Buddangala Monastery –A Forest Hermitage of Ancient Tradition

Hidden among a thick jungle full of wild elephants and leopards is the Buddangala monastery, a Buddhist meditation Centre, which is nearly 2300 years old.

Established in the second century BC by a provincial Princess named, Chitra; the ruins of a once thriving temple and monastery is found scattered over an area of 200 acres within the jungle. The standing ruins spreading across five rocky mountains scattered with ponds tells the story of a vast hermitage in the days gone by when Ampara was a flourishing agricultural and trade base in the East of Sri Lanka, then known as Digamadulla.

The Brahim letter inscriptions on the rock face explains the procedures of building the temple under the guidance of Princess Chitra and the supervision of her accountant , a written evidence of affluence and opulence of the age old Digamadulla.

The monastery had been built in and around a rocky mountain scattered with caves and ponds, which are now the home and play grounds of many a wild beasts. The temple which is found on site today is built on a mountain which holds the finely carved stone remains of five buildings and a ruined stupa, which is yet to be excavated.

The half standing stone bridges and stairways suggests that the five rock scattered mountains found amidst the jungle were interconnected creating a 200 acre large monastery comprising  caves constructed with the distinct drip ledge and remodeled with cement, bricks and plaster.

The monastery which maintained a continuous Sanga tradition until the years of 800 AC were later abandoned due to the shifting of Kingdoms and South Indian Invasions. It was forgotten amidst the rising jungle and left for the elephants to roam for more than thousand years; until the monastery was rediscovered and reestablished for the meditating monks in 1964.

The new stupa of the hermitage, which stands on a 500 feet tall hill top, is enshrined with the relics of Lord Buddha and his two main disciples; Arhant Sariputta and Arhant Moggallana. The relics were found on site during the excavation of a stupa and are a unique and ultra-reverend combination for many a Buddhists in the country.

Although the end of the civil war, which engulfed the East coast of the country for the last two decades, had seen an increase of travelers to Ampara, Buddangala monastery still remains hidden among the jungle, a forest hermitage of ancient tradition.

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