Tholuvila monastery, (in) Anuradhapura, North Central Province, SL

Raw data

Tholuvila Monastic Complex [… is situated next to] the Nivanthaka Chethiya ruins and the Maha Vidyalaya." (Edirisinghe 2010)

"We then take the A 12 and approach the historic Tholuvila Monastery Complex. Sadly the earlier road that skirted the extensive archeological site has been barricaded for security reasons and a new road heartlessly bisecting the centuries of history has been constructed. Almost immediately on entering the new road (A12) our eyes greet the scattered ruins of the monastery complex on both sides of road. Although the area is signposted as a protected archeological site encroachment of the site is visible to every one as we see barbed wire fencing of ‘private’ properties side by side strewn stone pillars. Tholuwila, among others like Pankuliya and Puliyankulama are pabbata viharas that are found in the outer circle of the city. These monasteries have several features in common. They are all moated and inner to the moat they usually had bamboo fences. The dwellings of the monks with areas for ablutions came next. The other essential features were the presence of the image houses, cetiyas and the bodhigaras. Each of these structures were precisely placed facing the appropriate direction. The moat that surrounded the Tholuwila complex are obliterated by modern day activities but water logged marshy areas are still visible indicating the moat site. Some scholars believe that the main object of veneration at the complex was the bodhigara while others consider the bodhigara and the four Buddha statues on the four sides of the bodhigara were the seat of veneration. The bodhigara is seen in an elevated terrace with steps leading to it from the bottom. The aesthetic creativity of the architects that built this complex is demonstrated by the long avenue or the stone paved ambulatory with a decorative curb that extend from the central structure for nearly hundred meters. The new road heartlessly goes right across this magnificent creation while hundreds of vehicles including trucks, buses, motor cars and armoured vehicles traverse the site day and night desecrating our proud heritage.[…] Tholuvila is a household name among the thousands of Buddhists of this island. Mere mention of the name is enough to fill one’s heart with karuna, muditha and upekka as one takes his mind back to the infamous Tholuvila Buddha statue which is second only to the Samadhi statue in its serene beauty. The Statue, first discovered by HCP.Bell, now adorns the entrance to the National Museum in Colombo." (Edirisinghe 2010)

Input by: tmciolek, 9 Sep 2012

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 21 Jul 2014

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 Tholuvila monastery, Sri Lanka.

General location of the Tholuvila monastery, Sri Lanka.
Lat 8.34869 Long 80.41365
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20SL)&ll=8.34869,80.41365&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Tholuvila monastery - Edirisinghe (2010)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Sri Lanka:North Central Province

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat 8.34869 Long 80.41365 - based on the visual identification of the site in satellite imagery and maps, - tmciolek, 9 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

  • Theravada

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • [missing data]

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • Deserted soon after 1070 A.D. when the capital (together with its civilian population and monks) has shifted from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva for strategic reasons - Kulatunga (1999:3-4)

MBM chrono-tag 1033-66c 1067-99p - tmciolek 21 Jul 2014
1033-66p 1067-99p 1100-32p dated-x

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data]

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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