Muhudu Maha Vihara, Pottuvil | Sunday Observer

Muhudu Maha Vihara, Pottuvil

19 June, 2022
The newly built chaitya
The newly built chaitya

The ancient site of the Mudu Maha Vihara is on the coast to the east of the town of Pottuvil. At an elevated site is a ruined dagaba which had not been excavated. The sands of the sea shore appear to be covering much of the ruins at the site.’

The image house

The image house was excavated and two beautiful life-size stone images of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara were discovered buried among the debris.

Several brick items and terracotta sculptures were discovered in the process of excavation.

The main Buddha statue of Mudu Maha Vihara

A large number of artefacts are buried among the sand dunes generated by the waves of the sea. From an elevated site on the coast a dagaba can be seen. The remains of a pillared structure are found on the west of the dagaba. A standing Buddha image made of limestone and two statues of Bodhisattva Maithree and Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara could also be found inside this structure, which appears to be an image house.

To the south are the remains of another structure. Archaeologists believe these statues belonged to the Mahayana shrine in Ruhuna in the 8-9 Century.


Excavations conducted thus far have revealed that this was built by King Kavantissa, a fact confirmed by the stone inscriptions of the Magul Maha Vihara. For archaeologists, this is further proof that the brave princess Viharamaha Devi (205 BC – 161 BC) in fact landed in Pottuvil near the Muhudu Maha Vihara, rather than the legendary belief that she came ashore at Kirinde.

The Magul Maha Vihara, also within the Lahugala sanctuary, is famed for the Magul Maduwa, the altar upon which the princess married King Kavantissa, thus becoming Queen Viharamaha Devi of Ruhuna.

Records indicate that many other monarchs and their queens have renovated the stupa over the centuries.

Princess Viharamahadevi

The statue believed to be of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Legend has it that this Vihara marks the landing place of Princess Viharamahadevi, daughter of King Kelanitissa, who was destined to become the queen of King Kavantissa of the Ruhuna Kingdom.

According to the ancient chronicle Rajaavaliya, it is stated that in the second century BC after Kelaniya was submerged by the sea, due to a natural disaster. Devi the daughter of the King of Kelaniya was cast out to sea in a golden vessel to appease the gods, which washed ashore near Muhudu Maha Vihara in Pottuvil.

Later, she became the main consort of King Kavantissa of the Kingdom of Ruhuna as Viharamahadevi.

This archaeologically protected Buddhist monument was built over 2000 years ago by King Kavantissa of Ruhuna.

The archaeological Department has conserved these statues which were buried under the sand for many years. A new dagaba was constructed near the temple which is now a popular Buddhist site of visitors to the East.