Isdhoo monastery, (on) Isdhoo Is., Laamu, MV

Raw data

"Isdhoo or Isdū (according to the Admiralty charts) […] is one of the inhabited islands of Haddhunmathi Atoll, administrative code Laamu.
This island has important ruins from the historical Maldivian Buddhist era. These ruins include one of the largest stupas so far found in the Maldives. […]
Lat 2.119444 Long 73.569444"

"Haddhunmathi or laamu atoll is the larggest country in maldives. (Satu Duvu) atoll was playing an important role in the Maldives when the nation was a Kingdom. Many of the islands located on Laamu's eastern reef have important archaeological sites, like Dhanbidhoo, Mundoo, Gan and Isdhoo. These are remains of monasteries, viharas and stupas of large proportions.
Some of the most ancient writings of the Maldives are the Isdhū Lōmāfānu and the Dhanbidhū Lōmāfānu copperplates, relating to the conversion to Islam, the destruction of the Buddhist monuments, the beheading of the Buddhist monks and the building of mosques to replace the Buddhist temples and monasteries. These copperplates are from the year 1193 AD. The Maldivian king back then according to these documents was Sri Gadana Aditya Maharadun. A tentative transcription of the Dhanbidū lōmafānu was made by M. Ibrahim Loutfi and was subsequently published in 'Faiytūra', the organ of the Maldivian Cultural Affairs Council.
The temple compound at one of the Buddhist sites in Gan Island
H. C. P. Bell excavated some of the Buddhist sites in 1923. The Stupa in Kuruhinna, one of the Buddhist sites in Gan Island, was remarkably well preserved. Only the Chattravali (Satihirutalu) was missing. Unfortunately these sites have been vandalized since then and there is almost nothing remaining now, except for a heap of stones and gravel."

"The earliest surviving Maldivian government record, the Isdhoo Loamafanu, is dated 1194, forty years after the official conversion of the country [to Islam]. It has been translated by H.A. Maniku and G.D. Wijayawardhana, and records that rebellious Buddhist monks from the island of Isdhoo in Laamu atoll were taken in triumph to Male' and beheaded by 'the great king Gadanaadeethiya the Prosperous […]'. Pursuing a policy of Islamisation, the king 'refrained from killing those infidels who entered the faith of the noble Prophet Muhammad, got them to utter sahadhath and freed them having performed circumcision on them.'
[…T]he significance of this record is in the detail of instructions for the maintenance of the new mosque at the desecrated monastery on Isdhoo. The monastery's former serfs are reassigned to the mosque and their duties continue very much as before. Islands from as far away as Huvadhu atoll are ordered to continue their former offerings as tribute to the mosque, and poor people are released from their taxation obligations." O'Shea (1998-2009)

"Clarence Maloney examined 900 Maldivian islands and other geographical names and found that 'only four have Arabic or Islamic names, so it is clear that the whole country was populated and brought within a single civilisational system before Islam (1153), during the Buddhist period, or even earlier.' […] Communities of villagers built Hindu/Buddhist temples, and the Vajrayana or Tantric cults seemed to predominate." - O'Shea (1998-2009)

"Artefacts dating from around the 3rd century CE up to the 12th century CE highlights the country's Buddhist past. Many of the islands located on Handunmathi Atoll's eastern reef have important Buddhist archaeological sites such as Dhanbidoo, Mundoo, Gan and Isdhoo. There are remains of a temple compound and a well known, well preserved Buddhist stupa at Kuruhinna on Gan Island. Buddhist artefacts found elsewhere are now in the National Museum in Male."

Maldives - administrative subdivisions

Input by: tmciolek, Sep 17, 2012

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 14 Jan 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 Isdhoo monastery, MV.

General location of the Isdhoo monastery, MV.
Lat 2.1277 Long 73.5807
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2012.

Google Map link:,%20MV)&ll=2.1277,73.5807&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Isdhoo monastery

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Maldives:Laamu, Haddhunmathi Atoll

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 2.1277 Long 73.5807 - based on the location of the Aaasaaree Mikiyy (mosque) visually identified in maps/satellite imagery, - tmciolek, 17 Sep 2012.
  • An alternative location might be Approx., Lat 2.1319 Long 73.5500 - based on the location of the Isdhoo Havihtha (stupa), visually identified in maps/satellite imagery, - tmciolek, 17 Sep 2012.

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

  • Vajrayana - O'Shea (1998-2009)

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag: 0200-32p 0233-66p 0267-99p - tmciolek 14 Jan 2013
  • 0200-32p 0233-66p 0267-99p 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 dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag: 1133-66c - tmciolek 14 Jan 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • "The loamafanu (copperplate government records used Maldives from at least the 12th century) were written in the curly Evela form of the Dhivehi akuru or old Maldivian alphabet, which has strong similarities with the Tamil Grantha script of the 7th century Pallava and Pandya dynasties. In certain documents, a form of old Nagari or Protobengali script is present, which shows that there are contacts with the centers of Buddhist learning of Nalanda, Ratnagiri and Vikramasila. These must have taken place from the 8th century onwards, when Buddhist culture revived and flourished in Eastern India owing to the patronage of the Pala kings of Bengal.'" - O'Shea (1998-2009)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • archaeological

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. 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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