Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Statues at Maligawila - Maligawila, Sri Lanka

The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka
The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka

Maligawila is a small village approximately 250km from Colombo. The area is sparsely populated and is covered in jungle. In 1951 the fallen remains of a 7th century giant free standing Buddha statue (said to be the tallest free standing Buddha statue in Sri Lanka) were discovered in the area. The statue was part of a larger complex which also included a large statue thought to be of the Avalokitheswara Bodhisatva and a gedi ge (A Buddhist shrine).

More images inside.

The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka
 The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka

The Buddha statue is carved out of a single limestone rock and stands at a height of around 14 meters. When it was first discovered in 1951, it had fallen and was broken into pieces by a combination of the fall and treasure hunters. The first attempt of raising the statue was made in 1974 but was unsuccessful. The statue was finally raised and  restored in 1980 by a team of local engineers.

The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka
The Maligawila Buddha Statue - Maligawila, Sri Lanka

The statue was said to have been built by a King named Aggabodhi who ruled the southern region of Sri Lanka in the 7th century. A stone pillar found within the complex also documents the work done by King Mahinda IV (956 - 972 AD) to uplift Buddhism and also defines the rules laid down for the administration of Buddhist sites.

Statue of the Avalokitheswara Bodhisatva - Maligawila, Sri Lanka
Statue of the Avalokitheswara Bodhisatva - Maligawila, Sri Lanka

The statue of the Avalokitheswara Bodhistva is a short distance away from the Buddha statue. It too is carved out of a single limestone rock and stands at a height of approximately 10 meters. This statue too was found broken into several pieces due to its fall and the damage done by treasure hunters. The intricate details on the face of this statue have been preserved quite well due to the fact that the head had been lying face down for  an extended period of time (possibly hundreds of years). It was successfully restored in 1990. When we visited in July this year we found a scaffolding around it and more restoration work in progress.

All images on this post were captured with a Canon 7D and the 24 - 105mm lens.


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