Sithulpawwa Rock Temple
Sithulpawwa Rock Temple
4.5
Points of Interest & LandmarksReligious Sites
About
Sithulpawwa rock temple is historically significant and identified as one of the greatest 2nd century sites of Buddhist scholarship. With a history of over 2200 years, this is an ancient place of worship in the Hambantota district. The modern name Sithulpawwa is derived from the ancient ‘Cittalpabbata’, ‘The hill of the quiet mind’.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles90 reviews
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55
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26
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edit71
edit 71176 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
My guide and driver took me on part Safari then up to the wonderful Rock Temple. Although it’s basically a dirt track used by the odd bus and local it’s less busy then the main payable Safari park. It’s basically one road that is in a different zone of the park and there is forest for quite a bit of the trip to the temple. Managed to see a leopard and many birds, monkeys, wild pigs and even a crocodile on a large lake. It would be worth visiting the Temple even if there wasn’t the bonus of the journey to it. The views are wonderful from the Temple of the forest and even Ella in the distance and it’s very well looked after. A beautiful place in the middle of the trees. Go.
Written 1 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jayantha W
Colombo, Sri Lanka23 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021
On the way you will see Peacocks, Deers wild pigs. Temple parking lot has some pigs waiting for food and Elephants! We found the worst toilets in this temple ground. 20 Rupees, no tap water at the moment, but very dirty. Need a good washroom complex. Rocky Temple area can be hot during day time. Free entrance for tourists!
Written 5 January 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marie B
Chiang Mai, Thailand215 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Friends
The journey skirts through an untouristed area of Yala on the way to this rock temple. Views from here are magnificent and the climb through rocky forest is exhilarating. If you are lucky you may also spot wild animals along the road: elephants, bears, deer; perhaps even a leopard. Best attempted in the cool of early morning or late afternoon.
Written 2 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Prabath Somasekara 🇱🇰🇬🇧
Cheltenham, UK323 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2015 • Friends
We visited Sithulpawwa during our trip to Yala few days back. This temple is located at a very calm and relaxing environment at Yala park.
This is an ideal location to obsetve wildlife as well
Written 14 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sameera K
Ella, Sri Lanka291 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2014 • Friends
Sithulpawwa rock temple is historically significant and identified as one of the greatest of Buddhist scholarship.
Written 19 January 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kaluhath Anura de Silva
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka13 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Family
Sithulpawwa

Situated in Kirinda in Hambanthota District, Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya has also being called Chiththala Pabbatha in the ancient texts. Stone Inscriptions has identified this location as “Chithala Paawatha Vehera”. This temple complex is attributed to King Kavanthissa who ruled southern area of the country.
Sithulpawwa is known as a location where thousands of Arhaths lived at one time. According to folklore it is said that a novice monk called Thissa who has reached the state of Arhath lived here and later a stupa was built encasing his remains thus this also has been known as Tissa Thera Chetiya.

Sithulpawwa Stupa
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya contains large number of stupas, cave temples, Buddha statues a stupa house and image houses spread among a large land area. Among these there is a cave temple with ancient paintings thought to be belonging to the 3rd century BC. These drawings have been done on a thin layer of plaster on the rock surface and primarily used red – yellow colours.
The main stupa has been built by flattening the top of a rocky mountain. There are two approaches to the stupa. Stone steps have been cut from the south and the north. The boundary walls of the maluwa area have been built using large rocks. Remains of many buildings can be seen on the Northern side of the stupa.
sithulpawwa rajamaha viharaya
In addition to the main Sithulpawwa stupa another hill called the ‘Small Sithulpawwa ’ also contains similar stupa and buildings. Stupas have been built on each peak of this rocky mountain range and all these have been built in the Pre Christian Era.
A large amount of valuable items has been found from the excavations on this site including an exclusively made image of goddess Thara in a seating position and many Buddha statues. Two Statues of the Awalokeswara Bodisattva can be seen on the main cave temple. One of these is dressed as a royal and the other is plainly dressed as a sage.
A large number of rock inscriptions have been found throughout the vihara complex. All these belong to the pre Christian era and some letters in these inscriptions show localization effects compared to Inscriptions in the Anuradhapura in the same era. Some of these pre Christian inscriptions mentions two of the ‘Dasamaha Yodhayan’ (the ten giants in the Army of King Dutugemunu) called Nandimithra and Welusumana. Another giant of the ‘Dasamaha Yodhayan’ Pussadeva is also said to be from this area.
According to the great chroricle Mahawansa, King Vasaba has built 10 stupas in the Sithulpqwwa (then Chiththal Pabbatha) According to stone inscriptions King Mahallaka Naga (134-146) has built stupas and donated land to the temple and the regional King Dappula of Rohana has donated the village called Gonmitigma in 659 AC. Today this village has been identified as Gonagala.
