Gonawatta Ancient Caves

Gonawatta Ancient Caves  (Sinhala: ගෝණවත්ත පුරාණ ලෙන්) are located on the hills near Gurudeniya in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.


As is evidenced by the Early Brahmi Inscription engraved just below the drip ledge of the caves, this site has been used as an abode of Buddhist monks since the pre-Christian era. Therefore, Gonawatta is believed to have been a centre of Buddhist activities in the Malayarata during the early Anuradhapura Period (Seneviratna, 1983).

Gonawatta Cave Inscriptions

Period: 3rd Century B.C.-1st century A.D.                      Script: Early Brahmi                      Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: [Ma]cudika-rajhasha pute rajha-Abaye shajha-Abayasha pute rajha-Naga rajha-Nagasha pute rajha-Abaye rajha-Abhayasha puta-Gamani-Tishena karapite Mahashudashane agata-anagata catu-disha shagasha paditite
Content: The inscription mentions that the son of King Mahaculika was King Abhaya; the son of King Abhaya was King Naga; the son of King Naga was King Abhaya. The cave Mahasudassana caused to be fashioned by Gamini Tissa, the son of [that] King Abhaya, has been established for the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.62.


1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.62.
2) Seneviratna, A, 1983. Kandy: An Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments, with Historical, Archaeological, and Literary Descriptions Including Maps of the City and Its Suburbs. Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural Affairs. p.144.

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This page was last updated on 1 January 2024

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