Menikdena Archeological Reserve
Menikdena Archeological reserve lies on the Dambulla - Kandy road few kilometres away from the Dambulla town. The reserve lies between the beautiful Menikdena tank and the Nikula or Menikdena Hill range reaching a 875m height. Menikdena archaeological reserve covers a area of 2 hectares (5 acres) and the Arboretum covers about 14 hectares (35 acres) of forest land.
The history of Menikdena Monastery dates back to the time of King Kittisiri Megha (555-573 AD) but some archeologists believe this monastery dates back as far as 3rd to 4th century AD. From the beginning, it served as a home to recluse arahants from this time and was known as Budugama.
Records also indicate that Menikdena was used as a military base by King Vijayabahu I (1110 - 1111 AD) during his campaign against the Cholas and that it also served the same purpose during the campaign of King Parakramabahu I against King Gajabahu II (1132 - 1153 AD). A large camp site could be seen on top of the Nikula - Bibile hill above the Atha Bandi Weva tank. Legend has it that the name 'Atha-Bandi' came into usage with the Royal Elephant of King Vijayabahu I having been rested there.
Menikdena has the typical five structures found in such monastic complex. The entrance to the monastery is from the Menikdena Tank side. Six wide granite steps flanked by guardstones and a blank moonstone makes up the entrance. On the right before the steps is a granite pillar inscription.
On the left to the entrance is the Stupa which is built on a large high platform. The entrance is a set of granite steps with guardstones. At the top on the sides of the steps is a carved animal which is not very clear. Only the dome of the stupa remains and three of the four flower alters has been partially restored but one has been left as it was found. Only one buddha statue remains in a reasonably good state.
Yupa gala of the stupa has been taken out and lies on the floor. Around the stupa are dilapidated stone carved with the Siri Pathula and a broken stone lamp.
Opposite the stupa is a bodhigara where the Bo tree used to stand. Beyond these two are the image house and the and the Chapter house. The massive stone pillars of the chapter house still stands majestically.
Menikdena has been declared as an Archaeological Reserve in 1957.
How to get there
Menikdena Viharaya - Daily Mirror, February 06, 2006
February 3, 2007