Spread out over an expansive area of 4403 hectares the Kudumbigala Sanctuary is a sprawling cave complex of ancient record in the emerald isle of Sri Lanka. Declared a national sanctuary as far back as 1973 this breathtaking environ is an ancient hermitage that is second only to Sithulpahuwa in terms of significance. The large cave complex which was occupied by Buddhist monks as early as the 2nd century and was a thriving hermitage and cave abode for countless priests who meditated and lead a life devoted to religion till recent times.
Ideally located a mere 10km from Augum Bay Kudumbigala is 11 miles from Panama and Pottuvil and is an impressive larger than life complex of more than 200 stone caves. Having earlier served as a dwelling for meditating monks during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa the venue still functions as a locale of refuge for meditative individuals as denoted by the Brahmin inscriptions visible on a cave surface. Dubbed the Maha Sudharshana Lena the inscriptions on the cave state that the cave was a gift from Nandimitra Yodaya (One of the ten giant warriors or the famed “Dasa Maha Yodayas” of King Dutugemunu) to the Arahats. Renowned as a thriving aranya senansanaya during pre-Christian times this sacred venue is believed to posses mythical powers as many a meditating monk is said to have reached the end of his sansara cycle at this holy locale.
Towering above the treetops of Panama the Kudumbigala cave complex is littered with boulders and other ruins of large complexes that once housed monks and the various amenities necessary for their simplistic way of life. Secluded and cut off from the hustle and bustle of life beneath the vaulted cave complex is a serene quarter bathed in tranquility and natural elements. Taking in the captivating views on the windy summit of this sacred venue it is not difficult to comprehend why this special location was selected for contemplation and reflection by ancient monks and spiritual souls alike.
Other points of religious interest in the area include the Okanda Devale while the Helawa lagoon is also popular among tourists for its stunning beauty and fishing practices.