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 now converted to an temple. The fully restored stupa dome lies right to 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 at a side and two stairways has 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 have 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.
Building identified as B has been built on 16 stone pillars laid on 4 x grid. For some reason these rows are not equispaced. A simple guard stone and a balustrade stone can be seen at the entrance buried under earth.
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.
Ruins of the large building structure marked as building D has been identified as the image house of the ancient temple. This is 15 meters in breath and 20 meters in depth. Out of the 24 stone pillars which was 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 fallen off standing Buddha statue in pieces can be seen inside this building confirming that this was an image house in the past.
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.
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 in the western side leads to the main entrance. there are 3 more 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 has been well finished. Based on these ruins it has been confirmed that that this building has been built during the Polonnaruwa era (11th to 13th centaury).
To access these ruins take the Sellabawa Road from the Sellabawa Junction on the Wellawaya – Thanamalvila road. Traveling about one and half kilometers on this road you will come across foot path through the forest beside a water stream, after about 500m you will reach 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.
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