Mihintale Maha Seya – මිහින්තලේ මහා සෑය

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Mahaseya as in 1896 from The ruined cities of Ceylon by Henry W. Cave

Mahaseya as in 1896 from The ruined cities of Ceylon by Henry W. Cave

From whichever road you are travelling to Mihintale your first sight is almost always the Mihintale Maha seya, the largest and the most conspicuous stupa built half way up the Mihintale mountain. It will allure you from far like a white bubble dazzling brilliant under the sun. On the Trincomalee road in particular you sight it across the vast Mahakandara wewa – a sight too rich to be contained by your camera. On a moon lit, star strung night it glows milky white. And if it does rain, it appears even lovelier through a rosy mist. As such the Maha seya will never disappoint you, whether by day or night, sun or rain mystifying and beckoning you to the hallowed precincts of Missakapabbata.

The story of the Maha seya built by king Mahadathika Mahanaga (7-19 AC) is given in the great chronicle Mahavamsa as follows.

“The lord of the earth had the great Ambasthala Cetiya constructed. When the masonry work did not hold, he recalled the virtues of the sage (Buddha) and, risking his own life, lay down there; having made the masonry work hold there, he had the Cetiya completed. At the four gates he arranged to be erected four gem-set arches, well executed by artists and dazzling with various precious stones. He fastened on the Cetiya a red woollen covering and fixed thereon golden balls and strings of pearls”.

What is understood by the above description is that the king realized that the limited space on the summit with its steep inclines on all the sides of the mountain will not bear the heavy weight of the stupa and made a firm determination to hold it on.

Sunset at Mihintale

Sunset at Mihintale
licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 by Valerio Manassero

According to popular belief, the urnaroma of the Lord Buddha is enshrined in this stupa. The thirteenth century Sinhalese literary work Pujavaliya and the slab inscription of Mahinda. IV at Mihintale refer to this stupa as Ambulu dagaba.

Today the Mahaseya has a diameter of 136′ at the base, a height estimated at about 45′ and is very much a the symbol of Mihintale. It is also a photographers challenge and prized picture. The picture produced here was taken two years back on a December evening when we were climbing the Mihintale rock (Aradhana gala) around six in the evening.

The skyscape over the Maha seya blazed in unbelievable hues. So glorious was the cloud formations and the orange colours that fired it – for quite a few seconds we could only stop and stare. Then I had the presence of mind to take a photograph. But the glory of heavenly designs can never be satisfactorily captured by a mere man made contraption.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

Also See

Map of the Mihintale Maha Seya

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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.

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.


Driving Directions to Mihintale Maha Seya

Mihinthalawa can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttlam (Puttalama) and though Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttlam you will pass scenic Wilpattu area. the From Kurunegala there are two main routes to Mihintale. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is though Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the commonly used is the Kurunegala – Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to Mihintale (A3)

Route 02 from Colombo to Mihintale

Though : Negambo - Chillaw - Puthlam
Distance :211 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Dambulla
Distance : 213 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps

Route 03 from Colombo to Mihintale

Route from Anuradhapura to Mihintale

Though : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Padeniya - Thambuthegama
Distance :220 km
Travel time : 3.45 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Distance :15 km
Travel time : 40 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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