Habessa Archaeological Site

Habessa Archaeological Site
Habessa Archaeological Site (Sinhala: හබැස්ස පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය) is a site with a ruined Buddhist monastery located on the right bank (south bank) of the Kumbukkan Oya, 6 km south-southeast of Okkampitiya village in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka.
The ruined monastery at the site is named Ulibikala-Naka-Maha Viharaya in a rock inscription in situ of the Uvaraja Naka, son of Utara Maharaja and grandson of Vahaba Maharaja [(King Vasabha: 67-111 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963].
Habessa rock inscription
This rock inscription is found engraved on one of the three caves at the southern extremity of the rock that contains a colossal recumbent Buddha image of brick and stucco. Comprising five lines of writing, the script and language of the inscription are Sinhala of the second century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1983). The purport of the record was to register the grant of an irrigation channel named Ulibikala and three tanks Mataviya, Abaviya and Gavidaviya to the great monastery of Ulibikala-Naka by the Uparaja Naka (Naga) who is said to have been a grandson of the great king Vahaba (Vasabha), and son of the great king Utara [(Uttara) Paranavitana, 1983].

The Maharaja named Uttara mentioned here is a son of King Vasabha and probably the same as Uttara-rajaputta mentioned in the Samantapasadika (Paranavitana, 1983).

The site
The site consists of the remains of a colossal reclining Buddha (Nirvana Buddha) in a rock shelter at the foot of a flat rock hill and a trace of a Stupa and several structures with stone pillars (Okamura, 2021). The rock shelter opens to the west-southwest direction and it has been converted into a Patimaghara (image house) by partitioning the central part with brick walls. The reclining Buddha inside the shelter is 10.5 m long and some fragments of paintings are found on the patches of plasters on the cave surface (Okamura, 2021).
1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.54.
2) Okamura, T., 2021. Ruins in and around Yala National Park Sri Lanka. NPO-SARERS;  South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society. pp.80-84.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Habassa rock Inscription of Uparaja Naga. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.84-85.

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This page was last updated on 25 May 2023

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