Maligawila Buddha Statue and and Dambegoda Bodhisattva Statue (මාලිගාවිල පිළිම)

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Maligawila is a remote village in the Moneragala District which lies about 15 kilometers off the Buttala town towards Okkampitiya. In 1928, Mr. Holcart had visited Maligawila and six years later in 1934, the first Archaeogist Dr. Paranavitana visited and documented the massive Buddha Statue and the Bodhisattva Statue broken into pieces in the Jungles of Maligawila. These statues were further damaged by treasure hunters (Uduwara, 1992).

Later, in 1951 this site was cleared of its vegetation and in the debris was found the headgear of the massive figure. That was an important find as it provided a clue towards the identification of this colossus which symbolises a stupendous sculptural achievement of the ancients. It has been identified with Maitreya Bodhisattva and Dr. Godakumbure who was in charge of this work site held the view that Maligawila and Dambegoda formed a composite single religious establishment in the olden days. According to him, Dr. Parenavitane had been of the opinion that this institution was the ancient Ariyakara Vihara mentioned in the Culavamsa, ch. 45. 60-63. (Uduwara, 1992)

An attempt was made in 1974 to raise this statue and failed. But in 1980, then President Ranasinge Premadasa assigned a local engineering team who was able to raise this statue and restore it back to its ancient glory.

Maligawila Buddha Statue is carved out of a single limestone rock and stands about 14.5 meters high. This is the tallest free-standing Buddha image in ancient Sri Lanka.

The remains of a foundation around this statue indicate a massive image house built around this statue. This image house is approx 20 meters in length and width with 1.2 meter thick brick walls. This would have been as tall as 20 meters.

About 500 meters away from the Maligawila Buddha Statue is another image carved from a single rock. This is thought to be the image of the Maithree Natha Bodhisattva also sometimes identified as Avalokithswara Bodhisattva. This image is also called the Dambegoda Bodhisattva statue. This statue is 9.85 meters tall and weighs about 40 tons.

The Dambegoda Bodhisattva Statue was discovered fallen from its pedestal with its face down but intact. The statue had been broken into several pieces by the fall. After this discovery, treasure hunters blew up the  Dambegoda Statue into fragments using dynamite looking for hidden treasures. This statue was finally restored by the Department of Archeology in 1990.

Just left to the stairway to the Bodhisattva statue you will find a pillar inscription protected by a newly built structure. This stone pillar was placed by King Mahinda IV (956-972 AD) in his 10th year of reign. This inscription records the work done by the king for the upliftment of Buddhism and has some rules laid down by him in the Administration of Buddhist sites. See more details of the Dambegoda Pillar Inscription here.

References

  • Uduwara, J. (1991) ‘SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE DAMBEGODA LITHIC RECORD’, in Epigraphia Zeylanica : Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon – Volume VI (part II). Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka, pp. 140–153.

Also See

Map of Maligawila Buddha Statue and Dambegoda Bodhisattva Statue

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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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Travel Directions to Maligawila Buddha Statue and Dambegoda Bodhisattva Statue

You can reach the site from either Wellawaya or Kataragama depending on which route you take.

You can reach Wellawaya through several routes. If you are coming from Badulla or Bandarawela you must take the Ella Road which lies between Badulla-Bandarawela Road. On the way, you will also pass the beautiful Ravana Ella too. There is another road from Beragala. Taking this road will take you through the 220-meter-high Diyaluma waterfall. Koslanda lies between the Balangoda – Haputhale Road.

If you are coming from Kataragama, use the Buttala Road and the turn-off is just before the Buttala main junction. The temple is about 20 km from the turn-off from Buttala. From Buttala any person can direct you to the temple.

Route from Colombo to Maligawila Buddha Statues Route from Kataragama to Maligawila Buddha Statues
Through : Southern Expressway
Distance : 317
Travel time : 5 hours
Driving directions : see on Google map
Through : Buttala
Distance : 63 km
Travel time : 1-1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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