Serunuwara Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya – සේරුනුවර පාෂාණ පබ්බත රජමහා විහාරය

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The dilapidated stupa at the top of the rock at Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya
The dilapidated stupa at the top of the rock at Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya

Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha viharaya at Kaladi (Punniyadi/Verugal) is one of the ancient forgotten Buddhist heritage sites in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka.  This temple has been built over 2000 years ago by King Mahadathika Mahanaga (9-21AC) of Anuradhapura Kingdom. Situated on a rocky outcrop with a commanding a view of  the surrounding area, the LTTE Tamil terrorists used this site to station their eastern radio transmission station before their destruction.

Six inscriptions carved in ancient Brahami script makes reference to a flourishing commercial civilization in the forgotten past.

These six inscriptions on the rock are among the most important archeological ruins found in the place. Three of them, located close to each other, are on the western side of the rock on which the Stupa is located. Due to continuous treading on them and exposure to nature, these scripts are now fading. The forth inscription is on a rock below is also worn out. The fifth and the sixth are located behind the rock.

The first inscription among the first three is relatively clear though some letters are worn out. It starts with words ‘Amathe rakayame pahana pavatha vihara’ and it goes on to refer about an offering of gold coins. According to one of the inscriptions, this monastery has been built by king Mahadathika Mahanaga (9-21AC).

Number of inscriptions with this king’s name has been found in several places in the Eastern Province of the country located close to sea. As per the inscription, the king has made the temple the beneficiary of water tenure from a nearby stream. The king has also made temple’s lands exempted from the land tenure which had been imposed on the people in the area. An accompanying small inscription of the first inscription says that the king Mahadatika Mahanaga has bought a land and offered to the Pashana Pabbbatha Viharaya.

The second inscription goes on to say that a minister named Rakhaya has offered the interest he earned out of depositing five hundred gold coins in a bank. This bank is appeared to have been linked with a commercial establishment. In Sri Lanka’s historical records, foremost among the inscriptions which bear the reference about bank systems is the Thonigala inscription found written during the King Kithsirimevan (299-327). However, the  inscriptions at Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha viharaya are dated to a much older period.

The third inscription mentions about a commercial city named ‘Thadavita’. It had a commercial center named Manarama. It goes on to say that the King Mahasen(276-299) has offered what he earned from the interest depositing paddy from his own fields in a bank.

Another inscription says that what was earned from the interest depositing something (It is not exactly clear what was deposited) in a bank in a commercial city named Thubavatiya located east of the city was offered to the Mangala Chaittya (Mangala Stupa). So it is clear that the Stupa now in ruins in Pasana Pabbatha Viharaya in Punniyadi was referred as Mangala Maha Chaittya.

The other inscription contains references that gold coins were offered to the temple for meeting the expenses for alms for resident Buddhist monks. As per these inscriptions it is clear that there had been major commercial cities in Seruvila area with a flouring bank system. It has been proved that all the names mentioned in the inscriptions are Sinhalese.

By judging all the details it can be summed up that the Pashana Pabbatha Viharaya built in early centuries has evolved into a magnificent rock temple with many Buddhist monks in residence. Archeologists are yet to read all the inscriptions which will give us more details about this magnificent temple.

These ruins were re-discovered after the liberation of of the country from LTTE terrorists and unfortunatey part of the stupa at the top of the rocky hill has been destroyed to build radio transmission tower by the LTTE. Deep pits has been dug at the center of the dome body of the stupa in search of treasures within.

The diameter of the ruined Stupa is about 50 feet at its base  and it can be observed that several types of bricks had been used for building the Stupa. Curved shaped bricks strewn around the area suggest that they were part of spire of the Stupa. A base stone of a pillar found among the bricks and a line of holes grilled on the rock suggest that there had been another building below the stupa. A flight steps carved in the rock suggest that the entrance to the top of it was located facing the south. The north side of the temple is a precipice.

This holy site currently which owns about 50 acres is apparently under continuous threat from TNA (Tamil National Alliance) who has made number of attempts the land belonging to the Temple to build a Hindu kovil.  A lone Buddhist monk who occupies and protects the temple has been defending all these attempts up to now with relevant authorities turning a blind eye to the situation.

After liberation, the incumbent priest has taken over and held on to the site under many difficulties from the politically motivated Tamil community. TNA (Tamil National Alliance)  has made number of attempts to grab the land belonging to the Temple to build an Hindu Kovil.

Primary Source :

The priest, Rev Dr Devananda thero is a tough character fighting a lone battle with the tamil political parties in the east. He is a medical doctor who had taken up robes at the later stage of his life. Without a single Buddhist in area, he stated that he doesn’t even stay the night at the temple due the threats to his life. ‘Is that why I see cops at the entrance?’ I asked. “They not here to protect me but to protect  the Kovil.

The kovil owners has put a case against me stating that I have burned their kovil, and the case is still going on” he said. His final words before departing was “මේවා අපි බලාගත්තේ නැතිනම් කවුරු  බලාගනීවිද මහත්තයෝ” .

Also See

Map of Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya

Travel Directions to Pashana Pabbata Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Trincomalee to Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Krunegala – Dambulla – Kantale – Sooriyapura
Distance : 295
Travel time : 7 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Kinnya
Distance : 64 km
Travel time : 1.30 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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