Mulkirigala is an imposing rock structure with remarkable cave temples, located 21km north from the town of Tangalle in the district of Hambantota. The ancient rock steps lead the visitors through a series of natural caves, with unique wall paintings & Buddha statues, and on to the summit. This enormous boulder, known as ‘little Sigiriya”, rises perpendicularly approximately 200 metres out of the surrounding palm forest.
The various cave temples contain fine murals of historical importance, which have been created during different periods of Sri Lankan history. In some of the most recent murals, white men in Portuguese and Dutch uniforms can be seen, signifying the advent of the European colonization of Sri Lanka.The Mulkirigala caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with several reclining Buddhas, including the 15 metre long sculptures of the dying Buddha. Mulkirigala contains many beautiful wall paintings based on Jataka stories of Wessanthra and Telepaththa.
Some History about Mulkirigala
According to the ancient chronicle Mahavamsa, the Mulkirigala temple was constructed by King Saddhatissa in the third century. After this period the temple received royal patronage by numerous successive kings. In 461-479 AD period a stupa was constructed at Mulgirigala was by King Datusena and the temple was further developed by King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782).
The common name of temple is Mulkirigala, but it is also referred to s Mulgirigala, Muvathitigala, Muhudungiri and Dakkhina Vihara.
As mentioned in the Bodhi Vamsa chronicle, one of the temples known as Giriba Viharaya where one of a Bo sapling out of 32 saplings germinated from Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is planted, which was currently identified as Mulkirigala temple.
During the Polonnaruwa period this temple was known as Samuddagiri Viharaya, according to the Rev. Kamburupitiya Wanaratna Thero who had read the stone inscription of the pond.
Also with the arrival of the Europeans, Mulkirigala was named as Adam’s Berg. It is believed that Europeans confused Mulkirigala with the Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) and have believed tombs of Adam and Eve were located here.
The Rock of Mulkirigala rises about 676 feet from the surrounding land mass. There are seven cave temples situated in five Terraced areas of different altitudes. They are the Lower Terrace (Patha Maluwa), Bo Tree Terrace ( Bodhi Maluwa). Great King’s Temple Terrace ( Raja Maha Vihara Maluwa), Upper Bo Tree Terrace (Uda Bodhi Maluwa) and Chetiya Terrace (Chaitya Maluwa). These terraces can be accessed comfortably through well paved granite paths and steps going right upto the Dagoba Terrace.
How to Reach Mulkirigala
Mulkirigala Rock Temple or the Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya can be reached coming along Beliatta -Weeraketiya main road and turning off at Mulkirigala Junction. The temple is situated 2 kM from the Mulkirigala Junction. One can reach Beliatta Town from either Dikwella or Tangalla.