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Buddhangala Monastery – Ampara

Description

The Buddhangala Monastery occupies wide inside the jungles concerning 7 kilometres from the city of Ampara. The Monastery directs 1280 acres and five rocks, the place the stays of the historical Monastery can be seen.

These inhabitants belonged in the Digamadulla Kingdom, which began utilizing Prince Dighayu within just the 4th century BC. While the beginning of this Monastery is not claimed, Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thero implies that his Monastery's history is as old as the Digamadulla Kingdom.
Dense jungle infested with wild animals, exposed toward the supplies for more than countless numbers of decades. Finally, however, the Monastery has introduced back again in the direction of ordinary existence in just 1964 through a younger courageous thero referred to as Kalutara Dhammananda.

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The Enigmatic Origins

The Digamadulla Kingdom

The story of Buddhangala Monastery intertwines with the history of the Digamadulla Kingdom, which Prince Dighayu established in the 4th century BC. Though the exact beginnings of the monastery are not documented, Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thero, a renowned Buddhist scholar, suggests that its history is as old as the kingdom itself.

Revival by Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thero

Lost in the annals of time and overgrown by dense jungle, the Buddhangala Monastery lay forgotten for centuries. However, in 1964, a young and courageous bhikku named Kalutara Dhammananda, the present-day incumbent high priest, undertook the arduous task of reviving this ancient sanctuary. With the support of local Buddhists, Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thero traversed through thick jungles, tirelessly clearing the area and breathing new life into the monastery.

Resurrecting the Lost Glory

A Brave Bikku Named Kalutara Dhammananda

Kalutara Dhammananda's unwavering determination and deep spiritual devotion fueled his mission to revive the Buddhangala Monastery. His relentless efforts transformed the neglected site into a vibrant Buddhist worship and tranquillity centre.

Clearing the Path: Battling the Wilderness

The task of clearing the overgrown jungle was no small feat. Kalutara Dhammananda and the local Buddhist community faced numerous challenges, including dangerous wild animals and harsh environmental conditions. Despite the hardships, their commitment and unwavering faith triumphed, bringing back the ancient monastery from the clutches of nature.

The Sacred Relics

The Unearthed Treasures

During the excavation of the original stupa, the Buddhangala Monastery yielded a remarkable treasure trove of relics. Among these sacred artifacts was a 4-inch gold casket adorned with three golden lotus flowers, each holding meticulously placed relics. The central flower stood tallest, while the other two lotus flowers bore the inscriptions "Sariputha" and "Maha Moggalana." The origins of these relics, belonging to two chief disciples of Buddha, remain shrouded in mystery.

The Mysterious Relic Casket

The relic casket discovered at Buddhangala exhibits distinct characteristics of 5th-century craftsmanship. However, the inscriptions on the golden bo leaves alongside the relics are believed to date even further to the Pre-Christian Era. This remarkable artifact is a testament to ancient Sri Lankan artisans' artistic skill and spiritual reverence.

Rebuilding the Stupa

President W. Gopallawa's Unveiling

In 1974, President W. Gopallawa played a significant role in the restoration efforts of the Buddhangala Monastery. He inaugurated the construction of a new stupa, symbolizing the rejuvenation of this sacred site. The stupa is a testament to the rich cultural heritage and architectural brilliance of ancient Sri Lanka.

Neglected Heritage: Government's Lack of Preservation

Despite its historical and spiritual significance, the Buddhangala Monastery has faced neglect and insufficient preservation efforts from the government. The area's chief priest and Buddhist government servants have valiantly defended the monastery against encroachment attempts, safeguarding its sanctity and heritage.

A Haven Amidst Adversities

Protecting the Sanctuary: Defying Encroachment Attempts

The Buddhangala Monastery has faced various encroachment attempts by Muslims and Tamils in the surrounding areas. However, the steadfast determination of the chief priest and the support of Buddhist government servants have thwarted these endeavours, preserving the tranquillity and sanctity of the monastery.

