Located in the picturesque landscape covering 300 acres, this aramic complex dates back to 3 rd centaury BC. But this location is most famous as the place that exiled king Sirisangabo offered his own head to a pheasant. Although King Sirisangabo ruled the
country only for two years (251-253 AC) and didn't built any significant monuments or irrigation systems nor won any war, he is one of the most known kings of the history of Sri Lanka.
After the death of King Sanghatissa, his son, Sirisangabo was given the throne and his more ambitious brother Gothabaya was given the post of the treasurer. Many didn't expect Sirisangabo to be successful as a king with his bodhisattva like lifestyle. Gothabaya too realizing this, was bidding time until king falls apart with his honesty and gentleness. But to everybody’s surprise he was very successful with his rule, and Gothabaya who could not wait any longer decided to overthrow him by force.
The armed rebel group led by Gothabaya started to march in to the capital and king Sirisangabo hearing this, decided to leave the kingdom to his brother rather than seeing bloodshed in the war. So he left the kingdom unnoticed and disguised with only a piece of cloth to filter water. He ended up in the place now known as Hatthikucchi and lived a life of a hermit in meditation. Meanwhile his brother Gothabaya couldn’t believe his luck and the became the ruler of the country without any opposition. But feeling that he was never safe while the Sirisangabo was alive, offered a large reward for anyone who would bring his brothers head. This was followed by a many killings by people who was trying to collect the reward. During this period one poor pheasant who saw Sirisangabo in this hermitage immediately recognised him as the ex king and thought about the reward money and how it would help his family. Sirisangabo immediately realised that the man was thinking about the reward and how it would make his life easier. The Ex-king not wanting to make the poor pheasant a murderer, took out a sward and cut his own head and offered it to the pheasant. The pheasant carried the head to the king and collected the reward.
Until recently the location where Sirisangabo gave his own head was thought to be Attanaglla Temple in Gampaha District but now most accept that this place is the Hatthikucchi. This area was called the Rajangana Ruins until 1979 until the Department of Archaeology put up a board identifying this place as Hattikucchi. The reason for this name is supposed to be a inscription of the word “Atti-Kucch” on a rock. It is believed this area was called Attanagalla at some time in the history as some inscriptions in this area refer to a place called “Athara Galla”. Considering all the evidence and the location, now it is believed that the Attanagalla referred to in historical documents is actually the Hattikucchi as it is called now.
The ruins and the stone inscriptions at the site dates from the 3 rd century BC and to about 10 th century indicating that this complex was born at the same time Buddhism was brought to the country by Mahinda Maha Thero. According to the chronicles there has been four main Buddhist monasteries in the country at the early stages. They were Mihinthale, Sithulpavwa, Dakshinagiri and Hattikucchi. Although this location was a highly developed Buddhist centre for over 1300 years, this location is now most poplar due its association with King Sirisangabo.
The main buildings which has been identified are a Vatadage (a stupa house), an image house, a pohoya house, some stupas, an alms hall, a semicircular building, an image house restored during the Kandy period, ponds, meditation chambers used at the very early stages of Buddhism, many of stone inscriptions and many cave dwellings used by meditating bikkus. The whole complex covers a area of over 300 acres. Although the stupa in the vatadage is in a dilapidated state the remains of the vatadage can still be seen including two impressive stone doorways. Between the vatadage and the steps to the rock there is a pathway to the right in to the jungle. By walking about 150 metres through the path you will come to a area where are remains of mediation chambers made out of 3 slabs of rock. These are said have been used at the early stages of the Buddhism.
At the foot of the rocky mountain is a image house made using a natural cave with a reclining Buddha state. This statue is thought to been done during the Kandy period and the stupa house it self by the villagers during later stage.
At the top of the mountain is the oldest stupa in the complex. Near the dilapidated stupa there is carving of a man running carrying something in the hand. This could be the picture of the pheasant carrying the head of Sirisangabo to the king to collect the reward.
From the top of the mountain you can get a wonderful view of the jungle below with numerous strangely shaped boulders spread across a large area including a hanging rock incredibly balanced on the edge of a another rock.
Since his area is located in a jungle elephants can visit this area specially during the dry season.
Hattikucchi Vihara Complex also known as Rajangana Ruins is located between the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala road which runs through Padeniya and Galgmuwa. It is about 40 kilometers away from Anuradhapura.
If travelling from Kurunegala, take the Putlam Road (A10 route) and travel along the road up to Padeniya. From Padeniya, turn to right towards Galgamuwa (on to A28 route). Passing Galgamuwa and after passing the 37 th kilometre post You will come to a junction called Mahagalkadawala (Maha-gal-kada-wala) (some times referred to as Gal-kalla). Turn left from there (you will see a board directing you towards Hattikucchi). After travelling about 3 kms another board will direct you to turn left again. The Aramic Complex is about ½ km down this road.
If travelling from Anuradhapura use the Galgamuwa road (A28 route) and passing Thulawa and Thambuthegama you will reach Mahagalkadawala as you pass the 36 th kilometre post. The roads are motorable and car can easily go upto the designated car park area.
February 3, 2007