The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Mulgirigala Rock Temple is perched on an enormous boulder more than 200m high and is one of the finest cultural sites in the south of Sri Lanka as well as offering a chance for some decent exercise. The rocky crag, found 17kms north-west of Tangalle, nestles in a coconut grove and offers a peaceful journey back into Sri Lankan history, considerably quieter than comparable sites in the cultural triangle.
According to ancient inscriptions carved on the rock, Mulgirigala – also known as Mulkirigala - dates back almost 2,000 years when it was a site of a Buddhist monastery. This is a living temple that is visited by many devotees; nearby there is a Buddhist school for young monks.
Clamber up around 500 steps to reach the summit where a serene white dagoba sits in residence and you can soak up magnificent coastal views from the top of the crag. The temple complex consists of ancient murals, a recumbent Buddha statue, devalayas (or idol houses) and seven cave temples cleft into the rock at five different levels while ascending via steep, well-maintained steps.
As well as the Buddha statues there are some equally intriguing wall paintings which warn earthly sinners of an afterlife of eternal torture.
Buddhist temples have been located at Mulgirigila for more than 2,000 years, although most of what remains – and there is much of it – dates from the 18C. More details about each individual cave can be found here.
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