Easily accessible via the Southern Expressway, this Buddhist temple is situated in the well-known southern Sri Lankan coastal town of Matara. Despite now being known as the world’s largest Buddhist tunnel temple, the beginnings of this temple are in fact quite humble. The story begins in the former part of the 20th Century when the Buddhist monk Venerable Parawahera Rewatha Thero was actually sent to this area as a punishment. When he arrived with nothing but his bowl and blanket, the area was merely a mound of thick jungle spanning over a ½ acre area with just one Bodhi tree. The monk then within a short period of time managed to round up the local villagers and got himself a small clay hut built for shelter and safety.
However, his work did not end here. In fact, it was his plan to build the world’s largest and first-ever tunnel temple right at this very spot and today that dream has come true several years later, with the help of one of the leading figures of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and India, Anagarika Dharmapala. The foundation stone was laid by him all the way back in 1939 and today the world’s first tunnel temple is an attraction to both tourists and Buddhist pilgrims from all over the island as well as the rest of the world. Despite once being rural, Matara and the rest of the southern coast has become quite commercialised within the last few years, as has the rest of Sri Lanka. Luxury resorts can be found in numbers across the southern tip of the island, such as the nearby Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort.
A strenuous excavation process was embarked upon in order to create the 600 foot tunnel that ran through the Earth. The tunnel now depicts various scenarios from ancient Buddhist tales and parables, known as “Jathaka” stories. Following the completion of the tunnel, work on the 39 foot Buddha statue began, which only then finished in 1976.
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+