Tracing the Tooth Relic at Lanka Patuna Sri Lanka

The CeyCat 53 has arrived at the coastline of Lanka Patuna, south of Trincomalee.

It took us almost six hours of sailing having seen the amazing whale shark and thousands of dolphins along the way. It is time to take a short ride in the dinghy and disembark on the sea shore because I have been told the temple here is worth visiting.

The beach is relatively deserted except for some fisherfolk mending their nets, and some curious village children, peering at us from their perch atop an upturned boat.

A short walk inland from the beach, we come to the Lanka Patuna Raja Maha Viharaya, a temple steeped in history and reverence. This too, is deserted.

I climb up an ancient stone stairway and reach the top of the plateau overlooking the sea on one side and the estuary on the other.

I also spot our catamaran bobbing patiently in the distance!

Dating back to King Kirthi Sri Meghawanna’s reign (304-332 CE) in Anuradhapura, this temple is considered to be one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. According to the legend, when his kingdom was being attacked, King Guhasiva of Kalinga sent Buddha’s tooth relic to Thambapanni (Sri Lanka) through his daughter, Princess Hemamala and son-in-law, Prince Danta. The royal couple, disguised as Brahmins, traveled in secret with the relic hidden in her hair. Having set sail from Tamralipti, a port at the mouth of the river Ganges, they landed at the port of Lankapattana. The couple watched over the sacred relic overnight here before taking it onward to King Kirthi Sri Meghawanna at Anuradhapura.

The tall, gold plated  Buddha statue stands over the rock. The original pond remains shaded under the sprawling ‘Bo” tree.

The images of Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala are etched into the rock face, although I wonder if these were the original carvings.

Just above this is the Chaitya offering a panoramic view of the beaches below.

On our way down, we encounter a young monk in charge of this temple. He asks us for money saying that this temple is now neglected and he does not even have the means to feed himself. This, I am later told, is untrue. He also makes a racial comment which I find to be highly inappropriate. And then we come across him on a motorbike, tugging at a young girls hair and bullying her.

All this leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I am glad to get out of here and get back on the boat.

But, I have checked another location off my bucket list!


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