Samangala Ancient Forest Hermitage in Ampara (සමන්ගල පුරාණ ලෙන් විහාරය)

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Guru Lena at Samangala
Guru Lena at Samangala
Photo by Dr. Ashan Geeganage

Samangala Cave Temple Complex believed to be built by the king Saddhatissa (137-119 BC) of Anuradhapura  lies about 23 kilometers away from the Ampara Town. This cave complex consists of about 50 dripledged caves in the eastern slopes of the Samangala rocky hill. These caves have been used by the ancient Buddhist monks for meditation but today only about 10 can be seen while others are still hidden in thick jungle.

Samangala lies in the eastern province of Sri Lanka close to Ampara  in the on western side of the Kohombana Juntion on the Ampara – Maha Oya road. This archeological jewel has been neglected during the last 30 years during the bloody separatist war  with the Tamil Terrorists with all  Sinhalese  Buddhists in the region either killed or chased away.

With the end of the war,  Samangala Hermitage is now occupied by few priest who is trying to re establish the hermitage.

Few of the caves now can be visited including the largest cave in the complex.  Pre Christian Brahmin scripts too can be still seen on some of the caves.

A large cave 60 in height is used today as the Image House. The vadda drawings resemble the same of Malayadikanda. The long inscription reads.

Upa rajaha puta Aya Abaya puta
Aya tishaha puta tisha ayana
Karite maha lene agata anagata
Catudisha shagasha dine:.

(The cave constructed by Prince Tissa, son of prince Tissa who is the son of Abhaya, who is the son of Uparaja is donated to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and not present).
The U

A drawing in one cave illustrates an  stupa in the style of Sanchi Stupa in India indicating the relationship the temple of that time had with the Indian Buddhist community.

Drawing of the vaddha community which can be seen on another cave suggest that these caves had been used by the Veddhas  in a later period when the hermitage was abandoned.

Photos courtesy of : Dr Ashan Geeganage


  1. E. Medhananda, 2005. The Sinhala Buddhist heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. 1st ed. Colombo: Dayawansa Jayakody & Co
  2. Parker, H., 1909. Ancient Ceylon. 1st ed. London: Luzac, p.445.
  3. ‘The State, Kingship and Buddhism in Ancient Sri Lanka’ (no date) in.

Also See

Map of Ancient Samangala Forest Hermitage in Ampara

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

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 Ancient Samangala Forest Hermitage in Ampara

Traveling from Ampara, you need to turn left at Werenketagoda and travel around 3 1/2 km on this road. Map indicates a approximate location.

Route from Colombo to Samangla Cave Temple

Route from Ampara to Samangla Cave Temple

Through : Kandy – Mahiyanganaya – Padiyatalawa – Maha Oya
Distance : 290 km
Travel time : 6-7 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Distance : 23 km
Travel time : 2 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map


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