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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Things to Know About the Mahaweli Maha Seya – A Treasure of Kotmale
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Things to Know About the Mahaweli Maha Seya – A Treasure of Kotmale

One of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli Maha Seya, sits within the sleepy town of Kotmale. It is a treasured pilgrimage site and listed below are some of its best features.


A Landmark Attraction

The Mahaweli Maha Seya is the area's most iconic attraction; it is a gigantic structure which sits on the edge of a cliff which looks over the beautiful Kotmale Reservoir; renamed as the Gamini Dissanayake Reservoir. The stupa, which is built in the traditional bubble shape stands at a stately height of 174 feet and is the second tallest stupa in the country. If you are staying at Mas Villa by FOX Resorts, then checking out the shrine is a breeze, since it is a mere 35 minutes away.


Iconic Shrine Built as a Commemoration

The Mahaweli Maha Seya was built to commemorate the over 20 temples which were submerged when Sri Lanka's second largest hydroelectricity dam was set up. Overlooking the beautiful Kotmale Valley, a stupa of this magnitude was built on the island after a lapse of 2,350 years. It is one of the most popular sites to visit, as part of places to see in Nuwara Eliya and its namesake district. The temple's construction commenced in 1983, under the auspices of Late Minister Gamini Dissanayake and Late President J.R. Jayawardena. Construction was halted in 1991, and reinitiated by 2003, with much pomp and pageantry, and the attendance of over 1,500 devotees and 200 Buddhist monks.


The Legend of Kotmale and Prince Gamini

Prince Gamini at the time of living in exile chose to hide in the village of Kanda Uda Kotte, Urupelessa; which is in Kotmale. This village today is known as Kotagepitiya, and one kilometre from here is the Mahaweli Maha Seya, easy to reach from hotels in Nuwara Eliya. Hiding within the Headman's house, Prince Gamini fell in love with his daughter; and later on, after the death of his father, King Kavantissa, the royal elephant Kadol Etha, is believed to have found the prince and knelt before him. Therefore, visiting the Kotmale Valley will be quite an epic journey for culture buffs, who will love discovering the history and folklore hidden within the misty folds of the valley.


The Kotmale Reservoir

With the construction of the huge Kotmale Reservoir, a large number of buildings went under water; amongst these were 16 grama sevaka divisions, 4 tea estates, 66 villages, 2 devalayas and 18 temples. The temple stands as a memorial to these shrines which now sit below the waters surrounding the dam.


Design of the Temple

The structure of the Mahaweli Maha Seya was articulated by Vidya Jothi Dr A. N. S. Kulasinghe, a prominent engineer. Well worth a visit, the temple provides a bird's eye view of the entire valley spread below. Ideal for a day's drive of discovery, the area offers one a salubrious and relaxing climate to enjoy as well.