Written 2 September 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Santa B
Riga, Latvia150 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019 • Couples
We arranged a safari car from our hotel. The cost was 69 USD. With a TukTuk or snother vehicle if would have been difficult to get there since were driving after heavy rain. On our way we saw lizards, spot deers, different birds including lots of peackocks. When arrived st the temple there were wild boars and an elephant, who were approching the visitors for food. So, we had a mini safari and a visit to the Temple. It has amazing views to explore from the top of the rocks. The climb is difficult, especially, if you go in midday like we did. It's better to choose early morning or a cloudy day.
Written 21 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Seevali D
Colombo, Sri Lanka8,975 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Friends
A group of six of us started early morning from our hotel at Tissa and travelled to Situlpawwa along Kirinda – Situlpawwa road on 12th February 2019. On either side of the road was thick forest as it runs through Yala National Park. Lo and behold! There were three leopards right on the middle of the road, two adults and a cub. We observed them without getting too close lest they go away. I also did not have a long lens with me to photograph them as I did not anticipate an encounter with wild animals! After a while they sauntered into the jungle and we proceeded to Situlpawwa, enjoying the beauty and serenity of the jungle. As we approached Situlpawwa car park area, there hundreds of wild-boars including many cubs – probably used to easy food from pilgrims and visitors. There is a large parking area and a few shops catering to the pilgrim and devotees who visit here in numbers over weekends and full moon poya days. There is a police post too at the edge of the parking area.
Surrounded by thick jungle, the first to come to view was a stupa atop a hill. As we came closer, another bigger stupa too became visible. The smaller stupa atop the taller hill is Kuda (small) Situlpawwa while the larger one, visited by most devotees is called Maha (large) Situlpawwa. On our ascent to the ancient Buddhist temple Maha Situlpawwa, we came across a troop of monkeys enjoying their breakfast on wild berries. The path up to the 80-metre-high rock was on a gentle slope along ancient steps carved into rock. Even those with mild knee problems in our group did not find the ascent tiresome as they could hold on to the handrail by the side. At the very top is a notice advising pilgrims not only to remove their shoes but also to carry them along to prevent them from being lost to the monkeys who roam around freely.
At the top of the rocky summit is the majestic stupa, about 12 metres in diameter, in the shape of a bubble, built by levelling the top of the rock. We were told that this stupa dates back to 2nd century BCE. From this vantage point we could see Kuda Situlpawwa, image house, various ruins of buildings and locations of bo-trees as well the pond used for bathing. As we came down the southern steps built with stone, there were ruins of some small stupas on either side. The southern steps end at the current temple premises that house an image house, sleeping quarters for the priests as well as an office, where one could make donations for the upkeep of the temple. Walking further down into a lower area at the eastern side you come to the impressive cave temple. There lie two Buddha statues one in sleeping position and the other seated. The sleeping statue is over 8 metres long. On the far side of the cave house are ruins of two statues with missing hands, housed in a pavilion for protection from the elements. I was absorbed by the symmetry, dignity and grace conveyed by these statues even though they had been damaged. We were told that these images date back from the 4th century. The whole complex appeared to be well maintained and adequately take care of.
We did not attempt to climb the taller hill, the Kuda Situlapawwa, as we were too tired and hungry. As we walked back from the temple complex, there was an elephant, sauntering on the other side of the steel fence, just a few metres away, seeking food. Though we were rather uneasy at first, the policemen told us that there was no cause to fear and that he is harmless. He is apparently used to getting fruits fed by visiting pilgrims.
Advise to visitors – Take a bottle of water along with you to quench your thirst. When you remove your shoes at the summit before entering the Stupa enclosure, carry them with you to prevent them from being hi-jacked by monkeys! You can avoid having to walk on the hot rock if you climb early in the morning. Entrance is free to all!!
Written 26 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sujithgunawardhana
Negombo, Sri Lanka203 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2014 • Family
I love this place and when ever I go to Katharagama I never forget to go there. It's a must visit place if you are traveling in that region. Build on the rock and still the old building architecture can be seen. Very nice place in the Yala national park. I love the way that we have to travel to reach Sithul pawwa. If you go early morning lot of animals can be seen. Road is not very comfortable but worth while going.
Written 8 February 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pesh_Mindini
Negombo, Sri Lanka20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Family
We went to Jetwing Yala and on the way back to Colombo we were visited the temple. road was not so good but worth for visiting this temple. As a Buddhist must visit this.
Written 3 September 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Sithulpawwa Rock Temple (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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