Miella (Myella) Kanda Ancient Caves at Kotiyagala – මයිල්ල කන්ද ගුහාව නටබුන්

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Miella (Myella) Kanda Ancient Cave Temple

Main Cave of the temple

Take the Moneragala-Siyambalanduwa highway. Turn off at Kodayana and go up to Kotiyagala. Walk along a jungle track for six miles and you reach two large caves on the slope of a mountain called Miella kanda.

This huge cave shrine has a recumbent Buddha image made of brick and clay. Its head, chest and lower section have been damaged by treasure hunters, but the parts that are intact indicate that it is a pure white statue with flowing robes. It is typical of the Anuradhapura period statues.

The ceiling of this cave is completely covered with a series of paintings centering on the recumbent Buddha statue. Among the paintings are exquisite designs, some very uncommon compared with early paintings like Sigiriya. Then there are the female figures similar to the Apsaras at Sigiriya and Vessagriya.

Looking for material for a publication on Sinhala Buddhist art, renowned photographer Gamini Jayasinghe and a keen student of archaeology Dharmasena Rassapana accompanied by well-known artist Kusana Manjusri did the trek to the Miella caves and found the the place fascinating. They also found a cave with visuals of prehistoric or Veddah rock art. “One was a sketch of a figure riding an elephant. It looked like a primitive form of art done with the finger immersed in clay or ash in white,” author Rassapana explained.

Elephants figure prominently in these cave paintings. “We noticed four distinct features in them. One elephant is engaged in water sports, another is carrying a lotus in its trunk. A third gives the impression it is ready to run. Lastly the frontal view of a moving elephant is shown. In the middle of an intricate ceiling design, there is also an elephant within a circle with its tail bent.”

Sunday Times
photos courtesy of Dr Ashan Geeganage

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Travel Directions to Miella Kanda Rock Temple

Miella Kanda lies about 6 km south to the Kotiyagala Colany inside the thick jungle. Kotiyagala can be reached by turning off towards Wattegama from the 174th mile post on the Buttala – Pothvil road. Kotiyagala lies about 12 km down this road.

You will need the service of a local guide to take take you through the jungle to the Miella Kanda Ruins.

Route from Colombo to Wattegama

Through : Ratnapura – Beragala – Wellawaya – Buttala – Monaragala
Distance : 285
Travel time : 6 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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