Historicity of Wilandagoda Salavana Rajamaha Vihara | Sunday Observer

Historicity of Wilandagoda Salavana Rajamaha Vihara

10 September, 2023

Historically and archaeologically significant Wilandagoda Salavana Rajamaha Vihara Arannya Senasanaya is in Wilandagoda in the Karuwalagaswewa Divisional Secretariat division of the Puttalam district.

This picturesque forest monastery is close to the Southern boundary of the Wilpattu National Park and covers 120 hectares. There are 31 rock shelters and 64 caves, most of which are still untrodden abodes or shelters in a forested terrain.

How the name Wilandagoda came into being is related to one of the most popular love stories in Sri Lanka’s history. That is the story of Saliya, the only son of king Dutugemunu, who reigned from 161 BC to 137 BC and his lover Ashokamala, who hailed from a low caste.

One of the giants who was in the service of king Dutugemunu knew the place where the couple lived on the sly and revealed it to the king on the condition that he would not harm them out of his wrath. The king agreed and paid a visit to the rocky terrain where his child and his bride lived. The couple offered the king a humble meal of burnt rice (wilanda) and bee’s honey. It was from that day onwards that this village acquired the name ‘Wilandagoda’.

Archaeological evidence proves that the monastery established during the Anuradhapura period received the royal patronage from the Polonnaruwa and Kandy periods too.

One of the main attractions here is the mushroom-like cave temple in the Kandyan style. There is another cynosure which astonishes whoever catches a glimpse of it. It is a marvellous drip ledge log known as Balumgala.

This rock or Pohottu Gala, which resembles a flower bud with its bottom not wider than a couple of feet, is 60 feet in height and must have been used as an observation perch in the past.

Among the other ancient remains are crumbling stupas, stone pillars, drip ledge caves used in the past as meditation chambers, ruins of ancient buildings, a huge rock statue of the Buddha which is half buried and rock inscriptions. But it is a matter of regret that treasure hunters have vandalised this archaeological site where the richness of ancient Sri Lanka’s architecture is well manifest in ruins.