thiriyaya vihara
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Girihandu Seya Vihara, Thiriyaya, Tricomalee Sri Lanka


Girihandu Seya Vihara is the oldest Buddha stupa in Sri Lanka. At over 2600 years old perhaps the oldest Buddhist Vihara in the world. We visited this ancient monument in January 2011 in pouring rain during some of the worst flooding in Sri Lanka for decades, covering the last 1.5 kms in a tractor used to transport army soldiers. Indeed for decades this ancient vihara was inaccessible to Buddhist pilgrims, lying as it was in LTTE rebel controlled areas. The base for a time was a LTTE training camp. After clearance of the rebels, pilgrims again can visit this ancient monument freely. It is 30 kms North of Nilaveli Beach and 45 kms from Trincomalee, along a good tar road with good bridges across rivers except for the last 1.5 kms.


According to a C8th stone inscription found in the ruins, these two merchants who carried the hair relic with them on all foreign business trips arrived in Lanka on a business venture. They placed the hair relic on a rock and went to collect some water and some wood. On their return, they could not lift the container, which had the hair relic. Realizing that the spot was a blessed place, they decided, in accordance with the tradition, to build a Dagaba enshrining the relic. This was how Girihaduseya Dagaba was built in Thiriyaya in Sri Lanka, enshrining this hair relic given to the two merchants. This is another example of the diversity of the merchants who visited Lanka for business purposes.

Another stone inscription belonging to the second century BC proved that this was a monastery as far back as 150 BC. Like all other Buddhist shrines, this place was also destroyed several times by the invaders and the traitors in Lanka.

In 407AD, Buddhaghosa, the greatest Buddhist commentator, recorded the beauty of the Girihaduseya Dagaba in the Thiriyaya Buddhist Temple. He said that just looking at the Dagaba was enough to feel peace and tranquility. He said Thiriyaya was a large Buddhist temple.

-s The Picture Gallery
trincomalee road
thiriyaya war remainings
The road to Thiriyaya passing along what would be beautiful beach stretches in normal weather Houses damaged during earlier fighting when the area was under the control of rebels Old Dutch period church on route
thiriyaya vihara entrence
temple staircase
tricomalee tourists
Entrance to Girihandu Seya is through a long stairway of over 300 steps Climb up the long flight of steps  
stone staircase
Ancient dagaba
Ancient girihadu seya ruins
Near the top Near the top,  Pagoda Entrance to the ancient stupa
top view from thiriyaya
historic dagaba
Moonstone entrance Pillars at the top  
another view of thiriyaya
tricomalee thiriyaya
    Vatadage pillar surround
trincomalee sri lanka
founded buddha statue
road to thiriyaya
Road condition during the recent floods. Without the tractor we would never have made the last 1.50 kms which we covered in pouring rain. Modern bridge built after the area was cleared. See picture of old road below right Ancient staircase, over 2500 years old
trinco attractions
    The old road across the lagoon beside the modern bridge
trinco attractions
Ancient stone bridge    
Stuck! Road condition during the floods of January 2011    
End of Gallery....


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