The ancient Sinhalese were a curious breed. Aside from their world renowned medical concoctions that to this day are widely employed successfully throughtout the island, they were also highly skilled in other areas, particularly architecture and sculpture. This is not merely hearsay… it is a fact that is quite obvious through the intricate and painstakingly carved works of art that are positioned in various cities, some of them dating back thousands of years. Buddhism was the focal point of these structures, depicting the life and times of Lord Buddha thereby leaving future generations a wealth of knowledge in both religion and art.
Of all the grand pieces the island boasts, including the famed Ruwanwelisaya stupa in Anuradhapura, one in particular has stood out for its behemoth stature complemented by delicate craftsmanship: the Aukana statue. The structure is a vision to behold and a delight to study. Standing at 12m tall and 10 feet across at the shoulders, its creator is not known although research has revealed it belongs to the 5th century, dating back to the reign of one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent kings, King Datusena 459-477AD. The Aukana in Sri Lanka depicts the Buddha in his ashiva mudra pose which is his Blessing stance, with the robe slung over the left shoulder held up with his left hand and the right arm held up, palm facing left.
Many have tried to solve the mystery of its origins, and there has been wide speculation that it is the result of a student-teacher competition (the teacher won). It is also interesting to note, how though the statue is carved out from an expansive rock face and still attached to it, the lotus pedestal at the base is an entirely separate unit of its own. The addition completes the picture and pilgrims as well as visitors are able to place their offerings here.
During your stay at Ulagalla, you have the chance to experience the wonder that is Aukana.
- Time of departure: Best time to set off from Ulagalla is at 8:00 am as the sun will be quite strong in the afternoon. The afternoon tour will be at 3:30 pm.
- Tour duration – 3 hours
- Travel duration – 45 minutes
- Distance from the hotel – 34.8 km via Kandy – Jaffna Hwy and Thoniyagala – Kalawewa – Galewela Rd/B423.
- Tour inclusions – Picnic basket, water , juice, free Wi-Fi in the vehicle, guide and driver.
- What to bring / wear – Comfortable, cool clothes which are suitable for hiking and a temple visit such as long trousers and short-sleeved top, a sunhat, gym shoes or slippers and your camera.