Buduruwayaya Archaeological Site
- Hidden treasures of Bakamuna -
The word “Bakamuna” evokes much excitement. Maybe because we hear less about this little Mahaveli town with its farming community. A road rarely travelled by the usual pilgrim or tourist.
Our destination was to the vicinity of Bakamuna – the archaeological site of Buduruwayaya. All the information we possessed was that the site was in the south west of the Wasgamuwa park, some 6 kilometres from Bakamuna town.
We turned in at Dambulla and then at Naula. It was a delightful drive, a little like the scenery on route to Trincomalee. Interweaving scrub, grass, tree and boulder ridden jungle, varying in its green and brown patches.
At one point we were travelling along the thick green of the Wasgamuwa Park separated by the elephant fence. We passed the Elahera and the Bakamuna towns. From Bakamuna we were surprised to be directed to the new Dambulla-Polwathuwadiya expressway, still under construction.
The road was wide and excellent for driving on. On either side, vast green fields spread endlessly blending into misty mountains and fleecy cloudscapes. The road was deserted and very rarely we came upon human habitation. Continuous inquiries on the whereabouts of the site at last brought us to a board that pointed to the Buduruwayaya archaeology site.
The unpretentious envisage of the incumbent priest blended well with the jungle environs. The priest greeted us. He was happy to talk to us of the elephant and other animals that lived in the area. They were of no harm to him he assured us. He pointed at the various forest trees; burutha, kolon, kumbuk, palu and vira that surrounded the temple, in particular the Kaluwara (ebony) trees of great age.
He offered to take us to see the recumbent Buddha image that the site was famous for. We walked slowly under the huge shade trees. It was around 11 am. The bright morning sun tinted the tops of the trees with luminous patches and dappled the carpet of dried leaves on which we walked. The environs rang with the calls of the birds. We saw a pair of Malabar pied hornbills flying heavily in front of us.
We passed a mound of earth and broken bricks grown over with scrub. This, the priest told us, was formerly the dagoba. Here and there a guard stone, a moon stone, a stone pillar emerged out of the earth -a relic of a forgotten past. Under one tree some antiquities found at the site had been placed.
These included a stone inscription and a siripatula stone – stone slabs on which the Buddha’s Sacred Foot Print is carved. Another object that looked like a small rectangular water trough about 7 inches in depth was also found at the site.
And then quite suddenly we came face to face with the enormous figure of the recumbent Buddha carved in the living rock. The fine features of the image seemed to have disintegrated.
The image could be compared to the Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara’s recumbent Buddha image, but here devoid of any paraphernalia that distracted the attention due solely to the image.
The image reposed on its rock bed in the shade of the trees. The sun filtering through a million delicate leaves gently touched the image with a deep reverence. “The rock used in this carving is known as “Chandrakanthi pasana gal’ which belongs to the limestone variety” the priest told us.
Here was peace wrought in eternal stone, and here was the picture of freedom from all that is worldly - of Nirvana achieved. We stood silently trying to take in the magnificence and majesty that seemed to radiate from the broken image.
At the feet of the image on the rock boulder there is some indication that two figures had been molded. The priest was of the opinion that they were of king Parakramabahu. Pointing at some hollows on the boulder he was also of the opinion that long ago this image may have had a roof supported by stone pillars.
We asked the priest what other ruins lay in the area. He told us of some ruins that were inside the Wasgamuwa park, believed to be that of an ancient palace, and of some rock caves with drip ledges and brahmi inscriptions witnessing to their antiquity.
Right in front of the image, at a distance of a mere few feet, was the elephant fence separating the boundary of the Wasgamuwa Park.
We walked back to the avasage listening to the sound of rushing water over boulders. That is Hiratiya oya we were told.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
February 16, 2007