Vessagiriya Aramic Complex at Anuradhapura – වෙස්සගිරිය

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The rear side of the cave complex with drip ledges.
The rear side of the cave complex with drip ledges.

Vessagiriya is located few hundred meters left to the current Isurumuniya on the old Anuradhapura-a-Kurunegala road. This temple complex is located in and around 3 beautiful bolder formations spread across a large area in front of the Tissa Weva. On one these is a remains of a dagaba.

Remains of 23 caves with drip ledges which the monks used can be seen on two of the rock formations. Remains of many buildings had been found from around the site, among which there were remains of an image house (pilima geya), dagoba and refectory (monk’s dining room). Bricks recovered from the dagoba had Sinhalese characters belonging to the 10th and 11th centuries. Also there is a remains of a rate type of a circular building devoid of any statues or pedestals. Although the purpose of the this building is still a mystery, archaeologists have found seventy rare coins on excavating this building.

This site has been housed to 500 priests who received ordinance from the great thero Mahinda, who brought Buddhism to the country in 250 BC. This is another site in Anuradhapura which is not visited by most of the pilgrims. Therefore this area still seems unspoilt up to now.

Vessagiriya is is made in the form of a pabbatha vihara architecture. Archaeologists believe that Pabbata Vihara were built merging with a natural rock formation. These are built by arranging several rectangular building areas (courtyards) at different levels surrounded by water. In the upper courtyard itself are the four sacred buildings arranged in specific order. In the ancient architecture book ‘Manju Sri Bhashitha Vastuvidyawa” (මඤ්ජු ශ්‍රී භාෂිත වාස්තුවිද්‍යාව) written in Sanskrit, these buildings and standards are well explained. 

The basic feature of these monasteries is a large rectangular precinct or sacred quadrangle which contains the four major shrines, a stupa, a bodhighara, a patimaghara and a prasada which has been identified as the uposathaghara. VijayaramayaPankuliya AsokaramayaPacina Tissa Pabbatha ViharayaPuliyankulama Pabbata Viharaya (Pubbaramaya)Toluvila and Vessagiriya are the temples of this tradition in Anuradhapura. Kaludiya Pokuna (Dhakkinagiri Viharaya) in DambullaLahugala Magul Maha Viharaya, Menikdena, Pulukunava in the Gal Oya valley, a group of shrines at the foot of the rock at Sigiriya and Moragoda in Padaviya are the other provincial sites where Pabbata Vihara have been identified. (Bandaranayake, 1974).

References

  1. Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture – The Viharas of Anuradhapura. Leiden: Brill.

Also See

Map of Vessagiriya and Other Places of Interest

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් – Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map –
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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.

Traveling Directions to Anuradhapura (Vessagiriya )

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and though Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttalam you will pass scenic Wilpattu area. the From Kurunegala there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is though Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the commonly used is the Kurunegala – Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chillaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo :213 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 217 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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