Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya

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Situated in Kirinda in Hambanthota District, Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya has also been called Chiththala Pabbatha in the ancient texts. Stone Inscriptions has identified this location as “Chithala Paawatha Vehera“. This temple complex is attributed to King Kavanthissa who ruled the southern area of the country.

Sithulpawwa is known as a location where thousands of Arhaths lived at one time. According to folklore, it is said that a novice monk called Tissa who has reached the state of Arhath lived here and later a stupa was built encasing his remains thus this also has been known as Tissa Thera Chetiya.

Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya contains a large number of stupas, cave temples, Buddha statues a stupa house, and image houses spread among a large land area. Among these, there is a cave temple with ancient paintings thought to be belonging to the 3rd century BC. These drawings have been done on a thin layer of plaster on the rock surface and primarily used red-yellow colours.

The main stupa has been built by flattening the top of a rocky mountain. There are two approaches to the stupa. Stone steps have been cut from the south and the north. The boundary walls of the Maluwa area have been built using large rocks. The remains of many buildings can be seen on the Northern side of the stupa.

In addition to the main Sithulpawwa stupa another hill called the ‘Small Sithulpawwa ’ also contains similar stupa and buildings. Stupas have been built on each peak of this rocky mountain range and all these have been built in the Pre-Christian Era.

A large amount of valuable items has been found from the excavations on this site including an exclusively made image of goddess Thara in a seating position and many Buddha statues. Two Statues of the Awalokeswara Bodhisattva can be seen in the main cave temple. One of these is dressed as a royal and the other is plainly dressed as a sage.

A large number of rock inscriptions have been found throughout the vihara complex. All these belong to the pre-Christian era and some letters in these inscriptions show localization effects compared to Inscriptions in the Anuradhapura in the same era. Some of these pre-Christian inscriptions mention two of the ‘Dasamaha Yodhayan’ (the ten giant warriors in the Army of King Dutugemunu) called Nandimithra and Welusumana. Another giant of the ‘Dasamaha Yodhayan’ Pussadeva is also said to be from this area.

According to the great chronicle Mahavansa, King Vasaba built 10 stupas in the Sithulpawwa (then Chiththala Pabbatha). According to stone inscriptions, King Mahallaka Naga (134-146) built stupas and donated land to the temple and the regional King Dappula of Rohana donated the village called Gonmitigama in 659 AC. Today this village has been identified as Gonagala.

According to historical records, “Situlpawwa of Ruhunu Rata” was one of the locations where Dethis Pala Bodhis were planted in the 3rd century BCE by King Devanampiyatissa.

List of Archaeological Sites inside Yala and Kumana National Parks

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Map of Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Kataragama to Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Southern Expressway – Lunugamwehera
distance :280 km
Travel time : 4.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Kataragama – Situlpauwa Road
distance :20 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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