Maligawila Buddha statue off the beaten track holiday attraction in Sri Lanka

Visiting a Buddhist temple is in a bucket list of every Sri Lankan traveller. I believe that a trip to Sri Lanka is never complete if you fail to visit the Buddhist temple on the island. All Buddhist temples are regarded as important cultural places in Sri Lanka. Visiting Buddhist temple is the best way to learn the Sri Lankan culture, tradition and peoples devotion to Buddhism.

Many thousands Buddhist temple are scattered all around the island and most of these temples are located on the south coast, west coast and Sri Lanka’s upcountry.

Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle cities hide many thousands of historical monuments. Most of these historical monuments are many thousands of years old and closely connected to Buddhism. Cultural triangle is in the north-central province of Sri Lanka and venturing on the cultural triangle tour is the best way to explore historical places here.

Sri Lanka tour packages usually include Buddhist temples. Whether it is a one day Sri Lanka trip of a multi-day Sri Lanka tour such as 7 days Sri Lanka trips, it includes a couple of Buddhist temples.

Visiting a Buddhist temple what you need to know

All visitors to these sacred places are supposed to dress in a particular manner to uphold their religious values. There is a set of rules that every visitor to religious sites observes while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are, check out this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRES’ CODE“.

Maligawila Buddha statue

Maligawila Buddha statue is an off the beaten track Sri Lanka attraction for most travellers, who spend their holiday in Sri Lanka. It is not a top-notch tourist 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 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.

If you plan to visit Maligawila temple from west and south coast beaches resorts, the journey takes about 1 to 2 hours less if you start the journey from beach holiday destinations in the west of Southern coast. The site is open for the public, there is 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 limestones.  

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.