Kadurugoda Raja Maha Viharaya

Located in the remote village of Kantharodai, the Kadurugoda Raja Maha Viharaya is a prime example in Jaffna showcasing the influence of Buddhism that was introduced during the 3rd century BC. Encapsulated in a myriad of legends and religious tales, the archaeological site was only just rediscovered as recently as the last century, making it an ideal place for the history buff to explore and unravel the true origins of the ancient site.

Best Known For

  • The Kadurugoda Raja Maha Viharaya is best known for its archaeological findings, which are the 20 or so stupas that are built with coral limestone and has numerous stories of its origin, as its unique structure, in terms of shapes and sizes make it look rather out of place, due to its remoteness. A closer look into the backstory of the complex, however, says otherwise.

Interesting Facts

  • The first major story of the origin of the site starts in the 3rd century BC, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa of the ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom.
  • When Princess Theri Sangamitta visited Sri Lanka with the sapling of the sacred Bo tree (Fig tree) that the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under, it is believed that the road from Jaffna to Anuradhapura went through the village of Kantharodai and as such she is believed to have visited the temple.
  • The second story of the origins of the unique stupas begin in the 16th century, during the reign of King Sangili of the Chola Empire.
  • Due to the change in shift of powers from the Sinhalese kingdoms to the Tamil kingdoms, 60 Arahats (monks) decided to leave to India, due to the discrimination they faced.
  • On the way to India, the monks decided to rest in Kantharodai and accept alms from the local residents.
  • It is believed that a mushroom curry was poisoned, which resulted in the death of all the monks; the stupas are believed to be the tombs of those monks.
  • Historians also argue that the death was caused due to a famine.
  • It was only in 1917 that the complex was rediscovered.
  • At present, archaeologists have found a total of 56 stupas, of which only 20 are now visible.
  • Furthermore, remnants of a shrine room, coloured tiles, Buddha statues, including ancient Roman coins have been found, making it possible to conclude that the area was an important place of trade and religion during ancient times.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The archaeological site in Jaffna is open to the public from dawn to dusk, however, the ideal time to visit the historical place of worship is during the morning hours, as there are lesser crowds in the area and the weather is just right.
  • Please do keep in mind that this is just one of the few prominent vestiges of Buddhist culture in Jaffna, therefore it is important that you give respect to the place, when visiting.
  • Please refrain from either defacing or destroying the artifacts, as they are priceless.
  • Do not bring any polythene or plastic, as the complex is surrounded by nature and it would be a shame if it were to be destroyed.
  • Do bring along your camera, as the site proves to be a unique one that cannot be seen anywhere else in Jaffna.

The Kadurugoda Raja Maha Viharaya then, is symbolises a society long gone in the Jaffna Peninsula with the passage of time, however it still tells tales of intrigue to the history enthusiast interested in exploring the archaeological site.

Title image by: KNOWSL

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