Gonagolla Monastery (Punchi Seegiriya), Ampara

A monastery with cave murals.

Just a few miles away from Kothmale Canal Settlement on the Galoya Valley is one of Digamadulla’s oldest monasteries with remnants of murals as old as the tenth century BC. 

Found inside a cave, once used as a shrine room, the murals are on vaulted ceiling of the cave and have being drawn on a special plastered and polished surface. The remaining murals depict a scene of a young woman, alleged to be of Naga origin, venerating Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.  The Bodhisattva seems to be holding a lotus flower with a long stork in a vase in veneration to a Buddha statue, which has long gone missing. 

The red, orange, green and brown shaded earthly colours used in the picture are made of natural ingredients and belong to the Polonnaruwa era, although other constructions in the monastery belong to the third century BC. The cave entrance is still adorned with carved rock pillars, which still stand crooked, while the remains of stupa—of Anuradhapura era of architecture—are scattered all around the cave having been ravaged by the treasure hunters too. Three parallel rows of standing rock pillars further indicated the presence of large scale construction on monastery grounds, now destroyed by time, weather and humans. 

A rock stairway, also destroyed, in the middle leads to the top of a rock plateau, which is scattered with ruins of various buildings. The bricks used for the construction belong to the centuries BC but only the rock pillars stand up right today.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 7.435069 Longitude: 81.628511 Elevation: 138 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Udana Wickramasinghe

Hours Open

During daylight hours

Time Period Represented

3rd century BC.

Seasons Open

Year-round

Accessibility Notes

Colombo –Mahiyanganaya - Continue onto Kandy-Mahiyangane-Padiyatalawa Highway continue onto (Peradeniya – Badulla - Chenkaladi) highway – turn right at 69th milepost – continue onto (Ampara – Uhana - Mahaoya) highway – Gonagolla (288 km – 5 Hours 10 min)

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