthanagaluwansaya.

Later, according to the Mahavamsa and the Poojavali, it is mentioned that Prince Bhuvanekabahu who was the brother of king Pandit Parakramabahu (1236-1270), the son of Vijayabahu, built a monastery with various halls in Beligalvehera called Bhuvanekabahu.

Also, the Mahavamsa and the Rajaratnakara states that King Panditha Parakramabahu (1236-1270) later took both the relics of the Tooth Relic and the bowl relics from Beligala to the Temple of the Tooth built at Wijayasundararamaya.

According to records from Mr. Ivers’ visit to Beligala in the 1880s:

The footpath to the top of the Beligala rock is through the yard of the house of the old Korala who lives at the foot of the rock. This land which he owned was acquired from the government in 1862 for cultivation.

About halfway to the top of the cliff, you will find a cave 18 yards deep and 5 yards wide. According to folklore, this is a watchtower. Further up, you will find the ruins of a stone fort built similar to Sigiriya fort wall, with a number of broken pillars and a series of steps. This could be the ruins of some entrance. Next is a flat area of ​​about 50 × 20 yards. The path passes through this area where the royal palace is located and reaches the top from the right side of the rock.

The area at the top of this rock can be eight to ten acres or more. There are many ruined stone pillars in the Temple of the Tooth at the top and the remains of pillars with simple carvings. Some of the stone pillars have been lowered by the Korala using a shoot made of Kithul tree trunks as material for his buildings. These pillars have no carving or artistic value. There are carved stone balustrades (korawak gal) that are usually found on a staircase at the top. In addition, there is a stone bowl one and a half feet wide.

In addition, there is a curious monolith six and a half feet long and three and a half feet wide, and having at each end a tenon to fit a mortice. In the centre is a nicely-carved boss, or omphalos, in relief. This may have been a side post of a door, but it seems unnecessarily broad for the purpose, though there are some broader than this at Anuradhapura.

According to the HCP Bell in Kegalle report, the two balustrades mentioned above were taken to the current location by the deceased Korala and there is no idea where they came from. The stone slab mentioned by Mr. Ivers is exactly 5 feet 10 inches long, 2 feet 9 inches wide and 6 inches deep. It has a tenon at one end only. The ” boss” is an open lotus nicely carved in low relief, 1 feet. in diameter. It is difficult to conjecture what purpose the slab served, unless for a mal-poruwa, or offering slab.

To the south of the ruins, which is considered to be the Temple of the Tooth, is a deep but narrow ravine across the rock. The ravine has been banked at the two ends and is used as a pond to collect water. The pond had dried up when Mr. Ivers visited here. After passing this ravine, you will find a soilless rock surface. Scattered throughout the rock surface are holes about 2 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 3 inches deep. These holes are randomly placed and show no regularity. These pits often appear to have been dug less than two yards away, sometimes even closer. Mr. Ivers hypothesizes that the pits may have had wooden pillars and a platform built on them.

Mr. HCP Bell states that the ravine at top of the rock is 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide. The Temple of the Tooth is located in this part of Beligala. Staircases carved in the rock indicate that this was connected by a bridge to the south side of the rock. The shrine where the real relics were kept may have been here and the devotees may have worshiped the relics across the moat at arm’s length.

Mr. Bell states that the irregular stone holes observed by Mr. Ivers in fact shows some order and that the holes have been used for various buildings.

බෙලිගල පර්වතයේ නටබුන් ස්ථාන පිළිබඳ දළ සටහනක් A rough sketch of the Beligala Rock and the ruins published by Ievers in 1886
බෙලිගල පර්වතයේ නටබුන් ස්ථාන පිළිබඳ දළ සටහනක්
A rough sketch of the Beligala Rock and the ruins published by Ievers in 1886

The Beligala outline drawn by Mr. Ivers marks the pond (C) to the west, but it is located more southwest between the bare rock and the royal palace (D). Its filled with water except during the dry season.

Mr. Bell notes that the palace (D) is correctly noted in Mr. Ivers’ diagram. Three rows of short pillars run back from the south on the highest side of the rock. The width between the pillars of these three rows is the same. That is, 10 feet, but the interspaces differ, the row on the left being 60 ft. from the central row, which is separated only by half that distance from the third on the right. This difference was accidental, and due to exigencies of space. The whole of the thirty stones of the left row (46 ft. in length) still remain in situ. According to the plan, the main hall, with bedrooms, warehouses, kitchens, and warehouses to the right and left, may have been built on a high mound behind the middle row.

