Kuragala Buddhist Monastery

kuru2A two thousand yearlong recorded history and a few millennia old legendary caves of Kuragala are fast fading into history due to the sheer negligence of law enforcing and archeological authorities of Sri Lanka.

The Kuragala cave monastery situated nearly twenty km off Balangoda on the Kalthota road had been built on the second century BC covering a series of rock outcrops with nearly 40 large caves. Known as the Thandulayia Pabbatha’ in ancient times, the monastery was first built by two princely brothers and it had evolved into a Buddhist temple and monastery system in the 16th Century AC.

Each cave capable of housing nearly 50 meditating monks had been drip ledged, plastered and divided into smaller chambers and had contained one of the oldest cave inscriptions in the country, detailing the donations and details of maintenance.

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However the most spectacular cave in the monastery could only be reached by descending over the side of the cliff from the Kuragala rock. The cave had been first recorded Government Agent

of Rathnapura, R.B. Hellings in 1910. He records that “the gallery is too low to explore and the left is a narrow chimney rather like a shaft inside the great pyramid, down which you crawl until you emerge upon the Porch of meditation. This is a lofty loophole or ledge window in the side of the precipices, overhung by an immense boulder and opening on the sky and the plane below. It is a dizzy spot.”

The window sill or platform is barely six foot by four foot. And the drop is a sheer 500 feet. Lamp niches have been cut in the walls in very perilous positions, and there are inscriptions and palm prints on the stone.

This meditation pavilion is similar to many others found on various ancient mountain monasteries scattered over the country, looking direst towards setting or rising sun.

Meanwhile the legends around the monastery holds Kuragala to be a site graced by Lord Buddha the Gautama himself and four other Buddhas before him. Moreover some holds it to be the legendary Indragiri Kingdom, one of the seven kingdoms of King Ravana, a fabled prehistoric King of Lanka.

However these wonders of the monasteries are being destroyed by the Muslim extremists, who had chased away the monks, who were meditating at the monastery and have taken over the premises. They Contrary to the Brahmin inscriptions, which detail the monastery as a Buddhist establishment they are claiming it to be the site where a Muslim clergy resided nearly thousand years back.

1036526376kuruThe Muslims have destroyed the stupa atop the mountain and almost all the Buddha statues

inside he caves having distorted and destroyed the Brahmin rock inscriptions as old as the Sri

Lankan history itself on the rock surface and within the caves with the use of cement and acid.

The destruction done within an archaeological reserve despite a court order continues unchecked by authorities despite heavy protest by archaeologists and Buddhists country wide.

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