Olumadu Buddhist Ruins at Ampakamam (අම්පකාමන් ඕලුමඩු බෞද්ධ නටබුන්)

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A large number of Buddhist ruins in the Northern part of Sri Lanka have been destroyed by the 30 years of the Civil War and most of them have been wiped out from the history even without being known of their existence.

History states that the Sangamitta Theri who brought the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi landed in Jambukolapatana along with 18 followers and came to the Capital of Anuradhapura through Hunugama, Kadurugoda and Ambagamuwa. All these names have been tamilised with time and Hunugama has become Chunnakam, Kadurugoda has become Kandarodai and Ambagamuwa is the Ampakamam as known today. Therefore it is possible that these ruins once formed an Aramic Complex where Sangamitta Theri rested on her way to Anuradhapura.

The ruins at Olumadu, Ampakamam lies in the region called Nagalalu (නාගනාලු) and the remains of a building,  two stupas, a number of stone carved Buddha statues, stone slabs with Buddha’s footprints (Sri Pathula Gal) and an ancient Bo tree can be found here. At the moment the defence forces in the area have marked this area and are maintaining these ruins as the Buddhist place of worship.

According to Ven. Ellawala  Thero these ruins belong to the pre-Christian era. Based on the remaining ruins Ven. Thero believes this temple complex thrived from Pre Christian Era up to the 9-10th centuries. These ruins are spread over 10 acres and begin at a water stream which has been dammed in the past. Blocks of ancient rocks which formed this dam can be still observed and is believed that the water diverted from this stream has been used for farming.

According to the Thero, currently, ruins of a building which is believed to be an image house and two stupas can be seen, The stupas have been plundered for treasures and one stupa with about a 130 feet in diameter has been dug and used as a bunker by the LTTE, the Tamil Tiger terrorists. Sadly most of the stone pillars that once stood proud as monuments of ancient Sri Lankan ingenuity have been broken and have been used as materiel for bunkers while some have been used as hearthstones. When liberated by Sri Lankan armed forces only 2 stone pillars with a height of 7 feet were standing. Another 7 pillars with only 3 feet remaining can be seen. Further one 7-foot pillar and six 5-foot pillars can be seen fallen to the ground.

Buddhist Ruins at Olumadu, Ampakamam
The stupa converted into a Bunker by the LTTE
source : divaina.com

Until the armed forces liberated Ampakamam in 1998, this site has been a female LTTE camp. A 6 feet stone-carved Buddha statue on the site has been broken off from the stone pedestal by the LTTE and the head and the arms blasted away. Then the statue was dragged to a lake nearby and it was used to wash clothes of the female LTTE carders. When the armed forces discovered the statue in this form, they carried this headless statue back to the original site and stood it on the stone pedestal.

Once the area was secured after liberation, the Navy divers searched the bottom of this lake in search of the head of the statue but failed to locate it. But later during a prolonged drought season when the lake was dried up, the armed forces managed to locate part of the head which had been blown off by the LTTE and restored this segment on the statue. According to the Thero, three bullet marks are visible in the statue. Part of the pedestal on which this statue originally stood also can be seen today.

Travelling 9 km from  Mankulam towards Mulativu will bring you to Karapaddamurippu town. Turn left and take the Ampakamam road travel a further 3 km on this route and take a right turn to a by-road which would take you through a teak plantation. Travelling 3 more kilometres on this route, you can reach the Olumadu Ruins.

The approximate location is marked below based on the directions. To visit this site you would probably require a guide who is aware of the location.

Also See

Map of the Buddhist Ruins at Olumadu, Ampakamam

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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 Buddhist Ruins at Olumadu, Ampakamam

Route from Anuradhapura to Buddhist Ruins at Olumadu, Ampakamam
Though : Vuvunia – Mankulam  – Karapaddamurippu
distance : 115 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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