Mulkirigala rock temple- Tangalle

Architecture, history and travel of Sri Lanka


Reaching Mulkirigala Temple
Mulkirigala Rock Temple or the Raja Maha Viharaya can be reached coming along Beliatta -Weeraketiya main road and turning off at Mulkirigala Junction. The temple is situated 2 kM from the Mulkirigala Junction. One can reach Beliatta Town from either Dikwella or Tangalla.

the beautiful rock temple at Mulkirigala is about 16-18km away from the Tangalle town and approximately 20-30 minutes drive. the temple has rich history and dating back 2000 plus years, this ancient temple has many caves with Majestic yet relaxing Lord Buddha statues and at the top there is a Chetya. you will be climbing about 600 step to go to the top and its worth going there and in 1830 at the British colonial day in Sri Lanka George Turner had found the Great Mahawansa (great Cornical of Sri Lanka) all the historical Kings were written down here, and the excat cupboard that they found the book is still there,
best time to go to the place In the evening where you can see the beautiful sunset at the top off the 290m high rock.


Mulkirigala Rock Temple History
The Rock of Mulkirigala rises about 676 feet from the surrounding land mass. There are seven cave temples situated in five Terraced areas of different altitudes. They are the Lower Terrace (Patha Maluwa), Bo Tree Terrace ( Bodhi Maluwa). Great King's Temple Terrace ( Raja Maha Vihara Maluwa), Upper Bo Tree Terrace (Uda Bodhi Maluwa) and Chetiya Terrace (Chaitya Maluwa). These terraces can be accessed comfortably through well paved granite paths and steps going right upto the Dagoba Terrace.

Situated in Giruwa Pattu of Hambanthota District of Southern Sri Lanka, Mulkirigala is also called as Mulgirigala but the former is more prominently used at present. There are many earlier names used for this rock temple such as 'Samudda Pabbatha", 'Muhunadra Giri', 'Muhudu Giri', 'Giriba Vehera', 'Giriba Lena', 'Dhakkina Giri', 'Dakkina Pabbatha', 'Muwatirigala', 'Mukirigalla' and 'Mulangiriya'.

The Bo tree at the Upper Terrace is considered be a shoot from one of the 32 saplings of Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maga Bodhi planted at the said terrace during the rein of King Devanam Piyatissa. Mulkirigala temple is also considered to be one of the 64 temples constructed by King Kawantissa and was called as 'Muhudu Gira' then which dates back to the 3rd Century BC . The Chetiya at Uppermost Terrace is considered to house Lord Buddha relics offered by the King Saddhatissa. According to Historical manuscripts, King Mahanaga, King Kawantissa, King Dutugemunu, King Parakramabahu the Great, King Saddhatissa, King Valagamba, King Jetta Tissa I, King Parakramabahu I are credited with construction work of the temple during their rein.

The temples remaining at present belongs to the Kandyan era and the Buddha images and many cave paintings depicts magnificent examples of Kandyan era arts and crafts. Mulkirigala Rock Temple is one of the few 'Raja Maha Vihara' or the 'Temples of the Great Kings' ( of the Kandyan Kingdom) found out of the then Kandyan Kingdom. King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 AD) gave his patronage to reconstruct this temple after it being neglected for centuries since the rein of the Parakramabahu the Great.

The Cave temples numbering seven consists of Reclined Buddha , Seated Buddha and Standing Buddha Images, paintings of Buddhas, Arhaths, Gods and Jataka Stories.


Along the path to ground level
The main entrance to the temple premises is at the surrounding ground level. Passing a Pilgrim's rest and the Sanghavasa where the monks reside, the path leads towards the Lower Terrace and the Ticket office. Here one can see the cave of Lord Chulla Tissa, bearing early Brahmi scripts belonging to 2nd Century BC. Turning to left near the cave takes one to the Lower Terrace area.

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