Reports of a Japanese Archaeology Team on Wila Oya – Budupatuna
Ruins of Budupatuna in Wila Oya hidden deep inside jungles of Monaragala was first reported by a Japanese archaeology team from Hosei University, Japan headed by Takashi Okamura in 1985. The team visited the site again in 1993 to find extensive damage to the statues by treasure hunters.
According to Takashi Okamura, when the site was discovered in 1985, it was reported to Department of Archeology and the team left to Japan. The Department of Archeology announced their findings and then went to confirmatory research. However, the expeditions were sent several times but could not reach the ruins. The matter was further complicated since Kotiyagala village was targeted by the LTTE and there was no proper research budget in the Archaeology Department. Therefore the Japanese team proposed a joint research to confirm the ruins and this visit happened in 1993.
Details of these visits did not make in to the general public until Dr Ashan Geeganage made the same arduous journey in 2012 to find the ruins further vandalized. The report was published on the web creating an interest in travellers and those interested in archaeology.
The site again came in to the limelight in 2020 when a number of TV news channels broadcasted video clips of the accidental discovery of the Budupatuna Ruins by a prominent Sri Lankan archaeologist generating fury of discussions about the accidental discovery of the already discovered ruins.
Two reports on the above two expeditions were published in “RUINS OF THE ANCIENT RUHUNA CIVILIZATION – in the jungle of Kumbukkan Oya Basin” in 1999 by Hosei University Exploration Club. These reports along with the photos are reproduced below.
Report of the 1985 Visit
Date: Aug. 15,1985
Staff: Sakai, Kataoka. Aida. Amano, Niwano, Yahapath hami, Karunasundara. Seneviratna
Location: The site is located at 5.8km east-southeast of HIBITILANGE GALA (see No.20 or 8 km northeast of RANATTAGALA (see No. 35). The site is not mentioned on the”Map”.
We proceeded northeastward from Kotiyagala passing through northern slope of Balagoda. At the distance of 3.5 km from Kotiyagala, we came across Wila Oya. Turing to the east for 6 km more, we reached the confluence of Kapuran Ela and Wila Oya. Further 7.8 km walking from here to downstream along Wila Oya. we could see a triangle-shaped stone in the river. Then we turned north for 20m into the forest, and there were remains of ancient Buddhist monuments.
General Information: The site is in the northern basin of Wila Oya. There are Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas (A). Dagoba (B), cornerstone (C, stone pillar (D) and (E). Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas are conspicuous among all the remains, Most of remains are weathered heavily except these statues. The remains of brick-built mound of dagoba had collapsed and it had been plundered by treasure hunters. There we found a few cornerstones and stone pillars. It can be speculated that there might be more buried underground. Outer walls could not be found out at the site. which might have been also be buried. Excavation by archaeologists should be carried out as soon as possible.
Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas (A)
Standing Buddha image at the center flanked by two Bodhisattva figures on either side, are carved in relief on the rock. Their feet are buried in the ground. Those statues are protected by the carved stone umbrellas from the rain. On the two side of this standing Buddha statue are images of Mahayana Bodhisattvas (see Photo A-3 and A-4).
Excluding the part buried in the ground. the image on the right hand side of the Buddha image. measures 1.5m high. Above the head of this is an umbrella carved in relief. He suffers from the worst damage among the three. while his facial contour is still distinct. He has lost parts of his body as well as left arm. He has swollen projections on both side of the waist (see Photo a-1 and Fig. a-1).
Buddha statue (a-2):
The image stands 2.15m high excluding the part buried in the ground. He has no stone umbrella. While having lost his both arms, the face of him retains contour clearly. The broken arms show mortise which may be open to join the lost hands (see Photo a-2 and Fig. a-2 Bodhisattva (a-3):
The Bodhisattva on the left hand side of the Buddha statue stands L.5m high excluding the part buried in the ground. Above the head of him is an umbrella carved in relief. While we could not find damage there, his surface as a whole had been weathered. Neither the detail of his facial contour nor that of his body is distinctly clear (see Photo a-3 and Fig . a-3).
Inspection by M. H. Sirisoma, former commissioner of the Department of Archaeology:
Standing Buddha image at the center flanked by two bodhisattva figures on either side. Above the heads of the two bodhisattvas are two stone umbrellas carved in relief. The figure on the right hand side of the Buddha image is the Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara as he wears a dhyana Buddha on his crest. The other boddhisattva too may be Avalokitesvara, or there is a symbol of a stupa on the crest, it may be Maitreya. The entire group may belong to 8th-10th centuries A. D.
Inspection by professor M. Konishi, professor of archaeology, Rikkyo Univ.:
The bodhisattva figure to the right hand side (a-1) of Buddha is likely to be Avalokitesvara Padmapani because he is right holding a lotus flower on his hand and a small figure of Amitabha on the crown. The other bodhisattva (a-3) can be Vajrapani or Akasagarbha, a figure which is normally placed as part of a pair, but its identity is not clear because of the lack of informations on what he holds in his left hand. If the image has a st~pa on his crown. he can be Maitreya as Mr. M. H. Sirisoma suggested. but it is impossible to determine due to the bad condition of the image.
A collapsed dagoba tB) constructed by bricks, measuring I0m across and 5m high, is found 16.5m west-northwest of the Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas(A). The shape of it is unknown. because it is heavily weathered. It had been plundered by treasure hunters. A lot of brick pieces are found around the site. Cornerstone (C) It lies 9m northeast of Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas (A). The size of the hole is 15cm long. 15cm wide and 10cm deep.
