Pettagam Kanda Rock Monastery

Once A King who was dethroned by the invading armies sought its’ sanctuary. Its’ caves and tunnels were hideouts to to the escaping king Walagamba and his entourage in the first century BC ; today it shelters meditating monks who whispers sutra to the morning breeze.

Pettagam Kanda is a stony mountain with a unique shape and a history. Shaped as a pettagam or a huge box it gives the onlooker an impression of fragile positioning despite having stood its ground since eternity. The single Buddha statue which rests in a cave under the huge box shape stone reflects the tranquil atmosphere while the top of the mountain unfolds great vistas of Varana, Pilikuttuwa and Maligatanna, three historical cave temples of Sri Lanka.

A pettagama or a storage box

A left side turn from the Dikkanda junction on the Yakkala- Kirindhiwella Road and a steep climb leads to ‘Isiwara Thapowanaya’  a monastic meditation centre which has spread over the ‘Pettagam Gala’ mountain and its surrounding forest . The rock is visible almost just after the turn and presides majestically over the road leading to monastery and mountain.

A newly built white washed stupa on the rock heralds the temple and demands silence and composed behaviour befitted to a monastery. Yet the sounds of monkeys breaks the silence often while the surrounding forest also reside fox, wild bore and fishing cat.

The rock caves are distributed under and around the ‘Box’ shaped rock with a yet to be explored tunnel complex. A steep path down the rock  leads to caves with tunnel, which starts as an uninteresting small, crawl-able opening to the rock yet 10 meters inside the tunnel it enlarges into a seven feet high tunnel which leads to other tunnels creating a labyrinth.

The caves and the tunnels were believed to have been used bu King Walagamba but are homes to pack of foxes and  horde of bats, who shrieks out at the first sound of humans. The other end of the main tunnel opens to the opposite side of the ‘Pettagam  Gala’ which gives a fine view of ‘Dikkanda walauwa’, an old mansion once owned by a Sri Lankan aristocrat.

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