Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya at Wellawaya (වැල්ලවාය සෙල්ලබ රජමහා විහාරය)

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Conserved Stupa of - Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya
Conserved Stupa of – Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya

Wellawaya Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya ( Sellabawa Rajamaha Viharaya) is an ancient cave temple with ruins to prove its place in the ancient Buddhist heritage in Uva. The ruins of this ancient temple is spread around a large forested hill off Sellabawa.

The primary ruins which can be seen in this archaeological reserve are a considerably large stupa built on a high square platform, stone pillars of large buildings and moonstones and balustrades (korawakgal) in various stages of decay.

This site has been excavated and partly restored and is now converted to a temple. The fully restored stupa dome lies right at the entrance of the temple. The stupa is built on a 2.6-meter-high square platform made of bricks and rubble. The platform is 18.3 meters long on a side and two stairways have been built from the south and the western sides. A plain moonstone and two guard stones lie at the bottom of the steps. None of them has any carvings. Balustrades are made of bricks.

The stupa dome at the top has a circumference of 36.7 meters and is about 1.5 meters high. The Yupa Stone of the stupa is still fixed at the top and the umbrella lid disk of the Yupa Stone (rock cut disk), about 1 meter in diameter and 20cm in thickness lies broken in the northern side.

Sellaba Map
Sellaba Map
Sellaba Map
Sellaba Map

Building identified as B has been built on 16 stone pillars laid on a 4 x 4 grid. For some reason, these rows are not equally spaced. A simple guard stone and a balustrade stone can be seen at the entrance buried under the earth.

Map and the ruins of Building C at Sellaba
Map and the ruins of Building C at Sellaba

The building identified as C is another unidentified building. This is 9 meters wide and 6 meters long. It has been built using 12 stone pillars out of which 9 can still be seen.

Map and the ruins of Building D at Sellaba
Map and the ruins of Building D at Sellaba

The ruins of the large building structure marked as building D have been identified as the image house of the ancient temple. This is 15 meters in breadth and 20 meters in depth. Out of the 24 stone pillars which were used in this building, parts of 11 pillars can be seen today. Moonstones, guard stones and stone balustrades are found at the entrance to the building. A pedestal base with a large hole in the middle and a standing Buddha statue fallen off and in pieces can be seen inside this building confirming that this was an image house in the past.

Map and the ruins of Building E at Sellaba
Map and the ruins of Building E at Sellaba

The building identified as E is another unidentified building. This is 7.5 meters wide and 7 meters long. It has been built using 12 stone pillars out of which 10 can still be seen. A half buried entrance with five stone steps is found on the eastern side of the building. This entrance has been decorated with 2 plain guard stones.

Map and the ruins of Building E (Chapter House) at Sellaba
Map and the ruins of Building F (Chapter House) at Sellaba

The building identified as Chapter House is 21.5 meters wide and 11.9 meters long. A 9.2 meter long path with plain guard stones on the western side leads to the main entrance. there are 3 smaller entrances with no guardstones from the east as well. The stone pillars are laid around the building, altogether 28 pillars. Most of the pillars in this building are still standing upright at a height of about 2.5 meters. Unlike the pillars of other buildings, the pillars of this building have been well finished. Based on these ruins it has been confirmed that this building was built during the Polonnaruwa era (11th to 13th century).

To access these ruins, take the Sellabawa Road from the Sellabawa Junction on the Wellawaya – Thanamalvila road. Travelling about one and a half kilometres on this road you will come across a footpath through the forest beside a water stream, after about 500m you will reach a few ancient steps which will take you to the “maluwa” where all the ruins can be found.

photo and information by the curtsey of Dr. Ashan Geeganage


  • Okamura, T., 2021. Ruins in and Around Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. 1st ed. Tokyo: NPO-SARERS – South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society.

Also See

Map of Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins

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Travel Directions to Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya Ruins

Route from Colombo to Sellaba Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Southern Highway
Distance : 4 km
Travel time :10 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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