Stone pillar (D)
A short distance north, close to the Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas (A), there is a lying stone pillar(D). It measures 40cm wide and 240cm high (see Photo D).
Stone pillar (E)
At 3.3m north of the Buddha’s statue with Bodhisattvas (A) there are two stone pillars, which might have been consisted the gateway to the of Buddha’s statue. The distance between two stone pillars measures about 3m. The average of stone pillar is 30cm wide. 30cm long and 175cm high. A lot of brick pieces are found around the site.
Report of the 1993 Visit
Date: Aug. 15-16.1993.
Staff: Okamura. Shigyo. Takeuti, Sakai, Amano, Yamazaki. Seneviratna, Karunasundara. Geewaratna; D. Senarath, P.Pemasiri. A.E.L.Tilakawardana. B.A. Gaminikumara. K. Keerthi Sri Manatunga (Archaeological Department): J. Wijeratne (Lanka Deepa)
Location: The site is located 2.4km west-southwest of Kongaswewa, or 5.8km east-southeast of Hibitilange Gala. It is adjoining to the left bank, of the Wila Oya. The site is not mentioned on the “Map”.
N 6 45′ 45.3″
E 8I 39′ 38.8″
Proceeded southeast for 1.8km from Kotiyagala following the cart track. leading to Weheragoda Wehera. Then we turned to the northeastward and proceeded for further 4km, there was a river called Wila Oya. Proceeding 8km from here downstream along the river. passing through the point where two trees form an arch. The trees grow from both sides of the river, forming an arch. We reached the confluence of the Kapuran Ela and Wila Oya. Further 7.8km walking downstream along Wila Oya. we can see a triangle stone in the river. Then we turned north for 20m into the forest, and there were remains of ancient Buddhist monuments.
The site is on the northern side of small rock hill measuring 30m across and 1Om high. There are remains of Buddh a statue with Bodhisattvas (A). Dagoba (B) and stone pillar structure (C). The Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas were found in 1985, covered by earth and fallen leaves up to their knees. After eight years interval, our team visited the site again, but all the remains have been plundered by treasure hunters seriously. The work by treasure hunters was well organized: pillars were set to cage the images with scaffolding: the central Buddha statue lost parts of its head and hands; the head of the Bodhisattva to the right hand side of Buddha was struck away: the ground was dug beneath these feet as deep as 2m and the base stone structure was exposed. The broken head of Bodhisattva was lying near by. We could not find out a broken head of Buddha statue. The remains of building construction (part of a brick wall now exposed as deep as Im beneath the surface) indicate existence of a greater amount of archaeological remains than formally expected. Therefore it is necessary lo carry out further investigations and preservation by archaeologists as soon as possible.
Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas(A) Those stone images carved on the rock feature three-dimensional figures. They face away from the river. The images are carved on the rock. measuring 6m high and 5.5m wide, bears two U-shaped gutters carved horizontally in parallel. Those gutters, measuring 10cm deep 10cm wide and 5m long. were used to collect rain water on the rock. It must be noted that the ground in front of the images was dug 5m long 3m wide 2m deep by treasure hunters. A lot of brick and tile fragments are found within it, suggesting us that these images had been originally housed in a roofed building that was probably built adjoining to the rock wall (see Diagram and Photo A).
It is located to the right hand side of Buddha statue (a-2). While some parts of the image, such as head and arms, have been spoiled by treasure hunters, the lower half of the body remains more or less intact. The image measures 1.96m high 0.65m wide and wide and 0.3m thick. The pedestal is two-layered. measuring 78cm wide and 21cm high. The pedestal is head. lying on the ground, wears a weathered dhvani Buddha on his crest. Prof. Masatoshi Konishi inferred that the image is likely to be Avalokitesvara. because he is holding a lotus flower in his hand and is crowned with a small figure of Amitabha.
Buddha statue (a-2)
This Buddha statue is located in the center of the three images, the largest of three. It measures 0.75m wide and 2.5m high. He stands on three-layered pedestal, of which the two bear lotus shaped carvings. The pedestal measures 1.18m wide and 0.37m high. His head and feet have been despoiled by treasure hunters. His arms are also so damaged that it is impossible to identify their original shapes. The drapery with which the statue is covered from its right shoulder retains elegant lines of fold.
It is located to the left hand side of Buddha statue (a-2). Of the three, this image has suffered the least damage and especially. his arms are best preserved. The right palm is raised to the front. and the left holding an uncertain object. Since he is crowned with some cone-shaped item, he can be Maitreya. The image measures 204cm high. 60cm wide and 40cm thick. The pedestal is two-layered, measuring 65cm wide and 24cm high.
The site is located 16.5m north-northwest of Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas(A). It is a mound of bricks measuring 1 Om across and 5m high. It had been plundered by treasure hunters. A lot of brick pieces are found around the site. The thick accumulation of the surrounding area made it difficult to detect any remains related to the underground structure.
Stone pillared structure (C)
The site is located 3.3m north of Buddha statue with Bodhisattvas (A). There are two standing stone pillars in parallel with the images. They are spaced out 3m apart. facing each other. There we found an additional pillar lying between the images and a standing pillar to the west. The average of stone pillars is 170cm high and 30cm wide. We can see a lot of brick and tile fragments around the site, suggesting us that this stone pillar structure may be a part of a roofed building for the adjoining images.
- 1999. RUINS OF THE ANCIENT RUHUNA CIVILIZATION – in the jungle of Kumbukkan Oya Basin. Tokyo: Hosei University Exploration Club.
- Budupatuna – Losing Heritage of Wila Oya – විලඔයේ සැඟවුන බුදුපටුන නටබුණ්
- Ancient Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka