Discovering Kaludiya Pokuna in Dambulla

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Kalupokuna or the Kaludiya Pokuna is a site with extensive ruins of a monastery on the slopes of a range of hills known as Eravalagala (also called Perawelagala), about a mile and a half to the south-east of Kumbukkandanvala, in the Vagapanaha Pallesiya Pattu of the Matale District. This is not to be confused with the Kaludiya Pokuna of Mihintale.

This monastery has been organized as a Pabbatha Vihara as described by Mañjuśrībhāṣitavāstuvidyāśāstra with primary buildings built on a platform surrounded by a moat.

Kaludiya Pokuna has been organized as a Pabbatha Vihara architecture. Archaeologists believe that Pabbata Vihara was built by merging with a natural rock formation. These are built by arranging several rectangular building areas (courtyards) at different levels surrounded by water. In the upper courtyard itself are the four sacred buildings arranged in specific order. In the ancient architecture book ‘Manju Sri Bhashitha Vastuvidyawa” (මඤ්ජු ශ්‍රී භාෂිත වාස්තුවිද්‍යාව) written in Sanskrit, these buildings and standards are well explained. 

The basic feature of these monasteries is a large rectangular precinct or sacred quadrangle that contains the four major shrines, a stupa, a bodhighara, a patimaghara, and a prasada which has been identified as the uposathaghara. VijayaramayaPankuliya AsokaramayaPacina Tissa Pabbatha ViharayaPuliyankulama Pabbata Viharaya (Pubbaramaya)Toluvila, and Vessagiriya are the temples of this tradition in Anuradhapura. Kaludiya Pokuna (Dhakkinagiri Viharaya) in DambullaLahugala Magul Maha Viharaya, Menikdena, Pulukunava in the Gal Oya valley, a group of shrines at the foot of the rock at Sigiriya and Moragoda in Padaviya are the other provincial sites where Pabbata Vihara have been identified. (Bandaranayake, 1974).

The principal buildings of the monastery, which included a moderate-sized stupa and a structure supported by massive but roughly hewn stone pillars, were arranged on several terraces on the hillside and seemed to have been surrounded by a moat. As one ascends the hill, passing the terraced sites, the ground to the south and the east becomes rocky and among the huge granite boulders, there are twelve caves used in ancient days as dwelling places by Buddhist hermits. However, it is said that with this 40-hectare (100-acre) reserve, altogether 69 caves have been identified. About 750 feet to the south-west of the stupa, there is a rubble-faced pond, the muddy water which it is now filled with gives the whole site its modern name of “Kaludiyapokuna

Three inscriptions have been discovered at this site. The first one is inscribed on a plain guardstone of a flight of steps at the southern entrance to the maluwa of the stupa. This belongs to the 7th century AD and only a few letters are legible.

The second inscription is engraved on the rock wall of a cave situated about 400 ft. to the southwest of the stupa. It is written in script belonging to the 9th century. The engraving of the record is done in a somewhat careless manner; the letters are quite shallow and, in many instances, badly formed. But, owing to its sheltered position, the record is in a good state of preservation. ·According to Paranavithana, this inscription could be ascribed to King Sena II (853-887) or Kassapa IV (898-914), more probably to that of the earlier of the two.

From this inscription, we learn that this monastery was called Dakinagiri (Dakkina or Dakkinagiri) Monastery during the 9th century. The contents of this inscription tell the various gifts made by different individuals for the provision of food to the monastery. The major part of the record is concerned with the gift of a person named Dalana who invested twenty-three kalandas of gold for the daily supply of two admana of rice and one admana of curd. The stipulation made by the donor that the rice should not be given uncooked shows not much faith is placed in the bhikkhus of the monastery. It is also laid down that in case of dissension among the inmates of the monastery, the food intended for them should be thrown to crows and dogs. Evidently, Dalana was of the opinion that if the members of the bhikkhus quarreled amongst themselves, they were less worthy of the offerings of the pious than such animals.

According to Mahavamsa, the Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, King Saddhathissa (137-119 BC) is credited with building Dakkinagiri Viharaya (XXXIII:8) and again king Dhathusena (459-477) is also credited with building a Dakkinagiri Viharaya in Culavamsa (XXXVIII:47). King Aggabodhi I (575-608) had built a Uposthaghara building to the Dakkinagiridalha Viharaya (XLII:27) which could be a different viharaya and again Chulavamsa mentions the king Kassapa V ( 914-923) donating a village to Dakkinagiri Viharaya (LII:60).

The third inscription at Kaludiyapokuna is engraved on a slab standing near a ruined structure at a distance of about 250 feet to the south of the stupa. EPIGRAPHIAZ ZEYLANICA (vol III) places this partly damaged inscription to King Sena IV (954-956) and the name Dakkinagiri is mentioned in this inscription as well.

The Kaludiya Pokuna stupa was excavated and conserved in the 1979-80 period. The site of Kaludiya Pokuna lies 16 kilometers off Dambulla town passing the picturesque Kandalama wewa. The path lies through scrub jungles and paddy fields to the foot of the hill where the ruins lie. The site is very remote and chances are that you will not meet anybody at this remote and dissolute place other than a laborer or two who toil to keep the site from being engulfed by the jungle.


  1. Wickramasinghe, D. and Codrington, H., 1933. Epigraphia Zeylanica being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon : Vol III. 1st ed. London: Oxford University Press, p.253-269.
  2. De Silva, R. and Karunaratne, W., n.d. Administration report of the archaeological commissioner for the year 1979. 1st ed. Colombo: Department of the Government Printing, p.17-19.
  3. 2010. සිංහල මහාවංශය. 1st ed. Colombo: Buddhist Cultural Center.
  4. Mahānāma, Bode, M. and Geiger, W., 1912. The Mahavamsa or the great chronicle of Ceylon. 1st ed. London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press, p.250.
  5. Geiger, W., 1998. Cūlavaṃsa, being the more recent part of the Mahavamsa : Part 1. 2nd ed. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.
  6. NICHOLAS, C., 1963. Historical Topography of Ancient and Medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, Vol VI,(Special Number), p.111.
  7. Abhayavardhana, E., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata. 1st ed. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, pp.181-182.
  8. Powell, K., 2018. Rituals and Ruins: Recovering the History of Vajrayāna Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Master of Arts in South and Southeast Asian Studies. University of California, Berkeley.
  9. Okamura, T., 2015. RUINS IN CENTRAL EASTERN AREA OF SRI LANKA — at the jungle of Amban Ganga Basin and the outskirts —. Tokyo: South Asian
  10. Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture – The Viharas of Anuradhapura. Leiden: Brill.

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Travel Directions to   Kaludiya Pokuna of Dambulla

Route Dambulla to Kaludiya Pokuna
Distance :15 km
Travel time : 20 mins
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