To reach the Buddangala Raja Maha Viharaya/Monastery visitors can follow Buddangala Road from the centre of Ampara Town and travel for some six kilometres to arrive here.
The drive is indeed refreshing with scenic vistas of paddy fields and sections of jungle. The majority of this historical temple is spread out across a large rocky plateau of five main rocks covering some 200 acres.
According to legend, Buddangala was established here by Princess Chitra (daughter of King Panduwasdev and Bhadda Kachchayana – wife of Prince Deegagamini, who developed the province of Digamadulla).
Circa 1216 it is believed that the invading armies of South Indian Prince Kalinga Magha destroyed this monastery.
Subsequently it lay in ruin until 1964 when this complex was rediscovered and brought back to life. During initial excavations, a gold casket containing what is believed to be a tooth of Lord Buddha was discovered.
In June of every year a special exposition of these relics take place and in this regard a dedicated elevated platform for the veneration of these relics is to be found beside the temple dagoba.
ACROSS THE BRIDGE
To reach the upper level from the car park visitors must cross over a small tank via a foot bridge.
At the other side of the footbridge is the temple’s milky white dagoba (with a connected elevated platform for the veneration of special relics when on display), image house, two bo-tree shrines and a curious display of Lord Buddha preaching to what is said to be five merchants or the bas vaga thawusan.
Lovely views of the desolate surroundings, scattered with ponds can be enjoyed from here. By walking forward and crossing over to the other side of the pond, a replica of the Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya reclining and standing statues of Lord Buddha can be observed.
FROM THE TOP
Visitors can also explore the temple complex with a few examples of caves with drip ledges used by monks for meditation and other spiritual activities alongside ruined artefacts such as monolith pillars, stone inscriptions, balustrades, moon and guard stones dotted around.
Towards one side of the pond are five modern and recent pillars with an engraved granite wall plate in front, said to be the Dhammachakkappawaththana Sutta (a record of the first teaching given by Gautama Buddha).
Keep an eye out for the skeletal remains of elephants closer to the entrance bridge. This serves as a reminder of this temple’s remote location and setting. A curious statue of a human that is only flesh and bones is also on view, highlighting to all the impermanence of life according to Buddhism. There is also a small museum area here with some details about the past of this place.