Ata Seta Len (Mihintale)

Ata Seta Len

Ata Seta Len (lit: Sixty-eight caves, Sinhala: මිහින්තලය අටසැටලෙන්) is a cave complex located in the ancient Buddhist monastery Mihintale in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.


The chronicle Mahavamsa states that King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.) prepared 68 caves as dwellings for Bhikkhus headed by Arhat Mahinda Thera (Seneviratna, 1994). The Early Brahmi Inscriptions engraved below the drip ledges of these caves confirm that they had been prepared for the use of the Buddhist monks during the pre-Christian era (Paranavitana, 1970).

According to Mahavamsa (Mahavamsa, Chap: XXXV, vv: 9-12), King Kanirajanutissa (31-34 A.D.) imprisoned sixty monks who were engaged in a conspiracy against him and finally he commanded these monks to be flung into the caves called Kanira (Geiger, 1986; Wickremasinghe, 1912). It is believed that the mountain which forms the Ataseta Len complex could be that place mentioned in the Mahawamsa.


1) Geiger, W., 1986. The Mahāvaṃsa, or, The Great Chronicle of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services, New Delhi. p.247.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.1-5.
3) Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura: the monastic city. Archaeological Survey Department. p.236.
4) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.75-113.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2024
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