Withstanding the Dark Era: Tamil Tiger Terrorism

During the dark years of the Sri Lankan civil war, the Buddhangala Monastery symbolised unwavering faith and resilience. While the Tamil Tigers terrorists carried out ethnic cleansing and displaced Sinhalese communities, the bhikkhus of Buddhangala bravely refused to abandon this sacred place. The Sri Lankan army protected the site and its inhabitants, ensuring their safety amidst tumultuous times.

Sri Lankan Army's Protection: Ensuring Safety and Access

Following the defeat of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in 2009, the general public gained unrestricted access to the Buddhangala Monastery. The Sri Lankan army played a crucial role in safeguarding the site during the turbulent years of the civil war, enabling devotees and visitors to experience the spiritual aura of this ancient sanctuary without fear.

Unravelling the Name

The Mystery of Buddhangala

The original name of Buddhangala Monastery remains unknown. One theory suggests that the name could be derived from the shape of the rock formation, resembling Buddha in a lying position. The Tamils and Muslims residing in the surrounding areas refer to it as "Buddhankalei," which may have influenced the current Sinhalese name, Buddhangala.

"Buddhankalei" and the Sinhalese Derivation

The local communities' interaction with the Buddhangala Monastery has resulted in various names for this sacred place. The Sinhalese name, Buddhangala, may have emerged from the Tamil term "Buddhankalei," showcasing the multicultural aspects of Sri Lanka's historical and religious landscape.

Traveling to Buddhangala

Route 1: Colombo to Buddhangala via Kandy-Mahiyangane-Padiyatalawa

If you are travelling from Colombo, one of the possible routes to reach Buddhangala Monastery is via Kandy, Mahiyangane, and Padiyatalawa. This scenic journey spans approximately 320 kilometres and takes about 6-7 hours, offering breathtaking views of Sri Lanka's lush landscapes.

Route 2: Colombo to Buddhangala via Ratnapura-Beragala-Wellawaya-Monaragala

Another option to reach Buddhangala from Colombo is by taking the route via Ratnapura, Beragala, Wellawaya, and Monaragala. This picturesque journey covers around 340 kilometres and takes approximately 6-7 hours, allowing you to witness the natural beauty of Sri Lanka's southern region.

Ampara Town to Buddhangala: A Short Distance Journey

If you are already in Ampara town, reaching Buddhangala Monastery is convenient. The distance between Ampara town and Buddhangala is only 8 kilometres, with a travel time of approximately 30-45 minutes. You can quickly embark on a spiritual pilgrimage to this ancient site.

The Buddhangala Monastery stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Buddhism and the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. With its mysterious origins, awe-inspiring relics, and tales of resilience, this sacred sanctuary beckons travellers and devotees alike. Amidst the lush jungles of Ampara, the monastery invites you to explore its history, engage in religious ceremonies, and find solace in its serene ambience.

FAQs

1. Can I take photographs at Buddhangala Monastery?

Photography is generally allowed within the monastery, but seeking permission from the resident bhikkhus before capturing images of specific areas or individuals is advisable.

2. Can I participate in any religious ceremonies or meditation sessions at Buddhangala?

Yes, visitors are often encouraged to participate in religious ceremonies and meditation sessions at the monastery. It provides a unique opportunity to experience the spiritual essence of Buddhangala firsthand.

3. What is the significance of the relics unearthed at Buddhangala?

The relics unearthed at Buddhangala, including the gold casket and the inscribed bo leaves, hold great historical and spiritual significance. They are believed to belong to Sariputha and Maha Moggalana, two chief disciples of Buddha.

4. How was Buddhangala Monastery protected during the Sri Lankan civil war?

Despite the threats posed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists, the Sri Lankan army protected the Buddhangala Monastery and its inhabitants, ensuring their safety during the turbulent years of the civil war.

5. What are the driving directions to reach Buddhangala from Ampara town?

To reach Buddhangala from Ampara town, you must travel approximately 8 kilometres, which takes 30-45 minutes by road.

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