The village of Maligawila is home to two enormous Buddhist statues that stand hidden among the trees of the unspoiled lowland jungle. Carved out of limestone, the impressive figures date from the 7th century and are thought to have been part of a monastery. The statues, which had topped over and lain in pieces for centuries, were raised to a standing position in the late 1980’s and reassembled over the following years.
The site is reached by a path that begins at the car park and winds through the woods to a point where it splits to lead to each of the statues. The left fork leads to the first of the two statues – an 11 m high standing Buddha. The image is supported by a brick arch at the back, which makes it possible to walk all the way around to admire the craftsmanship and marvel at its size.
The right fork takes visitors to the stairs that lead up to the bodhisattva statue, which is covered by a large canopy. To the left of the steps, under a productive covering, is a 10th century pillar that bears as inscription from the reign of Mahinda ɪ𝞶. It details the work undertaken by the king to support the Buddhist order and some rules about the administration of Buddhist sites. more