Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins at Etambagaskada (ඇටඹගස්කඩ කිරිවෙහෙර රජමහා විහාරය)

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The are a number of villages by the name of Etambagaskada and many temples by the name of Kiri Vehera. But the Kiri Vehera at Etambagaskada lies in the Vavuniya district. It is said that the jungles of Etambagaskada are scattered with Buddhist ruins only known to old villagers. This village along with other Sinhalese villages around Mamaduwa had been evacuated for many years since 1983 due to LTTE terrorist attacks until the end of the war. Most of these ruins have been destroyed by the Tamil LTTE Terrorists and whatever escaped the terrorists by relic hunters after the war. Unfortunately, even up to today, these sites are being plundered freely by various groups.

The ruins of Kiri Vehera lie behind the Sri Sudharmarama Maha Viharaya.  Although not located in the jungles, this site too has not been protected by the authorities. According to historian Medhananda Thero, there should have been a stupa at this site but there is not even an indication of a stupa.  11 pillars of an ancient building have been protected by the villagers. These pillars are about 8 inches x 8 inches and rise up to about 8 feet from the ground.

Limestone image from the 1983 report of Cyril Mathew
Limestone image from the 1983 report of the late Cyril Mathew

The head of a broken standing Buddha statue lies on a pair of feet.  The eyes of this statue are hollow, indicating that gems have been embedded in the eyes in the past.

Another headless granite standing Buddha statue lies among the ruins. The statue is broken into 3 pieces but would have been about 6 feet in height.

According to the famous appeal report to UNESCO in 1983,  to safeguard the cultural properties of Sri Lanka, this statue has been destroyed by the vandals and not by time. According to his report, the is another rare limestone Samadhi Buddha statue has been found at this site (see above picture). This statue is unique due to the fact that the halo around the Buddha’s head (Ras Walalla) too is carved out of the same rock. The statue is about 4½ feet in height with a 14-inch halo. It was discovered in the 1930s by a villager in the remote village called Ruwanmaduwa close to  Etambagaskada and has been brought to this temple. Today this statue takes a prime location at the new Vavuniya Museum in the town.

Three archaeological pieces kept inside the Sri Sudharmarama Maha Viharaya deserve mention. They are a footprint slab (Siri Pathul Gala), Buddha in meditation and a slab inscription. This Siripathul Gala 1′.10″ x 1′.10″ in size also has the same qualities as the above-said print. Its toe prints too are not prominent.

References

  • වීරසිංහ එස්. පී. එස්. (2014) අපේ වැව්නියාව – වව්නියා දිස්ත්‍රික්කයේ සිංහලයන්ගේ පුවත. කොළඹ, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව: විසිදුණු ප්‍රකාශකයෝ.
  • Medhananda, E. (2005) The Sinhala Buddhist Heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Dayawansa Jayakody & Company.

Also See

Map of Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins at Etambagaskada

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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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Travel Directions to Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins at Etambagaskada

Route from Vavuniya up to Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins at Etambagaskada
Distance : 7 km
Travel time : 20 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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