Gamini Tissa Monastery complex in Mottagala (මොට්ටගල ගාමිනී තිස්ස ආරාම සංකීර්ණයේ නටබුන්)

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Gamini Tissa  Monastery is a large Buddhist monastery complex which has existed since the per-Christian times in the Ampara District.

The Brahmi inscriptions found on the Mottagala Rock (aka Mottayagala Rock) in Gamini Tissa   Monastery have been published by the prominent archaeologist Professor Senarath Paranawithana in “Inscriptions of Ceylon Part – II” and he had placed these inscriptions to be between 3rd and 1st century BC (487th inscription).  Based on the archaeological evidence, this aramic complex has flourished from the 3rd century BCE throughout the reigns of King Mahanaga, Gotabhaya, Yatalathissa and King Kavanthissa.

The inscription on the Mottagala Rock speaks of a ruler named Upathara Naga Naga, who is a member of the Dasabhabika royal lineage of the east establishing the monastery the inscription is one of the very few which provides an insight into the Dasabhabika royal lineage, who had been provincial rulers under the kings of Anuradhapura. Ancient records provide very little in-depth into these proud rulers and inscriptions in Bowattegala and Mottagala are among the very few clues to this dynasty.

Gamini Tissa   Monastery complex lies in the area called Mottagala, about 10kms from Akkaraipattu in a predominately Muslim and Tamil area. The area is also sometimes referred to as Mottayagala, Mottiyawala and Mottiya Kallu. The Mottiyagala Rock lies surrounded by paddy fields all belonging to Muslims and Tamils.

Away from the public eye due to the LTTE terrorist’s activities in the past, this complex was exposed to the public when a Muslim owner of the paddy fields around Mottiagala Rock bulldozed an ancient stupa lying at the bottom of this rock in 2012 in the pretext of expanding the paddy field. This event happened between 31st August and 3rd September. On the 3rd it was reported that the stupa which was over 2300 years old had disappeared completely and a massive public outcry of the destruction of the eastern heritage was seen.

The Buddhist priests and reporters who visited the site could not find any trace of this stupa other than pieces of ancient bricks lying everywhere. The relics which had been deposited in this stupa have also disappeared along with the stupa.

Photos of the bulldozed 1st stupa site

Meanwhile, the monastery grounds still contain ruins of smaller stupas, stone pillars and foundations of ancient constructions, stone inscriptions of the pre-Brahmin era and a well dug into the rock plateau, which is an eternal source of water.

About 3 months later after this shameful event, Sagama Seya, the largest remaining stupa in the Gamini Tissa  Monastery complex which was lying further away from the Mottagala was again Bulldozed cutting straight through the stupa and the relic chamber. This stupa too lies in the middle of Muslim-owned paddy fields in the area known as Urakkai. All the relics have been stolen but due to the intervention of the small Buddhist community in Akkaraipattu, the total destruction of the stupa has been avoided. By the time police apprehended 7 suspects along with a bulldozer, they had been digging through the stupa for 3 continuous days.

Subsequently, the police recovered a golden casket, a marble casket, 8 rings and 31 beads which have been stolen from the relic chambers of the stupa.

Photos of the bulldozed second stupa site

Stolen treasures discovered by the police from the second bulldozed stupa of Gamini Tissa Monastic Complex
Stolen treasures discovered by the police from the second bulldozed stupa of Gamini Tissa Monastic Complex
Image source :

To reach Mottagala, travel 8km from Akkaraipattu on the Sagama Road. Then turn right and take the road going along the steam for 1 km. From there turn right and cross over paddy fields to reach the site. Its advisable to obtain a service of a Sinhalese from Akkaraipattu or Ampara since it’s very unlikely that you will get any directions from the surrounding villagers.

Also See

Map of Gamini Thissa Monastery complex in Mottagala

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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 Ruins of Gamini Tissa Monastery complex in Mottagala

Route from Ampara to Gamini Tissa Monastery complex in Mottagala
Distance : 31 km
Travel time :45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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