Tissamaharama

Yattala Vihara

Yattala vihara is located by the main road between Debarawewa and Tissamaharama. It is said that this was built by "Yuwa Raja" (Deputy King) Mahanaga, who laid the foundation for the kingdom of Ruhuna. Owing to a personal difference of opinion with the wife of his brother King Davanampiyatissa, Mahanaga had abandoned "Raja Rata" and fled to Ruhuna with his wife. On their way to Ruhuna his wife had developed labour pains and given birth to a son. This son was named Yattala Tissa and it is popularly believed that Mahanaga built a vihara at the place where his son was born and named it Yattala-vihara after him.

But recent archaeological excavations carried out at this place have led historians to reject this idea, that it was Yattala vihara and to believe that it is most probably the Tissamaharama of ancient times. Archaeological investigations has also thrown sufficient evidence to conclude that it was the largest chaitya in Ruhuna in ancient times.

An elephant wall, similar to the one surrounding Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura has been discovered in this area. Judging from the statues, caskets, stone pillars, flights of steps and other materials unearthed during investigations, it is clear that in ancient times it had been a very large institution. It is now certain that “Veil Maluwa” or the promenade of the dagoba had extended even across the present Tissamaharama main road. The remains found at this place suggests that there had stood at this spot, a stupa with a large parasol. All this evidence has led archaeologists to believe thoroughly that this had been the location of Tissamaharama, which had indeed enjoyed prominence among all sacred places of Ruhuna at this time. It is hoped that the excavations carried under the leadership of the Archaeology Department at present will help definite conclusions to be drawn on this subject.

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