Many are the pilgrims and tourists that make their way to Aukana to worship at the feet of s colossal image of the Buudha or simply to gaze in awe at the giant image carved out of the living rock.
In close proximity to this famous site is the lesser colossus of Sasseruwa. A delightful tale is told of the conception of this image and its close relationship with its famous — almost twin — image at Aukana.
These twin like statues ( Gog and Magog as the archaeologist Bell was to refer to them) were, it is said, the work of a guru and his golaya – a master and his pupil. Legend speaks of a gigantic competition in the creation of the near twin colossi of Aukana and Sasseruwa between the two sculptors.
The completion of either masterpiece was to be signaled by the ringing of a bell. Master and pupil worked furiously and years later a bell clanged decisively.
Today, the Aukana colossus, the work of the guru, stands completed and is also the finer of the two. The unfinished Sasseruwa image broods as the it were over a lonely derelict hermitage in the the Vanni jungle.
Carved in high relief, this image is said by many to be far inferior in workmanship to that of Aukana. There is, however, a certain impressiveness in the near 39 foot figure set in the sheer dark rock which towers above it for hundreds of feet.
Sasseruwa wa, in ancient times, an extensive monastery — but today only a few monks inhabit its caves. Many of the caves (there are over a hundred of them) have ‘brow’ inscriptions dating as far back as the second century before the birth of Christ.