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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Historic Places to See in and Around Tissamaharama -Treasures from the past
Joanna James Joanna James
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Historic Places to See in and Around Tissamaharama -Treasures from the past

The coastal town of Tissamaharama located in the southern province of Sri Lanka was once an ancient capital, and therefore has many attractions in store for you.


Tissa Maha Dagoba (Tissa Great Stupa)

This is probably the most notable attraction of the town, and if you're staying at one of many Tissamaharama hotels such as the Kithala Resort you're bound to hear about this place. This massive temple was built during the 3rd century by King Kavantissa and is a sacred site for the locals. It is of notable significance for Buddhists since the temple reputedly contains two bone fragments of Lord Buddha himself. Prior to his death, the Lord Buddha personally visited the temple, along with five hundred of his closest arahants, which is a term used to describe monks who have reached enlightenment. If you ever venture to the south of Sri Lanka, this is an essential visit.


Tissa Wewa Reservoir

Towards the northern end of the town you will find the gorgeous lake referred to as 'Tissa Wewa'. You will also be more amazed to find that this lake is man-made and was constructed during the 2nd century BC. The ancient kingdom of Ruhunu that prospered in the south of Sri Lanka were known to be highly advanced and this massive reservoir was built to provide freshwater for the civilisation.


Yatala Dagoba

A short distance away from the town lies another Buddhist monument from an ancient world. This temple was built almost 2300 years ago, by King Yatalatissa and still exists in a preserved state today. The dagoba is bordered by a wall that is adorned with elephant heads and further bordered by a moat. Interestingly there is a massive monolith located outside the temple with noticeable marks on its face. It is believed that this monolith was used to tether royal elephants and the markings were caused by the chains that were used to bind the magnificent beasts.


Yala National Park

This is the most iconic and frequently visited national park on the island as well as one of the oldest, having been designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900. The animals most commonly seen here are elephants, leopards and aquatic birds. Additionally, Sloth Bears are also present within this park, but are a very rare sight. What is most notable is that the park also contains two pilgrimage sites since it has hosted more than one ancient civilisation. There is evidence to be found of a complex irrigation system that was once present within the park and according to the ancient legend of Ramayana, the demon King of Sri Lanka built his Kingdom in an area around the park that has now been submerged in the sea.


Sithulpawa Rajamaha Viharaya

Built in the 2nd century by King Kavantissa, this ancient monastery can be reached by travelling from Tissamaharama towards the Yala National Park. Despite being more than two thousand years old, the temple still functions as a centre for Buddhist education as well as a place of worship. It is definitely a place worthy of a visit since the walls are adorned with many ancient paintings depicting life during the time of the ancient civilisations.

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