Aukana Buddha statue


Aukana Buddha statue is the highest ancient Buddha sculpture of Sri Lanka 12 meters height Standing posture statue built-in 5th Cent. AD. As considered a masterpiece of Sri Lankan, early iconography is carved out of a natural rock stone. On the way to Aukana, you will pass the drive along with the bunt of Kala wewa. Aukana Buddha statue is found about 180 kilometres to the north of Colombo, or 30 km northwest of Dambulla, near the Kala wewa Tank. It can be reached from Dambulla, Anuradhapura, through Kekirawa road.
According to the Mahawansha, The Awkana statue is to have been built in the 5th century through the reign of King Dhatusena (455AD-473AD) and under his rules.

More details

Historical Background of the Aukana Buddha Statue

Legends and Origins

The origins of the Aukana Buddha statue are shrouded in legends and historical accounts. According to popular belief, this magnificent statue was sculpted during the reign of King Dhatusena in the 5th century, although some sources suggest a later date in the 12th or 13th century. The precise identity of the statue's artist remains unknown. Still, a widely accepted story attributes its creation to a competition between a Master Sculptor (guru) and his pupil (goal). With royal patronage, this competition ended with the master sculptor completing his work and being rewarded, while the pupil abandoned his unfinished project.

Architectural Features of the Aukana Buddha Statue

Location and Setting

The Aukana Buddha statue emerges dramatically from a rock cliff face, creating an impression of a monolithic structure. Interestingly, the figure is not entirely detached from the rock; it is connected to the cliff by a narrow strip of rock that also provides support. In addition, the statue stands on a carved Lotus flower pedestal, enhancing its aesthetic appeal and symbolic significance.

Carving Technique

Considered one of the finest examples of ancient standing Buddha statues in Sri Lanka, the Aukana statue showcases a remarkable carving technique. The sculpture exhibits influences from the Gandhara School of Art, renowned for its realistic portrayals, and the Amaravati School of Art in India. The tightly worn robe accentuates the body's contours, with delicately carved pleats representing its folds. Following the Sri Lankan tradition, the robe drapes over the left shoulder, leaving the right shoulder bare. The Buddha's posture is upright, with the left hand grasping the robe at the left shoulder and the right hand raised to the right shoulder in the Asisa mudra, a variation of the Abhaya mudra.

Symbolism and Gesture Depicted

Significance of Aukana Mudra

The Aukana Buddha statue features a distinct mudra, known as the Aukana Mudra or the gesture of giving a blessing. This mudra symbolizes compassion, generosity, and the transmission of positive energy. It is a gesture of blessing those who approach the statue with reverence and devotion.

Abhaya Mudra in Ras Vehera Buddha Statue

In contrast to the Aukana Buddha statue, the Ras Vehera Buddha statue, located a few miles away from Galnewa, portrays a different mudra. The Ras Vehera statue stands at a height of 36 feet and depicts the Abhaya Mudra, symbolizing freedom from fear or fearlessness. In addition, the sculpting style and posture of the Ras Vehera statue differ from the Aukana Buddha statue, suggesting distinct artistic expressions.

Comparing Aukana and Ras Vehera Buddha Statues

Variations in Height and Pedestal Design

The Aukana Buddha statue, towering at 46 feet, surpasses the Ras Vehera statue in height. While the Aukana statue stands on an exquisite lotus symbol pedestal, the Ras Vehera statue rests on a plain rectangular stone. These variations in size and pedestal design contribute to the uniqueness of each figure.

Differences in Mudras and Sculpting Style

Besides the height and pedestal design differences, the Aukana and Ras Vehera Buddha statues also display variations in mudras and sculpting styles. For example, the Aukana statue's Aukana Mudra signifies giving a blessing, while the Ras Vehera statue depicts the Abhaya Mudra, representing fearlessness. The Ras Vehera statue, with its unfinished sculpting and distinct hair portrayal, adds an intriguing element to the comparison.

Historical Attribution and Controversies

Possible Builders and Construction Periods

The attribution of the Aukana Buddha statue's construction to a specific king and period is debated among historians and archaeologists. Some attribute its creation to King Dhatusena in the 6th century, while others propose the reign of King Parakrama Bahu the Great in the 13th century. Similarly, the construction of the Ras Vehera statue is believed to date back to the 12th or 13th century. The uncertainty surrounding the builders and periods of these statues adds an air of mystery to their history.

Removal of Canopy and Preservation Challenges

Over the centuries, there have been discussions and controversies regarding removing a canopy that was once placed over the Aukana Buddha statue. While some argue that the reduction would cause damage to the figure, others point out that it was initially kept open without any overhead protection. The exposure to natural elements such as sun, rain, and wind has undoubtedly posed preservation challenges for this ancient masterpiece.

Unique Features and Local Traditions

Perpendicular Drop from the Nose

One of the fascinating aspects of the Aukana Buddha statue is the precision of its sculpting. According to local traditions, rainwater from the statue's nose would fall perpendicularly into a slight depression carved between its big toes, provided no wind blows. This remarkable feature showcases the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the statue's creators.

Aukana: A Must-Visit in Anuradhapura

No visit to Anuradhapura is complete without experiencing the magnificence of the Aukana Buddha statue. Alongside this awe-inspiring statue, the surrounding area offers additional attractions. The Kala Wewa tank, with its breathtaking views, provides a serene setting for relaxation and picnics. Exploring the region reveals other ancient stone sculptures, such as Buddha statues, sluices, guard stones, and pillars, dating back over 2,000 years.


1. Who sculpted the Aukana Buddha statue? The artist responsible for sculpting the Aukana Buddha statue remains unknown. However, legend suggests it resulted from a competition between a master sculptor and his pupil, both with royal blessings.

2. What is the significance of the Aukana Mudra? The Aukana Mudra depicted in the Aukana Buddha statue symbolizes giving a blessing. It represents compassion, generosity, and the transmission of positive energy.

3. How tall is the Aukana Buddha statue? The Aukana Buddha statue stands at an impressive height of 46 feet, making it one of the tallest ancient Buddha statues in Sri Lanka.

4. When was the Aukana Buddha statue constructed? Historical attributions suggest that the Aukana Buddha statue was sculpted during the reign of King Dhatusena in the 5th century. However, some sources date it to the 12th or 13th century.

5. What is the unique feature of the Aukana Buddha statue? According to local traditions, rainwater dropping from the tip of the Aukana Buddha statue's nose would fall perpendicularly into a slight depression carved between its big toes, provided no wind blows.



Submit a Review

Send reply to a review

Hotel Booking



Send listing report

You already reported this listing

This is private and won't be shared with the owner.


Girl in a jacket



Sign in

Send Message

My favorites

Application Form

Claim Business