The ancient meditational hub of the Northern Provinces of Sri Lanka, you will discover so many places that have been used by Buddhist monks for their meditational purposes along their path to enlightenment. There are many caves that have been discovered with drip ledgers and Vavuniya is famous in terms of Buddhism significance as well. The many tanks scattered around the town provides nature lovers with ample relaxation and bird watching opportunities.
Madukanda Sri Dalada Viharaya
This is the first Dalada Maligaya, where the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha was housed after it was brought into the country by Hemamala and Dantha from India. The famous Thonigala inscription is close to the temple as well. Close to the temple is the last ancient walawwa was located which was called the Madukanda Walawwa. You would find that many tourists who are on their way to Jaffna or even those who come to Vavuniya would visit Madukanda temple.
During the Lent season (in April), pilgrims from all over the country arrive at Vavuniya to participate in the Way of the Cross. The journey has 15 stops which are marked by life sized statues and in 2014, 8 of these statues were destroyed by people who have no respect for others, but these statues were rebuilt soon.
The museum comes under the Department of Archaeology and has a good collection of artifacts such as some beautiful statues of Lord Buddha, Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Roman Catholic items of worship. Most of these items have been carbon dated to the 5th to 8th century. The museum is open daily except for public holidays and Tuesdays. The museum is free of charge and photographs are not allowed inside.
The temple was built more than 2200 years ago by King Devanampiyatissa, right after Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka. The name of the temple translates to “the rock that the sage came down from”. The old stupa had been destroyed over time and the new stupa is built on the same place, which is on top of a beautiful rock. The temple consists of a dragon entrance, ancient ruins, a statue of King Devanampiyatissa and a sacred bo tree.
Handagala Kanda ancient cave temple
The hill upon which the Handagala kanda temple is located is filled with 45 ancient caves with drip ledges. The temple is located at a height of almost 300 feet above the surrounding area. Getting to some of these caves is a bit hard. These caves have been used by the Buddhist monks for meditation. The temple has some beautiful frescoes and Lord Buddha statues.
This is one of the lesser-known temples of Sri Lanka which is spread across a large area of land. You would need around 1 – 1.5 hours to explore the entire complex. There is a stupa, a bo tree and many ruins carved into the rock, including two Lord Buddha statues. The temple’s history dates back to the 3rd century BC and it’s said that when the sacred bo tree was brought to Sri Lanka from India, the tree was kept at Tantirimale temple for a night before going to Anuradhapura. The temple is located close to Wilpattu National Park.
Maha Kachcha Kodiya Temple
Nandimithra, one of the ten giant warriors of King Dutugemunu was born here and he was one of the great warriors who helped defeat the invading Indian King Elara. Once King Dutugemunu won the war, it is said that the people of this village had made a flag in his honour which was made out of Redi Kachchiya. Due to this the place is known as Kachcha Kodiya. The ancient Sri Pathula Gal and Yupa Gala are located here which were ancient objects used for worship prior to creating Lord Buddha statues. There are 23 drip-ledged caves in the area as well.
Kimbulgala Rock and Cave
Nandimitra, one of the ten great giant warriors of King Dutugemunu knew this area well since his home was not far from here. Therefore, he used his knowledge of the place to choose this Kimbulgala rock as a good meeting point for the army during the Battle of Vijithapura between King Elara and King Dutugemnu. During these meetings, King Dutugemunu had frequently visited this rock to address his army. The cave has drip ledges carved into the top of the rock which indicates that Buddhist monks have used this cave for their meditation.
Iru Pothana Ruins
This is the exact location where Nandimitra, one of the great giant warriors, was born. There are many caves in the area suggesting that there had been many Buddhist monks in ancient times who were meditating in search of enlightenment. Apart from the caves there are many ruins which are of immense archaeological value.
This photogenic kovil is dedicated to the Hindu God of War – Murugan who is also called Skanda and Kartikeya. God Murugan is the son of God Shiva and Parvati and his brother of God Ganesh. This kovil is very colourful and the Gopuram has been masterfully carved. May devotees from around the country arrive at this kovil during its festive time. The wedding hall next to the kovil provides you with the opportunity to have your wedding in a very picturesque setting with local heritage.
One of the new Hindu kovils which were built in the Vavuniya town which is still only 25 years old. The Gopurams here are nicely done since the location is easily accessible to the villagers, you would see many locals coming here in the morning and in the evening to carry on their daily worship. Visit the kovil during the busy times so that you can witness the poojas.
This is not to be confused with the Thonigala inscription in Anamaduwa which is far away from Vavuniya. The inscription mentioned here is that of the one in Vavuniya. The inscription in Anamaduwa is 100 meters long, each letter is one feet tall and the letters have been carved 1 inch into the rock making it quite easy to read. However, the inscriptions in Vavuniya are a bit hard to read since it’s more than 1700 years old. The first inscription has been read which talks about the Grain distribution and is considered as one of the most important inscriptions in Sri Lanka
Yan Oya Dam
One of the newer constructions by the Sri Lankans, the Yan Oya Dam is a giant reservoir project in the island. This project provides water to the rural areas of Vavuniya which is said to be around 20,000 acres of paddy cultivation and the Dam can hold up to 149,000-acre feet of water. The fifth largest river in Sri Lanka, the Yan Oya is 2.3km wide and the dam had been constructed across this.
Kallaru Bridge Lookout Point
The Kallaru river is a beautiful small water stream that crosses through Vavuniya. Early in the morning and in the evening, this is a good place for birdwatching. The government has made a look out point for birdwatchers and travellers to stop and enjoy the nature at its fullest. The bridge that runs over the river is called Kallaru Bridge. Once at the lookout place, walk around the place and if the water level is low, go down to the riverbed for better views and opportunities of taking better photographs.
One of the many tanks in Vavuniya, but this one provides unique opportunities for bird watchers since many bird species can be seen here. The tank on certain months is filled with water lilies and other flowers and plants which is an incredibly beautiful sight to witness. The Sun sets are a delight to watch over the tank as well. Be sure to stop here on your way through Vavuniya on the A30 route.
This is the best tank in Vavuniya to see birdlife and sometimes you might be able to witness different species of birds travelling together and coming to the Vavuniya tank for a rest and to catch fish and drink water. Another beautiful location for photography, this is the biggest tank in the town. So therefore, you can move around and find your best spot.
A boat ride in the tank is the best way to experience nature at Pavankulama tank. The boat safaris are not properly done, and a good opportunity waits for those who are interested in that and also other pesca tourism activities surrounding the tank. There are many bird species in and around the tank as well and one can do a walking bird trail and also a boat safari as well
Have you ever wanted to stay at a local community, learn about their culture and help out with their daily work so that you can give something back to society? Sevalanka Farmstay is the ideal location for you where there is lots of farming area and livestock to be taken cared. In the evening you can jump into the swimming pool at the Sevalanka Farmstay and they have basic accommodation for overnight stays as well.