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Nagadeepa Viharaya

Nagadeepa is one of Mannar Gulf’s smallest inhabited islands and is only about 35 miles from India. Merchants have come here and the nearby islands for a long time to purchase the conch shells harvested in this Gulf’s hot shallow waters. Of course, the conch shell is crucial for certain rituals of Hindu and Buddhism.

Since the 1st century CE pilgrims have thronged Nagadeepa to pay homage to this stupa.  The island is one of the seventeen sacred places in the Mahavamsa and the Tamil Buddhist epic, Manimekala, mentions a gem-studded throne and a stone with the footprints of the Buddha in Nagadeepa  Vihara where Indian pilgrims used to come and worship.

About a kilometer from this temple rests Nagadeepa Vihara which depicts the place where Lord Buddha is said to have resided when he visited this small island.  On either side of the road lie the Bo-Tree and the stupa which is painted silver.  The two temples in the area have one which contains the bronze image of Lord Buddha, which was given to the temple by the Burmese Government in 1956. Nagadeepa does not have any aesthetic or historical background as everything in its surrounding and in it has been built in the 1950s.

Buddhists are of the view that in Sri Lanka, Gautama Buddha visited 16 places. The Mahawamsa states that in the fifth year after Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, he paid a visit to Nagadeepa, where he was able to bring peace by resolving a dispute between the Naga Kings Chuladara and Mahodara, pertaining to a gemmed studded chair.

Lord Buddha’s second visit was in the 5th year of his Enlightenment and it was at this time that the Naga Kings were about to go to war. However, seeing the Buddha, the halted and paid homage, while renouncing the gem-studded throne, over which they were to go to war, to Kind Manikittha.