Magul Maha Viharaya


The rough sea tossed the gilded canoe on to the stony beach and the terrified young woman stepped ashore. Devi – the only daughter of King Kelani Tissa who ruled the southern Sri Lankan kingdom of Kelaniya, was sacrificed to appease sea gods during the first recorded tsunami of the island in the second century BC. She was placed in the gilded canoe and floated down Kelani river to the sea. King Kavantissa who ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom, came to meet Devi, fell in love and married her. Magul Maha Viharaya was built where this union took place.


Well, that is how the story goes. The snag is that inscriptions on stone pillars at the site state that the complex was built by King Dathusena who ruled Anuradhapura in the sixth century! May be Dathusena renovated and expanded the already existing second century BC complex and carved his name on the stone tablet. Whatever it is, Magul Maha Viharaya is a charming archaeological site and well worth a visit. We stopped there on our way to Pottuvil.

We walked along a narrow stone causeway and entered the complex through and elaborate gateway in the inner defensive wall. There are several ruined stone buildings with carved columns. The moonstone is unique being the only one in the country depicting elephants with mahouts. There is brick dagaba on a stone platform and a large image house. A circular stone stage is said to be the place where Kavantissa married Devi.

Inner defence wall

The Dagaba

Image House

The place where King Kavantissa married Devi

The marriage ceremony took place here


As the evening advanced and shadows lengthened, we left Magul Maha Viharaya and drove the 16 or so kilometres to Jetwing Surf in Pottuvil for the weekend.


The visit was arranged by Jetwing)


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