Hulan Nuge Tharulengala Raja Maha Viharaya ( Tharulengala Forest Hermitage) on a 633 feet high rocky hill called Karadahela in Lahugala Divisional secretariat in Ampara district is a fine example of the grandeur of the ancient Digamdulla heritage. Built by King Kanvantissa before the 2nd centenary BC it has been developed constantly throughout the ancient Eastern history.
This temple has been known as the Karadahela Viharaya ( as the name of the rocky hills) and as Habutugala Viharaya in the ancient past. Currently functioning as a forest hermitage, today this temple covers over 20 acers of thick jungle scattered with stone ruins long since buried with time. Unfortunately no proper excavations have been carried out on this site by the Archaeology Department.
Today, the area is administrated by the Chief Prelate of the Kudumbigala forest monastery. Kudumbigala is about 40 kms west of the Kumana forest sanctuary in the Yala East National Park, dates back to the Third Century and was a reputed Buddhist monastery in the East.
Hulan Nuge Tharulengala Raja Maha Viharaya ( Tharulengala Forest Hermitage) has two unique attractions. The temple house A 41 foot reclining Buddha Statue Made out of bricks and clay which is considerd the 2nd oldest reclining buddha statue in the country. This statue lies in a drip ledge cave which is 175 feet long, 41 feet deep and 31 feet high drip ledged cave which serves as the main image house at the entrance of the temple. Unfortunately this statue has not escaped the treasure hunters and has been badly damaged by them.
Once the plastered and mural adorned inner walls and ceilings of this cave had given away to the perils of time revealing earlier drawings of Vedda community, who had called the caves their home prior to the construction of the monastery. The drawings include scenes of hunting, war and animal flocks, suggesting a pre historic life style that was long lost. The entrance to the cave is adorned with a simple rock carved stairway and a moonstone that lie in ruins today.
Climbing to the top of the summit there are two fairly newly built stupas, a Buddha statue and a natural pond. One stupa looks like the Sanchi Stupa in India, although much smaller.
To reach the second unique feature of this site, you need to go pass the stupas in to the jungle and walk about 1/2 a kilometer on a foot path. Here you will find the what is considered to be the longest drip ledge cave in Asia. This 512ft long drip ledged cave is 30ft wide and 82ft high at the highest point with eight levels in its interior. The signs of brick layered interiors and polished and cemented inner walls still remain within the cave indicating that the cave was utilized as worship or a gathering hall for the monks of the monastery.
Nearby this mammoth cave is another one of 200 feet length, drip ledged and constructed with the same interior finish, believed to have been used as a community quarter than an individual abode.
Hulannuge lies on the border of the Ampara and Moneragala districts. The village got its name from a huge nuga tree on a rocky hillock which used to create a screeching noise on windy days – thus the name ‘hulan’ (wind) ‘nuge’ (nuga tree). Hulannuge is a farming colony established in early 1943 with its main road constructed in 1936. Until the destruction of the Tamil LTTE terrorists this was one of the bordering Sinhalese villages which faced brunt of the terror of the LTTE and faced numerous attacks on the village.
Photos : curtsy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage
Map of Lahugala Hulannuge Tharulengala Rajamaha Viharaya
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Travel Directions to Lahugala Hulannuge Tharulengala Rajamaha Viharaya
Route from Colombo to Lahugala Hulannuge Tharulengala Rajamaha Viharaya
Route from Siyambalanduwa Junction to Lahugala Hulannuge Tharulengala Rajamaha Viharaya
|Through : Ratnapura – Balangoda – Wellawaya – Monaragala – Siyambalanduwa|
Distance : 294 km
Travel time : 7 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Distance : 14 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map