The Sinhala word ‘Buduruwagala’ means stone images of the Buddha and ‘Buduruwagala’ with its astounding east facing rock sculptures has to be seen to be believed. The figures are carved on a rock resembling a kneeling elephant with its trunk in its mouth. Visitors can see replicas and photo exhibits of the ‘Buduruwagala’ statues at an art gallery Sri Lanka has in store such as the well renowned Sri Lankan Art Gallery which is located in Colombo.
‘Buduruwagala ‘lies in a dry zone forest in the district of Monaragala in the Uva Province on the road to Tissamaharama .Reached by a side road to the west which is five km away from Wellawaya it is a lovely but hot or dusty drive or walk through dry zone jungle dotted with little lakes , butterflies , tropical foliage and birds. The discomforts would be far outweighed by the masterpieces of Sri Lankan craftsmen of yore. The Buduruwagala Lake would be a good place for a break. This is also wild elephant country.
The colossal rock sculptures of Buduruwagala consist of seven figures. The central Buddha figure of 51 feet is the tallest Buddha figure in Sri Lanka. (It also may be the tallest in the world now that the Bamiyan figures in Afghanistan are no more). This standing Buddha Statue still bears traces of its original robe and a lengthy streak of orange suggests that the figures were originally painted. The raised right hand shows the fingers in the Abhaya Mudra position, the posture indicating kindness and freedom from fear.
The other figures are of Bodhisatva Avalokiteshwara, his consort Tara Devi is his consort Tara Devi, Prince Sudhana, their son; the Buddha Maithri.. and Vajrapani or God Sakra.
No historical records are available to ascertain the exact date of the ‘Buduruwagala’ statues but the general consensus is that they were crafted in the 10 century a period when Mahayana Buddhism was to the fore in the island and during the reign of King Valagamba. The statues clearly show the Mahayan influence and are done in the the Pallawa Sri Lankan tradition like the ones at the Dowa temple, Uva Province. Those visiting Buduruwagala can conveniently visit Maligavila statues, the Dematamal temple and the historical temple in Yudaganawa, Buttala.
Shehera Fioni is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Catalina Forbes. Her content is based on many thrilling escapades offered to travellers across the world.