Maligawila Buddha statue
Maligawila Buddha statue is an off the beaten track attraction for most travellers, who spend their holiday in Sri Lanka. It is not a popular top notch attraction in southern Sri Lanka. Therefore it is visited by very few foreign travellers but comparatively more local people. It is a must see place for travellers, who are interested in the history of Sri Lanka. And it is also a very noteworthy place to visit for people who study the Buddhism.
This archaeological site is located outskirts of Monaragala about 170 km from Colombo. It will take about well over 3 hours to reach the archaeological site from Colombo. The journey takes about 1 or 2 hours less if you start the journey from beach holiday destinations in the west of Southern coastal belt. The site is open for public in a daily basis and no requirement to pay entrance fees. This monastery complex had been a Buddhist religious centre and was consisted of five units (panchawasa system).
After discovering the site in 1934, it underwent restoration for several years from 1936. But again it had to be restored after the extensive damaged in 1948 due to the vandalism.
The magnificent Maligawila Buddha statue is placed in an image house built entirely with brick stones. The spacious image house is 100 feet long and 17 feet wide. The image is 37 feet and 10 inches from top to bottom and it is made of crystalline lime stones. Buddha statue is placed on a Lotus pedestal, which is 4 feet in height. Therefore the entire construction, Buddha statue and the pedestal are 41 feet and 10 inches at the highest point of the figure.
Maligawila Buddha statue is one of the oldest statues on the island, which is dating back to seventh to eighth century AD. Other than its antiquity Maligawila statue is the largest Buddha statue on the island. Therefore it is considered as a place with high impotence for travellers. Even though it was discovered in very bad condition, after the restoration, the Buddha statue is in very good shape today. Travellers, who visit Malagavila Buddha statue, also have the opportunity to visit another important archaeological site known as Dambegoda.
According to the historical information extracted from the ancient chronicle Mahawamsa (chapter 45), prince Aggabodhi of Ruhunu Kingdom (Kingdom in southern Sri Lanka) has commissioned the construction of the colossal Buddha statue in Patima Vihara at the Maligawila archaeological site. Further to the chronicle, prince Dappula, who ascended the throne after prince Aggabodhi constructed the image house for the Buddha statue. He also decorated the Buddha statue.
Another well-known attraction near maligawila, which known as Dambegoda Bodhisatwa image was constructed under the guidance of Prince Dappula. This Bodhistawa image considered as the largest Bodhissatwa image in Sri Lanka. Bodhisatwa image was also discovered in very dilapidated condition lying on the ground. Today, it is also restored to show the image existed in the past. It is believed that Maligawila archaeological site and Dambegoda Bodhisatwa image both belonged to the same temple complex in the early days.