Sithulpawwa, Yala National Park - Timings, History, Darshan, Pooja Timings

Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Yala National Park): 22 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 2 Hours

Place Location: On Tissamaharama-Yodhakandiya Road

Transportation Options: Cab

Travel Tips: None

At a distance of 17 km from Kataragama, 22 km from Yala and 28 km from Tissamaharama, Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery located deep within the natural habitats of the Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. Located on Tissamaharama-Yodhakandiya road, it is one of the popular pilgrimage places to visit near Yala.

Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya is believed to have been built in the 2nd century BC by King Kavantissa. With a history of over 2200 years, this rock temple is considered to be one of the supreme 2nd-century sites of Buddhist scholarship. Sithulpawwa is known as a location where thousands of Arhaths lived at one time.

The monastery straddles a collection of rocky outcrops and caves deep in the heart of Yala National Park. There are said to be hundreds of caves and shelters within and around the complex that have housed monks (for centuries) who came to the site to further their education as well as to meditate. Surrounded by only the sounds of the wilderness and temple chants, a journey to Sithulpawwa is a peaceful escape that is fitting for its original name 'Chiththala Pabbatha', which means the hill of the quiet mind.

The temple is located atop a rock (400 feet high) hence one must climb a flight of stairs to get to the summit where the brilliance of the dagoba, rock caves and the view can be witnessed. Paintings of the Anuradhapura era and the ruins of stone Buddha images, Bodhisattva images, Image Houses, Circular Relic Houses are spread throughout the monastery premises. A large number of rock inscriptions belong to the pre-Christian era have been found throughout the vihara complex. The present chief incumbent of Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Vihara is Ven. Metaramba Hemarathana Nayake Thera.

The temple's surrounding is a natural habitat for wildlife, hence spotting a deer, a boar, sometimes even an elephant is a possibility. The temple is within easy distance of the Yala National Park and could be visited at the same time. Sithulpawwa is now becoming more popular with local pilgrims.

It is recommended to use an SUV for the ride towards the Temple and also to go during the evening hours. The Yala National Park closes at 5.30 PM, so it's best that if you could start the journey to visit the temple by about 3 PM every evening. Avoid visiting during Buddhist holidays or school holidays when the site is crowded.

Timings: 8 AM - 5.30 PM

Entry: Free