SAMANGALA FOREST HERMITAGE

Samangala-Aranya-5

From Ampara, visitors can travel along the A27 Maha Oya Road passing Uhana and some 15 kilometres on at Weranketagoda Junction, visitors can then make a left turn onto the Samangala – Bandaraduwa Road and proceed for another eight kilometres before making a left turn onto Samangala Senasanaya Road that leads directly to this hermitage.

From the car park, visitors can walk for around one kilometre to reach this hermitage’ cave complex. There are said to be over 50 drip ledge caves within this complex and visitors can easily tour and visit around six such caves (Guru Lena, Raja Lena etc.) that all dot the sloped hills of Samangala Mountain.

Large Cave

Towards the very top of the mountain is a very large cave with an extremely tall mouth. By looking closely, visitors can observe at ground level, the ruins of various pillar mounts that indicates that at some point in time, this entire cave was sheltered. This in indeed a staggering achievement as the height of the cave is close to 50 metres and the pillars were placed here before electricity was even discovered!

Also within this cave, at the bottom, can be seen the remnants of what was once said to be a larger- than-life reclining statue of Lord Buddha and also a bo-tree shrine. Beside each cave, stone inscriptions describe various grants, gifts and donations made to the temple and the period of construction.

Graffiti

Basic drawings that are also to be seen here are credited to the indigenous veddha group of people, thought to have occupied the hermitage when it had been abandoned in the past. A crude illustration of a dagoba shrine on display is considered very similar to the Sanchi Stupa in India, perhaps therefore indicating that monks from foreign countries once roamed these places.

From this upper level, a brief view of the Samangala Lake can be taken in and a cool and breezy climate is also to be enjoyed by all. This temple was thought to have been established here by King Saddhatissa.

The path leading to the caves features an elevated pond and the entire route showcases various patterns of vines and roots, twisted and snaking their way across the forest canopy.

Don’t forget to walk around and have a look at all the caves that differ in size and design. Today, most of the caves include a small room where monks can reside for meditation or other spiritual activities with a rock-cut pond often also to be seen in the vicinity.

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