Miella (Myella) Kanda Buddhist Ruins in Kotiyagala – මයිල්ල කන්ද ගුහා නටබුන්

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Miella (Myella) Kanda Ancient Cave Temple
Main Cave of the temple

Out of the may ancient Buddhist sites in th remote Kotiyagala area, Miella Kanda (Myella Kanda) is one of the most known sites due to the ruins of the large recumbent buddha statue inside a rock shelter and the well preserved Vedda Cave art in the shelters.

The ruins of this site surrounds the Miella (Myella) rock which extends over 1.2 km north to south. Its 78 meters high at the peak. There is a unrecognizable platform at the peak due to been heavily weathered. However due to its location this is possibly an ancient stupa. This structure measures 9 meters across and 2 meters high. Remaining part of the platform indicates that it has been rectangular measuring 7 meters east to west.

The land area between Monaragala and Yala northern border is filled with remote villages who mainly survive on paddy and Chena cultivations. Most of the land is covered in jungles and rock formations of various size an height rise at various locations. At most of these rock formations, you will find remains of ancient Buddhist monasteries providing a glimpse of the past of this area. Most of the ruins are not even reported but a research party headed by Takashi Okamura from Hosei University in Japan had made 2 research visits in 1985 and 1993 and has documented a significant number of hidden ruins in this area.

On the southern slope of the rock hill, there are six patahas (F,G, H, I, J and K). A rock shelter (E) is found at the half way down the northern slope of the rock hill. About 0.9km southwest apart from the Mailla rock hill, there is a low rock hill which extends over 300 meters from southwest to northeast. There you find a rock cave (A), and uncertain structure (B) and a pataha (C).

This cave is the most popular of all the ruins. A brick and clay built recumbent Buddha statue and wonderful wall paintings are seen in the rock cave (A). The statue and the wall paintings have been restored by the Archaeological Department. The rock cave has two parts of entrance. The west side of entrance measures 14.6m wide and 2.7m high. The brick-built recumbent Buddha statue (11.6m long, l.6m high) is found in the rock cave. The statue has been plundered by treasure hunters. The roof of the cave is covered with paintings. These paintings suggested by the archeological report is as follows:

The cave roof which must once have been fully covered with paintings has some of the paintings on it still. Above the Buddha head are seen a floral design and a figure drawn inside a circle on a red background. North of this is a square with floral designs and geese in it alternating square and oval shapes. These have a striking resemblance to the paintings at the cobra hood cave at Sigiriya. Among the animals shown are elephants spotting among lotus and olu flowers, swans, serpent, horses, hares, parrots and buffaloes. Among the paintings are female figures similar to the figures at Sigiriya and people worshipping a dagoba of a very early shape. These paintings may belong to a very early date.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs 1972: 280

At the top of the Miella (Myella) rock lies possibility of a ancient stupa (D). It measures 9 meters in diameter and 2 meters in height. Part of the stupa platform visible and possibly rectangular measuring 7 meters from east to west.

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.”

Mailla  Ruins site plan in Kotiyagala
Mailla Ruins site plan in Kotiyagala
source : Ruins of the Ancient Ruhuna Civilization – In the Jungles of Kumbukkan Oya Basin SRI LANKA.
photos courtesy of Dr Ashan Geeganage


  • Okamura, T., 1999. Ruins of the Ancient Ruhuna Civilization – In the Jungles of Kumbukkan Oya Basin SRI LANKA. Tokyo: Exploration Club of Hosei University.

Also See

Map of Miella (Myella) Kanda Buddhist Ruins in Kotiyagala

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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 Miella (Myella) Kanda Buddhist Ruins in Kotiyagala

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 Monaragala to Miella (Myella) Kanda Buddhist Ruins

Through : Ratnapura – Beragala – Wellawaya – Buttala – Monaragala
Distance : 36
Travel time : 1.15 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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