Kirinda Raja Maha Viharaya
With the atmosphere of its magnificent setting aside the sea, Kirinda is the appropriate setting of one of those popular legends that constitute early Sri Lankan history. Legend recounts that Kirinda was the place where Princess Viharamaha Devi drifted ashore after being sacrificed to the sea to atone for her father’s, King Kelanitissa, sacrilegious act of killing a monk by putting him in a cauldron of boiling oil. After receiving the Princess, King Kavantissa, who was the ruler of Ruhuna at that time, married the young princess and the couple eventually had 2 sons. Dutugemunu, the eldest son of Viharamahadevi became one of the legends in Sri Lankan history.It is the popularity of this romantic legend which makes Kirinda a focal point for pilgrims. They come specifically to the rocky outcrop with its group of boulders piled up in bizarre fashion – to see a modern statue of Viharamahadevi and make offerings at the dagoba.We consider the Kirinda Temple on the South East coast with its magnificent views to be one of the most beautiful ancient viharas of Undiscovered Sri Lanka.
Thissamaharamaya Temple & Lake
Thissamaharama is one of the most pleasant towns in the southern coast. The beautiful man-made tank (reservoir) in Tissa, Tissa Wewa with its remarkable bird life provides the scenic backdrop to the town. Modern Tissa is a bustling city with the main street lined with banks, shops & littlecafes and kiosks. Refreshing breeze from the large reservoir sweeps the town. The town in turn is bounded by a beautiful expanse of paddy fields. In the midst of paddy fields stands most impressive of King Tissa’s dagobas (stupas) including Thissamaharama Chethiya. The combination of cluster of dagobas & two beautiful tanks lend Tissa a certain distinction & a sense of history making it in sharp contrast with the other towns of southern coast.
Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya
Sithulpawwa rock temple is historically significant and identified as one of the greatest 2nd century sites of Buddhist scholarship. With a history of over 2200 years, this is an ancient place of worship in the Hambantota district. The modern name Sithulpawwa is derived from the ancient ‘Cittalpabbata’, ‘The hill of the quiet mind’. It is said that in the 1st century AD as many as 12,000 Arahants lived here (monks that have achieved the highest mind level in Buddhism). Unlike the great monasteries in Anuradhapura and other towns, life at Sithulpawwa was hard and a monk or nun lived there only if they were interested in silence and solitude. Located opposite the Maha Sithulpawwa rock which is 400 feet (122M) in height is a cave temple. This cave temple, which is 67 feet high and 30 feet long, is part of the intricate cave-complex at Sithulpawwa.
Katharagama Kiri Vehera & Devalaya
Kataragama is one of the 16 Principal Places of Buddhist pilgrimage to be visited in Sri Lanka. According to the chronicle of Sri Lankan history, The Mahawansha, when the Bo sapling of Bodhi Tree, under which Gotama Buddha attained enlightenment in North India was brought to the city of Anuradhapura 2,300 years ago, the warriors or Kshatriyas from Kataragama were present on the occasion to pay homage and respect.The Bo tree behind the Kataragama temple is one of the eight saplings (Ashta Phala Ruha Bodhi) of Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradapura, Sri Lanka. This tree was planted in the 3rd century BC.The Kiri Vehera Dagoba was built by the King Mahasena. According to the legend, Lord Buddha, on his third and the last visit to Sri Lanka, was believed to have met King Mahasena, who ruled over the Kataragama area in 580 BC. It is said that King Mahasena met Lord Buddha and listened to his discourse. As a token of gratitude, the Dagoba was built on that exact spot where it now stands. Thus the local Sinhalese Buddhists believe that Kataragama was sanctified by Lord Buddha.katharagama Ashta bo Temple Many Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka believe that Kataragama deviyo is a guardian deity of Buddhism and he is the presiding deity of Kataragama temple. The deity at Kataragama is indigenous and long-celebrated in Sri Lankan lore and legend, and originally resides on the top of mountain called Wedahiti Kanda (or hill of the indigenous Vedda people) just outside of the Kataragama town. Since ancient times an inseparable connection between the Kataragama God and his domain has existed.At one time the local deity was identified with God Sumana Saman, a guardian deity of Buddhism and Sri Lanka. As was the Sinhalese tradition, local ancestors, rulers and kings, who did a great service to the country or community were ordained as deities.According to the legendary hisrtory, God Sumana Saman was an ancient ruler of the Deva people in the Sabaragamuwa area of Sri Lanka. Therefore, some believe that King Mahasena, who built Kiri Vehera in Kataragama later came to be worshiped as God Kataragama. Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka and South India refer to the place as Katirkamam. Lord Katirkaman is associated with Skanda-Murukan. Saivite Hindus of South India call him Subrahmanya as well. He is known as Kandasamy, Katiradeva, Katiravel, Kartikeya, and Tarakajith. Some of these names are derived from the root katir from Katirkamam. “Katir” means formless light. The Deity is depicted with six faces and twelve hands or one face and four hands. Out of love for Lord Murugan and to mitigate bad karma, bhaktars pierce their cheeks and tongues with vels, pull large chariots carrying murthi of Murugan with large hooks pierced through the skin of their backs. This practice is known as kavadi. Murugan’s vahana or vehicle is Mayil, the peacock.