Believed to be the hideout of Prince Saddatissa during his time of rancor with his brother the great King of Sri Lanka King Dutugamunu, Nuwaragala according to prominent archeologist Ellawala Medhananda Thera was a monastery built by King Lajja Thissa, who ruled the country 119-109 BC.
A stone paved pathway with a width of nearly 20 feet leads to the top of the mountain and to a large drip ledged cave, which can comfortably house nearly 150 people. The cave has been partitioned with brick walls and had had a plastered and decorated interior but the walls and the inner plaster is in ruins today. According to the archeologists the cave and the pathway would have been built for a celebrated monk of the time as in the case of the cave and pathway found in Arankalle, which had been built for Arhant Maliyadeva.
Further uphill is a pond, an eternal water source to the creatures of the wild today, but would have been initially built to cater hundreds of arhant monks, who whiled away in meditation. The ruins of monastery spread in and around Nuwaragala as witness to the prosperity of monastery during the first century BC. One of the most prominent among is the ruins is a statue house, which would have been built nearly three hundred years after the initial construction of the monastery.
Although the legends hold the site to be an ancient palace the archeological evident proves it was a monastery yet another notion is that the site could have initially held a palace nearly 200 years before the building of the monastery.
According to some archeologists Nuwaragala could have been the Girinuwara, the famed city of Prince Giri Abaya, the partner of Princess Soma, the sister of King Kawanthissa. Sinhala historical chronicles Datuwansa records Prince Dutu Gamunu visiting the site with a Minister named Dava. A confrontation between the uncle and nephew broke up the kingdom and Prince Giri Abaya eventually left to Seru Nuwara abandoning his mountain fortress.
Today this mountain fortress turned monastery is in the homeland of a Vedda community, who lives in and around Pollebedda, few miles away from Nuwaragala, in a well-known vedda village immortalized in Dr. Spittel’s books.
However these ancestral vedda settlement has changed for the better from Dr. Spittel’s reminiscence with time and has now is about forty vedda families strong. Their homestead allotments are well developed with permanent crops, coconut palms, jak, orange and lime trees in their front compounds. During the chena season, they have their chenas planted with chillies, kurakkan, and Indian corn as an attempt agricultural lifestyle against hunting.