According to Mr. Ivers’ notes, there are two ponds to the southeast of Beligala rock. One of them is a stone pond 25 feet long, 10 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Below that is a circular pond about 20 feet in diameter. This is constructed using a a large dam where large trees were growing on it. Mr. Ivers says both ponds were capable of holding water at time of his visit.

Mr. Ivers states there is a large cave on the northeast side of the rock. Near the small pond there is a 6 x 3 inch sign, mark, or letter cut on to the rock. Mr. Bell says this is a ancient marking of the Sinhala letter “ම”. He says that if the grass is completely removed, an inscription may be visible.

Mr. Bell says the area and the palace are on the same level and are adorned with small but dense trees. There is no doubt that this was done on purpose and it is speculated that it may have been a resting place for the queens.

Mr. Ivers says he had noticed a type of mountain paddy similar to “Al Wee” on top of this rock.

Mr. Bell has excavated the area known as the Temple of the Tooth, and among the various antiquities found nothing else other than few gold beads of a necklace and 37 copper coins of King Sahasamalla (1200-1202), Queen Lilavati (1209-1210) and King Dharmasoka Deva (1208-1209).

Mr. Ivers finally states ;

We have no information as to the destruction of the buildings on the Beligala, but I think we may safely ascribe them to the Portuguese, whose religious zeal would not tolerate even a deserted temple of the tooth-relic.


Beligala, second only to Sigiriya, which for many years was a great fort, a Temple of Tooth Relic, a royal palace and a large monastery, is today a paradise for treasure hunters without any hindrance. Due to the difficulty of climbing this rock, ordinary people or villagers rarely travel here.

Beligala has been designated as a archeological site by the Gazette Notification No. 92 dated December 28, 1973. The Department of Archeology states that this land is cleared twice a year through the Dedigama office. But the archaeological destruction reported here is enormous. Therefore, urgent steps should be taken to preserve this unique but very important Beligala Archaeological site.


  1. H.C.P බෙල් (සිංහල පරිවර්තනය කොත්මලේ කේ. බී. ඒ. එඩ්මන්ඩ් ), 2005. ලංකා පුරාවිද්‍යා ගවේෂණය කෑගල්ල දිස්ත්‍රික්කය පිලිබඳ වාර්තාව (Report On The Kegalle District – 1892 : සිංහල පරිවර්තනය). 1st ed. කොළඹ: පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තුමේන්තුව.
  3. GEIGER, W., 1929. Culavamsa Being the More Recent Part of Mahavamsa : Volume 2. London: Pali text Society.
  4. n.d. මහාවංසය සිංහල සංස්කරණය. 1st ed. දෙහිවල: බෞද්ධ සංස්කෘතික මධ්‍යස්ථානය.
  5. පණ්ඩිත කිරිඇල්ලේ කඥානවිමල හිමි, 1951. මයුරපාද පිරිවෙනාධිපති බුද්ධ පුත්‍රයන් වහන්සේ විසින් රචිත පූජාවලිය.
  6. 2021. රාජාවලිය – රාජාවලිය II – Wikibooks. [online] Available at: <රාජාවලියරාජාවලිය_ii> [Accessed 3 January 2021].
  7. 2021. එළු අත්තනගලු වංශ විවරණය- iii – Wikibooks. [online] Available at: <එළුඅත්තනගලුවංශවිවරණය-_iii> [Accessed 3 January 2021].
  8. 2021. රාජාරත්නාකරය-i – Wikibooks. [online] Available at: <රාජාරත්නාකරය-i> [Accessed 3 January 2021].

Also See

Map of Ruins of the Temple of Tooth on Beligala Rock

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Traveling Directions of Ruins of the Temple of Tooth on Beligala Rock

Ambepussa to Ruins of the Temple of Tooth on Beligala RockAmbepussa to Ruins of the Temple of Tooth on Beligala Rock
Through : Galigamuwa
Distance : 12km
Time to travel : 20 mins + hiking time
Time to spend : 30 -60 mins
Driving Directions : see Google Maps here
Through : Alawwa
Distance : 15km
Time to travel : 30 mins + hiking time
Time to spend : 30 -60 mins
Driving Directions : see Google Maps here


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