Ancient mysteries - Part II
THE MALIGAWILA BUDDHA STATUE
A few miles off Monaragala lies the village of Maligawila. At least it was a "village" when I visited the place over forty years ago. I have no idea what it looks like today. In 1930 a sensational discovery of a colossal Buddha statue was made in thick elephant infested jungle. The statue was badly damaged but ancient records confirm that King Aggabodhi 1st commissioned the carving of this statue in 600 AD. There is a twofold mystery here. The ancient sculptors first cut and extracted a massive chunk of rock in one whole block from a quarry located a mile away. This entire project required superhuman strength. Apart from extracting the massive chunk, it had to be hauled to Maligawila where it was erected into position. Once this was done, sculpturing began. Restoration work on this statue by the Department of Archaeology commenced in 1965 - One thousand, three hundred and sixty five years after it was commissioned by King Aggabodhi 1st. I recall an official of the Archaeological Department telling me that they could not understand how this massive chunk of rock was transported through thick jungle. What mysterious transport system was used ? The slightest mishap en route would result in the cracking or even total destruction of the rock en route. It is apparent they were more than equal to the task. I heard that today, fully restored, the Maligawila Buddha stands resplendent in lush countryside in all its glory. I have seen ancient Buddha statues in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and China. The statues in Sri Lanka are easily among the best and are a tribute to those sculptors of an age long past, now shrouded in the mists of time.
Written by : Bernard VanCuylenberg