Archaeological Ruins at Kuchchaveli Masanwewa Viharaya

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Masanvewa is another ancient Buddhist monastery hidden in the Trincomalee Kuchchaveli forest which its under threat from Hindu extremists. There are many such ruins in Kuchchaveli forest. Sembumale . Bambaragala, Debaragala are some of these. A Hindu kovil had been already setup among the ruins using the Buddhist ruins themselves. It is not the local Tamil people who are responsible for this, but the Tamil politicians who have used racism as a weapon. If we as Buddhists do not at least visit these ancient shrines, soon all these places will be taken over by these extremists.

Kuchchaveli is located about 30 km north of Trincomalee. Masanwewa Rajamaha Vihara is located 8 km inland from Kuchchaveli. If you travel to Girihada Saya from the entrance road in front of the police station in Kuchchaveli, you will pass by Pinbadugama where this ruined archeological site is located. The road to this archeological site is near the 8th kilometer post on this road. Next to this post, a small gravel road runs to the left. After going about 100 meters on this road, you can reach these ruins.

The first visit to this archeological site was in the 1970s by Mahanayake Ahungalle, the Mahanayake of the Amarapura Siri Saddhammavamshika Maha Nikaya. He saw how the ancient Buddhist heritage which was been systematically been wiped out by the extremists and searched Buddhist ruins in this area to protected them. It is this monk who found Sembumale archeological site in the middle of the forest about 2 km south-east of Masanwewa and registered it as the Chetiyagiri Purana Rajamaha Viharaya, and  also protected the Kuchchaveli Pichchamal Vihara .

When he came to this area, the first place of his residence was the ancient Rajamaha Vihara of Elandakulama (Masanvewa) in Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretariat Division. Then this place was completely covered with jungle unlike today. Along with Ranbanda, an uasaka, he built a shed with coconut leaves and built a tree house on top of a big palm tree to spend the night, and he started living here.

A few years later, Lanka Plywood Corporation has helped in the development and maintenance of this temple on the advice and guidance of Mr. Cyril Mathew who was the then Minister of Science and Industry.

There are reports that from 1979 to 1984, the Sembumale archaeological site was a large work site of archaeological department. Therefore, it is possible that the ruins of Masanwewa were also preserved during this period. Today, the area where a stupa is located has been preserved. This stupa is situated on a square platform. Sri Patul stone seats are set up in the four directions.

After liberating this area from the LTTE terrorists, young monk named Keppeti thero is working to protect it. He is a disciple of Siri Seelawisuddhi thero of Ahungalla.

This stupa is surrounded by forest from all four directions. A brick Bodhighara is found in this forested area. A stone seat is found near the Bodhighara . Keppeti thero says that this seat has been destroyed by treasure hunters or by a bomb planted by terrorists.

There are ruins of ancient temple buildings to the south of Bodhighara. These are also well explored by treasure hunters. However the ruined stone pillars and such are still found buried in the forest.

There is a small hillock close to this stupa. There are ruins of a big stupa on it. This stupa is completely destroyed. Not far from this rock, you can see the ancient Masanwewa reservoir. There is no water here now. During the reign of LTTE terrorists in this area, their main route passed through this lake. Cappeti Thero says that they have cut the tank bunt to allow for vehicles to cut through the reservoir.

If you are going to visit Girihadu Saya, don’t forget to visit Masanwewa Rajamaha Vihara too. It will provide the strength to those fighting to protect it.

Also See

Map of Kuchchaveli Masanwewa Rajamaha Viharaya

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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 of Kuchchaveli Masanwewa Rajamaha Viharaya

Driving Directions from Kuchchaweli to Kuchchaveli Masanwewa Rajamaha Viharaya
Via :Nilaweli
Total Distance : 8 Kms
Travel Time : 15 Minutes
Time to Spend : Around 1 Hour
Driving Directions : View on Google Map

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