Took me a few minutes to roll out Buduruwagala without stuttering. Budurugawala means “the rock with the statue of Buddha”. It is the largest standing Buddha statue in the island’s Wellawaya in Uva Province and is actually all of 51 feet. Easily 5 stories high. It is also one of 7 rock sculptures to be found in this ancient Buddhist temple complex dating back to the 10th century. A trio of statues stand to the left and right of the 15m central Buddha. With that streak of faded orange, one can only imagine how this set of rock statues must have looked back then. Impressive now, it must have looked truly majestic then.

(Trivia: It is the tallest standing Buddha statue now after the Taliban destroyed the one in Afghanistan in March 2001)

Our bus brought us to the complex gate, after driving past a lake and through this very narrow bridge. Certainly required skillful driving and in that instant, I forgave our driver for all the times he alternated between speeding, overtaking on curves (omg!) and suddenly stepping on the brakes esp while I’m sleeeping. Pheww!

(Trivia: Sri Lanka’s crime rate is largely comprised of road accidents/traffic infractions. That plus adultery, according to our guide)

The complex gate entrance is a short and pleasant walk through a park to where one finds the 7 rock statues. Very well-maintained with a “zen ambience”. The walkways are hemmed in by full grown trees that provided shade on that otherwise hot and humid day. You hear birds chirping and find many butterflies around in this very serene complex. Two resident dogs were found sleeping just before the rock. Took a photo of the pair while my pseudo Buddhist friends paid their respects. Hmmmm.

(Trivia: Other historians have actually dated the statues to the 6th century)

To the left and right of the gigantic standing Buddha is a trio of rock-cut figures all belonging to the Mahayana school of thought. The one on the left is believed to be a Mahayana deity Alokiteshvara, flanked by an attendant and his consort, Tara. The trio of sculptures on the right consists of Vajrapani ( the Tibetan Bothisatva) flanked by Natha (the future Buddha) and Vishnu. The rock on which these were carved looks like a kneeling elephant with a head bent towards the ground. Tantric influence can be gleaned here as one finds Vajrapani holding an hourglass-shaped thunderbolt symbol of Tibetan origin. Of interest is the hole near the right foot of the central Buddha statue. Shaped like a flame from an oil lamp, it is always wet and smelling of mustard oil. There is not one explanation for this.

(Last photo: Thanks, Angel R)

Buddhists, Pseudo Buddhists, Buddhist-wannabees and non-Buddhists will all enjoy the serenity of this place. So peaceful, so quiet. You may visit way too many temples and shrines in Sri Lanka, but please don’t miss this if only for a few minutes of calming silence. Besides, you don’t need to take off your shoes here. 😊