Girihaduseya monastery, (in) Thiriyaya, Eastern Province, SL

Raw data

"Two merchants Thapassu and Balluka were fortunate enough to offer the very first alms giving to Buddha after he reached Buddha hood in 528 BC. Responding to their request, Buddha handed over to them his hair as a relic. According to a stone inscription dated to the eighth century [CE] found in the ruins, these two merchants carried the hair relic with them on all foreign business trips. Then these two merchants arrived in Lanka on a business venture. They placed the hair relic on a rock and went to collect some water and some wood. On their return, they couldn't lift the container, which had the hair relic. Realizing that the spot was a blessed place, they decided, in accordance with the tradition, to build a Dagaba enshrining the relic. This was how Girihaduseya Dagaba was built in Thiriyaya in Sri Lanka, enshrining this hair relic given to the two merchants. […].

Another stone inscription belonging to the second century BC proved that this was a monastery as far back as 150 BC. […].
In 407AD, Buddhaghosa, the greatest Buddhist commentator, recorded the beauty of the Girihaduseya Dagaba in the Thiriyaya Buddhist Temple. […]. He said Thiriyaya was a large Buddhist temple.

The Great Vijayabahu, who liberated Lanka from the Chola occupation, restored the Buddhist temple. In 1216 AD, in the dreaded 22nd invasion, the South Indian invader Kalingha Magha and the local traitors who hired him destroyed the whole complex. After that the South Indians called the place "Neethupathpana" [… or, sometimes] "Kandasamymalai".

The Thiriyaya Dagaba was restored in 1952 AD. Thiriyaya is situated 45 kilometers northwest of Trincomalee".

"One of the most important ancient monuments in the Trincomalee district in terms of historical and religious significance is Thiriyaya. It is also referred to as Thalakori in the 2nd century map of Ptolemy. Pre-Christian Brahmi inscriptions have been found in the area, the oldest belonging to the 2nd century B.C. The remains consist of the Vatadage, the small stupa inside the Vatadage, guardstones, a simple moonstone, and six shrine rooms around the Vatadage, the largest one containing a reclining Buddha made of bricks. The small stupa inside the Vatadage has been identified as the Girikandi caitya in which the two merchants, Thapassu and Bhalluka enshrined the Buddha's hair relics, which they received from the Buddha himself. An 8th century stone inscription found near the Vatadage describes the construction of Girikandi caitya by Thapassu and Bhalluka. Myanmar Buddhists believe that Thapassu and Bhalluka enshrined the hair relics in their famous Schwedagon caitya in Yangon. There is no ancient epigraphic evidence for this. The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, Hsiun Tsang wrote in the 7th century that he saw on his way to Bamiyan in Gandhara the remains of two stupas in which the hair relics were enshrined. Sri Lanka probably has the earliest evidence for these relics.

In 1983, under a stone slab near the Vatadage were found 31 Buddha images, 11 Bodhisattva images, and 3 Tara images and a casket, the upper part forming a dagaba and the lower part carved with Dhyana Buddhas."

Input by: GitaG, July 04, 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 25 Aug 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Girihaduseya monastery, SL.

General location of the Girihaduseya monastery, SL.
Lat 8.87132 Long 81.00753
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2013.

Google Map link:,%20SL)&ll=8.87132,81.00753&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Girihaduseya monastery

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Sri Lanka: Eastern Province

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat 8.87132 Long 81.00753 - based on visual identification of the Girihaduseya monastery ruins in maps/satellite imagery, - tmciolek, 05 Jul 2013.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Theravada

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag: <=0200 - GitaG 04 July 2013
  • <=0200 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag: 1200=> - GitaG 04 July 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data] (incl. details of the size of the monastic population)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

18. Known monks and nuns associated with this monastery

19. Available Printed Literature

  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 1]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 2]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 3]

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