Eth Vehera Stupa in Mihintale Monastery (ඇත් වෙහෙර)

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Set apart from the pilgrims’ way is the trek to Eth Vehera. It commands some of the best views of the surrounding area.

Eth Vehera or the stupa of the elephant is part of the Mihintale range of mountains consisting of three main hills. The hill crowned by the Eth Vehera is believed to be the highest point of the Mihintale range.

The ruins of the brick built stupa on the summit are comparatively small, the diameter at its base being about 27 meters. History does not seem to record the origin of this stupa or the person responsible for erecting it. Its very name is a subject of speculation. Professor J. B. Dissanayaka believes that it may have formed an important part of the monastic establishment known as Eth Vehera on the mountain.

The Mihintale tablets of Mahinda IV refer to this Eth Vehera complex. The slab inscription of Kasaapa V distinguishes it from the Cetiyagiri or Segiri monastery on the same mountain.

The climb along the long flight of steps leading to its summit is a rewarding experience. The narrow steps winding its way upwards make art in its very simplicity. However, the pleasure it affords you depends on the time of the day you choose to experience it.

An early morning walk along this way is highly recommended. As you climb through the forest the monkeys may be just waking up and the early birds are out looking for their worms. The morning may seem to be rejoicing in the bird calls, so varied and melodious that for the city dweller’s ears, it is a surprising treat. And if you take time to look down upon the dry leaves and grasses the complex colors and designs of a variety of insects may leave you beyond explanation.

Tall trees shade you protectively part of the way and then suddenly abandon you to wild grasses when you climb higher, making you wonder, realize, and appreciate even better the unending panoramic splendor exposed.

The steps also begin to give way to a sloping rock slab with foot holes cut into it to accommodate the inexperienced climber. All the while you climb the view around you seems to be unfolding better and bigger scenery. The Maha Seya the Ambastala plateau, and the Aradhana gala can be seen and with binoculars, you can make out some of the other historic attractions of the Mihintale complex.

Right back of it all merging with the skyline, lie the waters of the Mahakandara. I always enjoy the very first glimpse of this view – the not-so-clear between-and-through-the-trees view from somewhere along the middle of the climb.

This, of course, is not the best view but there is a certain magic in this vague picture, or maybe the attraction lies in the promise it holds of the bigger and better picture yet to come when you keep persevering upwards. From the summit, you overlook a view of the Kaludiya Pokuna Complex. The Kaludiya Pokuna or the black water pond glows, reflecting the mountains around it.

The many ruins of buildings surrounding it, can all be seen and identified. Further ahead the delightful rocky formations of the Rajagiri-kanda can be recognized. As you stand at this ‘top of the world’ breathing deep in its morning mountain air and experiencing its rugged winds you feel that you are a very special being to have been touched by it all.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

Also See

Map of the Eth Vehera Stupa in Mihintale Monastery

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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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Traveling Directions to Eth Vehera Stupa in Mihintale Monastery

Mihintale can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttalam you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Mihintale. 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 Mihintale (A3)Route 02 from Colombo to Mihintale
Through : Central Expressway – Badagamuwa – Dambulla
Distance: 223 km
Travel Time: 4.45 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google maps
Distance:15 km
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Route 03 from Colombo to Mihintale Route from Anuradhapura to Mihintale
Through: Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance: 231 km
Travel Time: 5.15 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Through: Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance: 231 km
Travel Time: 5.15 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map

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