With its name derived from the word ‘Chiththala Pabbata’ – meaning the hill of the quiet mind, Sithulpauwa is located within the Yala National Park, in the Hambantota district in the deep south of Sri Lanka.
Set in a stunning setting, there are two temples perched high atop hard volcanic rock outcrops; Maha Sithulpauwa rock is 400 feet in height and the dagoba situated on top of the rock is reached via a steep climb, aided by steps cut into the rock. The dagoba is believed to have been built in the 2nd century B.C by king Kavantissa.
In addition to the main dagoba, a number of small dagobas can be found within the temple premises. It also houses an intricate cave complex, which have been built to make it suitable for the monks to live in. The ancient monastery with a history over 2000 years, was a place of worship for devotees as well as a center of Buddhist scholarship and it is believed that this temple once housed a total of 12,000 Arhats (monks who have completed the path to enlightenment).
The intricate temple complex at Sithulpawwa encompasses a number of gal len (rock caves), dagoba (pagodas), Poya geval (chapter houses), bodhigara (Bo-tree house), pilima geval (image houses) and pokunu (ponds). The temple is famous for its early Brahmi script, ruins of the preaching house and the fragments of paintings that can be viewed at the image house. The main cave temple walls consist of paintings belonging to Anuradhapura period and this is a significant feature as not many paintings belonging to this period have been found.
Photo credits: Chamara Amarasinghe
Text reference: http://buddhistplacesinsrilanka.weebly.com/sithulpawwa-viharaya.html