Kuragala Buddhist monastery at Balangoda (ඓතිහාසික කූරගල)

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Kuragala is a vast Buddhist monastery complex 18 km off Balangoda on the Kaltota road. This complex covers a number of rock outcrops which is collectively known as Kuragala. The ruins of the complex date back to the 2nd century BC and have been declared an archeological reserve by the government. The Monastery covers 30-40 rock caves, some capable of holding 2000-3000 people.

According to archaeologist Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero, this monastery has been called ‘Thandulayia Pabbatha‘ in ancient times.

Unfortunately, this archeology reserve was taken over by Muslim fundamentalists in the late 20th century and was the process of systematically destroying all the evidence of the 2000-year-old Buddhist heritage from Kuragala.

The ancient Brahmin inscriptions on the rocks are being destroyed by applying concentrated acid and two caves have already been converted into mosques. The Brahmin inscriptions on these caves which are considered some of the oldest in Sri Lanka have been covered by cement and concrete. Houses have been built right next to sign boards declaring the site as a protected archeological reserve with no regard. These Muslims claim that a mullah called Dafter Abdul Jailany stayed in the place some thousands of years ago. The Buddhist priest who was in charge of the Buddhist temple has fled the area due to violence and threats from the Muslim encroaches.

Unfortunately, the government is turning a blind eye to all this destruction on the Kuragala Archeological site due to pressure from small-minded Muslim politicians.

In 2013, the archeological department finally woke up from slumber and decided to demolish all unauthorized buildings, relocate all the people, and reclaim the archeological land. New research was initiated including tracing all the inscriptions in rock caves and carrying out excavations. However, this attempt too faced a natural death with powerful forces blocking these activities.

However, in February 2021, the temple was handed over to Ven. Rajakeeya Panditha Wataddara Gnanissara Nayake better known as Nelligala Hamuduruwo is now going through another revival. The reconstruction of this Sacred Area under the theme ‘Yali Pibidena Kuragala’ (Reviving Kuragala) commenced. 

A monastery, a Sacred Relics House, and a Bodhi Pavilion will also be constructed. A huge Buddha statue will also be erected here. A 500-foot-high staircase is planned to be built. A large lion statue is currently being erected to adorn the staircase. The purpose of erecting this lion statue is to pay tribute to all those who saved the Kuragala Sacred Area from pagans from 1971 to 2021 and returned it to the Buddhist community. A reservoir called ‘Kuragala Wewa’ will also be constructed here. 

Since this area is replete with religious artifacts, all constructions are done with the approval of the Department of Archeology and it has been decided to carry out construction work on the existing rock plateau in this Kuragala area and preserve the sites where such historical evidence is presumed to have been found. Therefore, it has been decided to carry out all constructions on the flat black rock plateau in this area under the supervision of the Archaeological Department.

Kuragala buddhist monastery
image source : sinhalabuddhist.com
Kuragala buddhist monastery
Concentrated acid pored on valuable Dewanagala Stone Inscription
image source : sinhalabuddhist.com
Photos courtesy of : Dr Ashan Geeganage

Also See

Also See

Map of Kuragala Buddhist monastery

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 Kuragala archeological reserve

Route from Thanamalwila to Kuragala Archeological Reserve Route from Thanamalwila to Kuragala archeological reserve
Through : Awissawella – Ratnapura – Balangoda – Kaltota
Distance :170 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Angunukolapalessa
Distance : 55 km
Travel time : 1.5 – 2 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map

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One thought on “Kuragala Buddhist monastery at Balangoda (ඓතිහාසික කූරගල)

  1. what a great and helpful article about Kuragala Temple! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learned so much about the temple’s history and significance. Thank you for sharing such valuable information

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