Overview of Mahiyanganaya
Located in proximity to the gushing streams of the famous Mahaweli River, Mahiyanganaya is a town located in the misty hills of the Badulla district. Whilst appearing to be a deceptively quiet little town, it boasts of a rich cultural and historical heritage, hailing back centuries into Sri Lanka’s past. The area is perfect for a quick stop for some sightseeing, particularly if you’re interested in indulging yourself in the religious allure of the country and region.
Most of the town’s religious appeal comes from the alleged visit of Gautama Buddha to Mahiyanganaya, on the poya (full moon day) in January many centuries ago, to resolve a conflict between two ethnic tribes, the Yakkas and Nagas. This was believed to be the Buddha’s first visit to Sri lanka, where he subsequently preached the Dhamma to a leader in the area, as well as donated a fistful of his hair for his followers to worship. A golden chethiya was built to host these strands of hair, and as such this area is very sacred to the Buddhist community residing in the country.
For more on this, it is crucial that you visit the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara, believed to be the site of Gautama Buddha’s first visit, considered to be one of the Solosmasthana, the 16 sacred places of worship in Sri Lanka. Declared an archaeological site in Sri Lanka, the temple is a must visit for anyone interested in knowing more about the Buddhist culture of Sri Lankans. You can also visit the ruins of an ancient temple complex called the Nagadeepa Viharaya, popular among the residents in the area for its supposed mystical powers. The complex adjoins the Nagadeepa Reservoir, and draws its name from the Naga (cobra) tribe that inhabited the land in ancient times.
Mahiyanganaya is also known for the relative flatness of its land, which can be seen if one is to travel to Padiyathalawa on the road from Kandy, across an area known as Hunnasgiriya and the well-known 18 hairpin bends. This breathtaking experience is sure to leave you gripping your seat, and is an adrenaline rush all the way down the bends on the road. If you’re looking for something a little more tranquil, make sure you drive past the Mapakada Lake. A picturesque site for a quick photoshoot or sky-gazing to catch sight of some residential avifauna, the area is a relaxing spot to catch some of nature’s unrestrained glory, with its surrounding mountainsides and greenery.
Mahiyanganaya is also situated close to the Dambana area, a jungle village, populated by the historic Vedda community. Here you can immerse yourselves into the life and customs of a Vedda (for a day!), and observe their day to day activities and participate in some of them, upon approval of the Chief of the tribe.
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