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Kushta Raja Gala Statue

Shrouded in a great many fabled legends that cut across through ancient folklore and religious scripture, the, rather unknown statue of Kushta Raja Gala (Statue of the Leper King) is one of the few historical sites in Weligama, that can be viewed by travellers. Believed to be a significant figure in Mahayana Buddhism and sometimes believed to be the depiction of a foreign king that was afflicted with the curse of leprosy. The rock is a highly debated monument in the world of archaeology, however, one thing that everyone can agree on is the intricate carvings of the statue itself, making it quite the perfect setting for the history buff and the art lover.

Best Known For

  • The unknown statue is famed for 2 features. The first being its murky history, since folklore talks of one thing and religion talks of another, making it open for debate by many a history enthusiast.
  • The second being the statue’s attention to artistic detail, as its carvings still showcase the same grandeur it showed since its creation, making it quite the monument for the art lover to study and understand, the styles of the arts and crafts that prevailed during the time.

Interesting Facts

  • The statue has, somewhat, hazy origins, as there are quite a number of stories that surround it.
  • According to archaeologists, the statue is believed to have been carved out of the bas-relief between the 6th and 9th centuries and believed to be the depiction of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (a depiction of an individual who attained Buddhahood and embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, as told by the traditional Mahayana Buddhism in Sri Lanka).
  • Locals, on the other hand, argue that the statue is a depiction of a foreign king that visited Sri Lanka, while suffering from leprosy (‘kushta’ in Sinhala).
  • The legend states that the king was treated by the local doctor and was advised to take coconut pulp and water for 3 months continuously.
  • After his miraculous recovery, the king commissioned the construction of his statue to commemorate his recovery.
  • Some believe that the statue is a depiction of ‘God Natha’, who was once worshipped by the ancient Sri Lankans, who dwelled in the village.
  • Although its origins are debated by many an archaeologist, the statue still retains its grandeur up until this day, as its intricate carvings are still very much visible today, allowing one to delve into the carving styles of ancient artisans who dwelled in the country.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The Buddhist statue in Weligama is hidden in plain sight, just near the rail tracks that pass the Weligama town and is open for public viewing throughout the year.
  • There is no season for viewing the statue, as it is open throughout the year. However, the months from July to October have proven to be the period when the statue is most visited due to the surfing season of Weligama, which brings in a high number of tourists down south.
  • Please do not deface the statue, as it is an exemplary ancient statue filled with some of the more intricate carvings.
  • It is also important to refrain from bringing in any polythene or pollutants, so as to keep the premises clean.
  • As always, do not forget your camera so you can click away at the exquisite carvings.

In conclusion, the Kushta Raja Gala statue is a unique monument in the Weligama area, as its intriguing history and exemplary craft in the form of the carvings, make it a treat for the art lover and history buff to study and understand Sri Lanka’s rich culture and heritage.

Title image by: KNOWSL

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