Maligawila is remote village in the Moneragala District, about 15 km east of Buttala.
A massive Buddha statue broken into pieces was discovered near Maligawila in the middle of the 20th century. In 1974, a first attempt to raise this statue failed. But in 1980 a local engineering team managed to restore this impressive statue to its ancient glory.
The Maligawila Buddha Statue is monolithic, carved out of a limestone block. With a height of 14.5 metres high it is said to be the tallest ancient free standing Buddha statue in South Asia. It bears some resemblance to the Aukana statue in the Cultural Triangle, depicting the same uncommon Asisa Mudra, a variation of the Abhaya mudra. Both standing Buddhas clutch their robes at the left shoulder, while the right hand is raised.
Maybe a passage of the ancient Mahavamsa chronicle refers to this statue. In this case it was carved and erected in the 7th century by a prince from Ruhuna, who was called by the quite common royal name Aggabodhi. There is additionally a 10th-century historical pillar mentioning the 10th year of the rule of the late Anuradhapura King Mahinda IV (956-972 AD).
Originally, this sculpture was sheltered inside a huge Pilimage (image house) of about approx 20 metres length and width, with 1.2 meter thick brick walls supporting the roof. This would have been as high as 20 metres in order to surmount the statue.
In about 500 metres distance from the Maligawila Buddha Statue is another giant statue carved from a single rock. This is definitely a Mahayana Buddhist sculpture, most probably depicting a Bodhisattva, but it’s not quite sure if this image represents Maithreya (Mettheya) or Avalokitheswara. This scond image is called Dambegoda statue. It is almost 10 metres in height and about 40 tons in weight. It is places on the top of a kind of step pyramid.
The Dambegoda Bodhisattva Statue was discovered fallen from its pedestal, too. Additionally, the Dambegoda Statue was broken by treasure hunters, with dynamite. The wonderful statue was restored by the Department of Archeology in 1990.
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