Mani Naga Pabbatha monastery, (near) Pottuvil, North Eastern Province, SL

Raw data

“Sastrawela Mani Naga Pabbatha Viharaya - Currently the village of Sastrawela is a tiny speck of habitation situated on the Panama-Pottuvil Road. […] Yet back in the hay day of the Ruhunu Kingdom, Sastrawela was not only well known, but it was considered as an important seat of learning. According to folklore, the name Sastrawela is said to have been derived from the original name Shastraweiliya which indicates that the locality was associated with an institution of learning. […] Legend says that scholars from far away kingdoms and even across the seas from India had travelled to Sastrawela to learn the various disciplines of science and astrology.
An important ruin remaining at Sastrawela which gives a glimpse of those prosperous times is Mani Naga Pabbatha Viharaya which is said to date back to the time of King Mahanaga, the first King of Ruhuna. The temple which is in near ruin with an incomplete Stupa and few scattered granite pillars […] The Stupa which is said to have been built by King Mahanaga had been renovated by King Kavantissa and his son, Saddatissa. Also in the vicinity of the stupa are several caves with Brahmian inscriptions indicating that the area was first presented to meditating monks in the early 3rd Century B.C. Stone pillars and other ruins remain scattered around the vicinity of the stupa, indicating that this was once a huge monastic complex, sheltering many monks.
The history of Sastrawela goes back to the 3rd Century B.C when the Ruhuna Kingdom was established by King Mahanaga, brother of Devanampiya Tissa. Mahanaga fleeing from Rajarata after an assassination attempt established his capital in Magama, believed to be in modern day Tissamaharama. Since then Ruhuna flourished for many centuries at times as an independent kingdom and at times as a semi autonomous sub-kingdom under the rule of Anuradhapura. […]

Route from Batticaloa to Mani Naga Pabbatha Viharaya
Through : Kalmune - Akkarapattu - Pottuvil - Arugam Bay

“Halfway between Pottuvil and Panama lies the monastery of Shasthrawela. Once the abode of 500 Arhat Bhikkus, Shasthrawela now lies in ruins, with most of its treasures plundered and destroyed over time by raiders, wild animals and the unforgiving weather.
On a road leading towards the beach from the Pottuvil – Panama highway, lies Pan Kande Hela: a series of undulating hills running its course to the seashore near the inlet of the Heda Oya. It ends in a rocky outcropping with a sheer precipice facing the sea. This area is positively riddled with caves and outcroppings which were used by the Bhikkus of that time for meditation.
At the base of the hill lies the ruined remains of a large stupa, almost 500 feet in circumference, and 60 feet in height. its center has been hewn apart by treasure-hunters, and the brickwork is now held together and kept from crumbling to pieces by the gnarled roots of the trees which have grown atop it over time. This appears to be one of the largest stupas in the eastern province unearthed to date.
A stone inscription nearby states that King Maha Dhataka Maha Naga, son of Pudakana Gamini Abhaya, grandson of King Devana Piya Gamini Naga has donated this land and its vestments to the Maha Sangha, and is hereby named as the Bodhigiri Naga Pabbatha Vihara. The Mahawamsa also refers to a monastery constructed by King Dhataka, known as “Mani-Naga Pabbatha Vihara,” in the Kalayana Kannika Kingdom. The Mahawamsa further states that Kalayana Kannika is an ancient reference to the kingdom of Rohana. With these facts considered, it is the opinion of archaeological experts such as C. W. Nicholas that the Bodhigiri Naga Pabbatha Vihara referred to in the stone inscription and the Mani-Naga Pabbatha Vihara mentioned in the Mahavamsa are one and the same.
“Shasthrawela” seems to be a distortion of “Rahath-wela > Rathra-wela,” stemming from the fact that the Arhat Bhikkus used to frequent the river running alongside the paddy fields for their daily ablutions, and so in essence it became the “wela frequented by rahath Bhikkus.”
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. Forlorn stone pillars bear silent witness to the invading jungle from either side. 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 near-totally destroyed by treasure hunters. The cave wall had been plastered over and adorned with frescoes, but only glimpses of mauve and hints ochre remain today, […]
Further uphill is a vantage point from which the entire seascape of Arugam Bay is visible. It is possible to grasp the vastness of this monastery from here, and it is, in a word, staggering! I stand near the plundered ruins of two stupas, each over 20 feet in diameter. The monk accompanying us speaks of another larger stupa on the adjacent hill, a little inland, and a smaller one on the rocky outcropping near the sea.” -
Input by: tmciolek, Jan 24, 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 24 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 Mani Naga Pabbatha monastery, SL.

General location of the Mani Naga Pabbatha monastery, SL.
Lat 6.80976 Long 81.81690
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2013.

Google Map link:,%20SL)&ll=6.80976,81.81690&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • [missing data]

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Sri Lanka:North Eastern Province

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat 6.80976 Long 81.81690 - based on visual identification of the site in maps/satellite imagery, - tmciolek, 24 Jan 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

  • [missing data]

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 - tmciolek 24 Jan 2013
  • <=0200 dated-e

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Epigraphic, archaeological

16. Additional notes

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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