Once a great seat of learning in the east of Sri Lanka, Shasthrawela was the abode of five hundred Arhants and was known as the Pabbatha Bodhigiri Vihara. Today only ruins of a once grand complex of preaching halls, viharas, dagabas and Buddha statues remain of these grand vihara initially built by King Kawantissa during the second century BC.
A stone inscription on site states that King Maha Dhataka Maha Naga, son of Pudakana Gamini Abhaya, grandson of King Devana Piya Gamini Naga has built and donated monastery to the Maha Sangha.
At the base of the hill stand the ruined remains of a large stupa, almost 500 feet in circumference, and 60 feet in height, one of the largest stupas in the Eastern Province. A little further in lies the entrance to the monastery, through a narrow and steep uphill pathway strewn with the ruins of an ancient rock staircase and adornments.The stairway leading to the upper caves has become twisted with the roots and undergrowth, making the path a precarious one. It opens up into a clearing with a large cave facing the northwest. Within it lie the remains of a large reclining Buddha statue, almost 30 feet in length, and destroyed by treasure hunters.