The Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya is an ancient rock temple found near Kirinda in the Hambantota District. According to historical texts, during ancient times it went by a number of other names, most notably as the Chiththala Pabbatha. In fact, stone inscriptions found on-site indicate that the location was once called “Chithala Paawatha Vehera”. A visit here will let you immerse yourself in the local culture and understand a bit about the long and storied history of ancient Sri Lanka.
It is believed that Sithulpawwa was once inhabited by thousands of arhat Buddhist monks. One particular monk named Tissa actually attained the state of arhat at the temple complex itself. The Tissa There Chaithya found on the temple’s premises is said to contain his remains. As you explore the monastery, you’ll come across a number of other stupas that were constructed within it. You’ll also witness a litany of wall painting and carvings that were left behind by ancient pilgrims – detailing their voyages and the state of affairs in the country. Some of these inscriptions can be traced back all the way to the 3rd century BC.
Sithupawwa lies on the way to several other major attractions, most notable the Yala National Park. Yala is one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka, so if you’re planning to visit the park, don’t forget to make a quick stop and visit this amazing cultural landmark.