Lahugala Neelagiri Maha Seya – ලාහුගල නීලගිරි මහා සෑය

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Neelagiri Maha Seya
released under creative common licence by Saliya Wijesinghe
Neelagiri Maha Seya
first rock inscription found during excavations
image source :

Neelagiri Seya  (Nilagiri Seya) is the largest Buddhist stupa in the Eastern Province. The stupa, located in the Lahugala Forest Reserve has been neglected for over 30 years due to the LTTE Terrorist activities in the area. The stupa is believed to be build by King Kawantissa (3rd Centaury BC) or King Bhatikabaya (20 BC-9 AC) and has been renovated on the 7th centaury.

This massive stupa has a circumference of 600 feet (182 meters) and 72 feet (22 meters) high in the current status. This has been called “Uttara Seevali Pabbata Viharaya’ in the ancient times. Attempts have been made to restore the stupa during 1979 – 1984 period but due the tamil terrorist activity in the area it has been abandoned.

After the terrorists were crushed, the restoration of this stupa was initiated again in 2011. During this work, two previously unknown inscriptions have been found. One belongs to the 1st century which describe a donation by the Maharaajinee Chula Sivalee Queen (මහාරාජිනී චූල සිවලී දේවි), daughter of the King Bhatikabaya (20 BC-9 AC).

Bhatikabaya also was the regional king in the Ruhuna when Kutakanna Tissa (42-20 BC) was ruling the country. It is believed that Chula Sivalee Queen is the same queen who ruled the country for few months in 34 AC.

The second inscription states about the donations made by king Jettatissa I (266-276). During the excavations the teams have found remains of an ancient aramic complex surrounding this stupa spreading across 36 hectares ( 89 acres). They have also exposed recovered an golden casket in stupa among may items found from the excavations. The survey report (PDF) on the Neelagiri Seya is published in 2011 can be downloaded here.

In addition to the stupa you will find a large amount of artifacts of the ancient temple complex which stood here thousands of years ago.  An old stone quarry, a chapter house, many conical holes, 3 Inscriptions, two drip ledged caves and remnants of a small stupa on a rock is found on the north eastern sector of the monastery.

Also See

Map of Lahugala Neelagiri Maha Seya

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් - Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map -

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.

Travel Directions to Lahugala Neelagiri Maha Seya

There is a newly concreted road to the right at the 305 km post on the Monaragala – Pottuvil main road. This road goes across  road Elakatuwa paddy fields and over the newly build bridge over Hada Oya and ends and the stupa.

Route from Colombo to Neelagiri Seya

Through : Ratnapura – Balangoda – Beragala – Wellawaya – Buttala – Monaragala – Siyambalanduwa
Distance : 311 km
Travel time : 7 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map