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Yatala Viharaya

Yatala Viharaya is an ancient stupa which is situated in Debarawewa in the Tissamaharama region of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The stupa has been constructed on large flat granite rocks and has a carved elephant head wall, a moat and a big moonstone around it.

Regional king Yatala Thissa of Ruhuna is thought to have constructed the stupa 2300 years earlier to celebrate the location where he was born. However, some think that regional king Mahanaga, Yatala Thissa’s dad, constructed the stupa to mark his son’s birth. This stupa was also referred to in numerous historical texts and chronicles as Mani Chethiya and Yattalaya. It is not known up to date what was enshrined within this stupa,  but archeological findings have revealed many caskets. There is also belief that the stupa was offered to Arahant Ariththa Thero, who was supposed to be the first Sinhalese Arahant. This was bestowed by the King of Ruhunu.  It is also believed that this stupa is the first of its kind to be constructed in the Ruhunu.

The restoration work of the Yatala dagaba began in 1883 AD and the restoration took over a century. In the refurbished stupa, a tiny opening was left to observe the various building stages.

One house of images includes 2 statues of Buddha bigger than life size sculpted from Rock. One statue’s head has been broken and only the feet are visible Another image house was reserved for a big stone sculpted image  of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is a Mahayana Buddhism conception in Sri Lanka had become Natha Deviyo. The stupa has an elephant wall which is said to be the oldest in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s royalty of the past should be commended for the beauty that all the relics and ruins contain. The remains of buildings still stand even after 2300 years, which is indeed a feat in itself.