“Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient temple which is among the sixteen holiest Buddhist shrines [Solomathana] in Sri Lanka. It is reachable both from road and sea. Sea route begins at Trincomalee to Muttur on boat and another 16 km by roads. Land route is via Kantalai, to Allai which is approximately 45 km through dense forest.
List of Monuments in the complex:
1. Stupa - Origin 2nd Century B.C. - restored in 1920's.
2. Restored Northern entrance - This building has evidence of molded bricks, balustrades, guard stones and moonstones. In addition there is ruined ceremonial gateway with carved stone door frame.
3. Western entrance - Evidences of preliminary stages of stone works in moldings showing exemplary stone jointing methods.
4. Southern entrance - Balustrades with elephant motifs, guard stones and stone door frame etc.
5. Eastern entrance
6. Image house building at the Stupa terrace
7. Sculptured stone lotus
8. Bo tree shrine [Bodhighara]
9. Ancient pond
10. Remains of ancient Chapter House
11. Remains of monasteries
12. Remains of a building on stone pillars
13. Natural stone platform and caves with primitive paintings
History and Development
During the reign of Kavantissa (2nd century B.C.) the Kingdom of Ruhuna was threatened by invaders. The king had to evolve a strategy to prevent a disaster. He was very well aware that there was a buffer state of Seru on the north eastern seaboard of Sri Lanka which was ruled by a prince by the name of Siva. The King finally had been able to solve the problem avoiding military confrontation and as a result he had to build a Stupa at Seruwila.
King Kavantissa knew that he could make use of the loyalty and respect the Sinhala nobles and the populace had for Buddhism to win over Princes Siva and Abhaya, his ally. The word was spread by religious teachers that Sacred Relic of the Buddha which was in the possession of Kavantissa was destined to be enshrined by him personally in a stupa to be built at Seru and that Lord Buddha had prophesied this would happen. […]
Having extended his authority to the Seru district Kavantissa had caused the marsh in the vicinity of the stupa to be drained and converted into a lake. Having done this, he had dedicated the lands around the shrine to a distance of eleven miles for cultivation so the harvests could be used for the maintenance of the sacred shrine and the 500 monks who were the residents there. There are evidences that Arahats have resided in the caves around the Stupa terrace. In the vicinity of the dagaba is an ancient inscription which goes back to the second century. It states - "Bata Gutaha Lene Caduke" which when translated means - "The cave of Lord Gutta is dedicated to the Sangha of the four quarters."
There is another rock inscription belong to the period of King Kassapa IV [A.D. 898 - 9141 mentioning about the Arahats and identification of the place name as Tissa Maha Vehera. Another inscription found at the Stupa terrace belongs to the reign of Kassapa V [A.D. 914 - 923].
Over the years, the stupa fell into decay under the pressure of the Tamil invasions from the north. But there are evidences in the literature that this area was under the purview of the Kandyan territory during the 17th Century AD and the existence of this stupa.
Comparison with other similar properties
Buddhists consider Stupa enshrining relics of Lord Buddha are the highest places for worship and they venerate such places. There are few such places in the country; Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, Yatala Stupa in Hambantota, Seruwila Raja Maha Viharaya and Somawathie Stupa in Polonnaruva are considered as the places that are believed to be enshrined Buddha's relics.”
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.
General location of the Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha monastery, SL.
Lat 8.43361 Long 81.35775
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2013.
Google Map link:
1. Monastery's name
- Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha monastery
2. Monastery's modern country & province
- Sri Lanka:North Eastern Province
3. Monastery's alternative/historical names
- Tissa Maha Vehera - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates
- Approx. Lat 8.43361 Long 81.35775 - based on visual identification of the site in maps/satellite imagery and Panoramio photographs, maps.google.com - tmciolek, 24 Jan 2013.
5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries
- [missing data]
6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village
7. The settlement's alternative/historical names
- Seruvila - http://www.fallingrain.com/world/CE/31/Seruwawila.html
- Seruvilla- http://www.fallingrain.com/world/CE/31/Seruwawila.html
8. The settlement's coordinates
- Approx. Lat 8.3667 Long 81.3167 - http://www.fallingrain.com/world/CE/31/Seruwawila.html
9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition
10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition
- [missing data]
- Est. during the reign of Kavantissa (2nd century B.C.) - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- MBM chrono-tag: <=0200 - tmciolek 24 Jan 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
- In the vicinity of the dagaba there is a second century [AD] rock inscription - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- There is also a rock inscription from the period of King Kassapa IV [A.D. 898 - 914] mentioning identification of the place name as Tissa Maha Vehera - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- The Stupa terrace has an inscription from the reign of Kassapa V [A.D. 914 - 923] - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- The stupa fell into decay under the pressure of the Tamil invasions from the north [from 1215 to 1326 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_conflict_in_Sri_Lanka, tmciolek] - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- MBM chrono-tag: 1200=> - tmciolek 24 Jan 2013
14. Details of contacts with other monasteries
- [missing data]
15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery
- [missing data]
16. Additional notes
- The monastery had 500 resident monks - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by
- [missing data]
18. Available Printed Literature
- "Historic Seruwila" - An unpublished M.A. Dissertation by Mr. P.D. Ratnasiri submitted for the Post Graduate Examination in Archaeology of the University of Kelaniya. Submitted in May 2002. - http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5083/
- [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 2]
- [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 3]
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