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Jan 08 2016

Dowa Rock Temple

I hadn’t heard of Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya (Dowa Rock Temple).  It was the tuk tuk driver who took me to see Rawana Falls in the morning that mentioned it.  Once he had said there was an ancient temple that was built into the rock, I just had to see it.  It was a bit of way from Ella, where I was staying, but worth the journey for me.

Dowa Rock Temple

I’m glad I went because it was interesting to see the temple and the half-finished Buddha, both of which are carved into rock.


The temple was originally built for King Walagamba in the 1st century BC.  Did the king carve the Buddha statue himself?  Who knows!  Legend suggests he started it, but it turned out to be too big a project for him, so he left it unfinished.  That is how it remains to this day, unfinished.  Apparently, it wasn’t until the Kandyan era (the late 15th century to the 19th century) that the rock temple you see today was constructed, complete with brightly painted murals of Lord Buddha’s life.


When I got to the temple, I was told to climb up the rock, to the left of the temple, first.  This is where you get a great view of that ancient half-finished statue of Buddha.  There is a rail you can hold on to, on the right, if you find it a bit tricky getting up or down.  After that, you can visit the temple.  You just have to leave a donation, and then you are free to wander around and take photos.  The guy at the desk is really nice and extremely knowledgeable.


Due to popular demand from people who have contacted me about the massive, ancient Buddha carving, here’s what it looks like.  I took this photo after I had climbed up the small rock at the side of the temple.

The Unfinished Buddha Carving at Dowa Temple, Sri Lanka


The temple is located on the road from Bandarawela to Ella.  I will have passed it on the bus without realising when I went to Ella.  If you don’t have your own transport, you could take the local bus and get off at the temple.  The alternative is to hitch a lift, or do what I did and take a tuk tuk, which is the easiest but most expensive option.

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