This is an ancient stupa belonging to the Kota Vehera Style lying on the Monaragala – Potvuil main road.
There are 4 identified Kota Vehera stupas around the country with minor differences.
- Dadigama Kota Vehera
- Deliwala Kota Vehera at Rambukkana
- Damila Maha Seya at Polonnaruwa
- Lahugala Kota Vehera
The massive Yudaganawa Stupa in Buttala was also thought to be a Kota Vehera but later studies have found this has been a complete stupa at one time.
Lahugala Kota Vehera has also been known as Kota Pabbatha, Kotagala Vehera and Lahugala Chethiya (Stupa). This complex is also said the have the largest image house ever found in the Rununa.
It is the general belief that this was the home for the novice monk who was reborn as King Dutugemunu. and this stupa was built to commemorate the birth of King Dutugemunu (161-131 BC).
Mahavamsa, The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka describes how a novice Buddhist monk who lived in the Kotapabbatha (which is believed to be Lahugala Kota Vehera) fell critically ill and how the queen Viharamahadevi made a wish to him to become her son.
” ……… In the monastery named Kotapabbata there lived at that time a samanera, pious in his way of life, who was ever busied with various works of merit.
To mount the more easily to the courtyard of the Akasacetiya he fixed three slabs of stone as steps. He gave (the bhikkhus) to drink and did services to the brotherhood. Since his body was continually wearied a grievous sickness came upon him. The grateful bhikkhus, who brought him in a litter, tended him at the Tissarama, in the Silapassayaparivena.
Always when the self-controlled Vihäradevi had given lavish gifts to the brotherhood in the beautifully prepared royal palace, before the mid-day meal, she was used to take, after the meal, sweet perfumes, flowers, medicines and clothing and go to the arama and offer these (to the bhikkhus) according to their digrity.Now doing thus, at that time, she took her seat near the chief thera of the the community (in the vihara) and when expounding the true doctrine the thera spoke thus to her: `Thy great happiness thou hast attained by works of merit; even now must thou not grow weary of performing works of merit.’ But she, being thus exhorted, replied: `What is our happiness here, since we have no children? Lo, our happiness is therefore barren!’
The thera, who, being gifted with the six (supernormal) powers, foresaw that she would have children, said: `Seek out the sick samanera, O queen.’ She went thence and said to the samanera, who was near unto death: `Utter the wish to become my son; for that would be great happiness for us.’ And when she perceived that he would not the keen-witted woman commanded, to this end, great and beautiful offerings of flowers, and renewed her pleading.When he was yet unwilling, she, knowing the right means, gave to the brotherhood for his sake all manner of medicines and garments and again pleaded with. him. Then did he desire (rebirth for himself in) the king’s family, and she caused the place to be richly adorned and taking her leave she mounted the car and went her way. Hereupon the samanera passed away, and he returned to a new life in the womb of the queen while she was yet upon her journey; when she perceived this she halted. She sent that message to the king and returned with the king. When they two had both fulfilled the funeral rites for the samanera they, dwelling with collected minds in that very parivena, appointed continually lavish gifts for the brotherhood of bhikkhus. …. “
The stupa stands on a rock, steep on one side. A flight of steps leads to it. Before restoration, the bricks were strewn all over, around the large mound that was once a stupa. The central part of the structure was dug by treasure seekers. The polished stone slabs of the relic chamber were visible.
Ruins of two buildings are found on the top of the hill, to the side of the stupa. Some stone pillars are seen erect as well as fallen. The beautiful pillar caps need mentioning. They resemble the same style as the Mayura Prasada pillars at Anuradhapura.
Near the flight of steps numbering more than 150, an inscription is found with the words ‘Vavigamakahi Terasa‘. As the other lines are unreadable one cannot get a clear idea of what it says: but we can assume that the flight of steps was a construction of the above thera.
To the right side of the rock, we find several caves. Bears and leopards live in them. The biggest cave is second in size to the Budulena at Karandahela. Drip Ledges (Brow Ridges) were cut; the cave is divided into four apartments. Dilapidated walls are seen but no statues were seen.
The site has been neglected due to 30 years of Terrorist War the country faced. The Buddhists in the surrounding area were either killed or chased off by the Tamil Terrorists and the site has become part of the jungle. The remaining ruins were either exposed to the natural forces or destroyed by treasure hunters. With the terrorists destroyed, now the Buddhists all around the country can visit the Buddhist heritage in the north and east after 30 years.
- Medhananda, E. (2005) The Sinhala Buddhist Heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Dayawansa Jayakody & Company.
Map of Lahugala Kota Vehera
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 Lahugala Kota Vehera
The site lies about 8 km before Pothuvil and 23.5 km off Siyamalanduwa.
|Route from Colombo to Lahugala Kota Vehera
|Through : Ratnapura – Balangoda – Beragala – Wellawaya – Buttala – Monaragala – Siyabanduwa
Distance :305 km
Travel time :7 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map