Situated 35 km southwest of Anuradhaupura and 41 km north of Yapahuwa, the archaeological site of Hatthikuchchi (fromerly named Rayangana after the nearby village) is one of the most scenic complexes of ruins from the mid Anuradhapura period. Early Brahmin inscriptions indicate, that the natural rock shelters in Hatthikuchchi had been inhabited by monks since the earliest times of Buddhism in ther island. Rivalling Atthanagala in Kegala District, Hatthikuchchi is now believed to be the location of the most famous royal self-sacrifice of Sri Lanka, namely the self-decapitation of King Sirisangabo who offered his own head to a peasant to help him receive a ransom offered by the usurper Gothabhaya. Although King Sirisangabo ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom for only two years in the 3rd century AD and didn’t built any significant monuments nor fought any heroic battles, he is one of the most beloved kings among Sinhalese, because he represents the virtues of the Buddhist king, in a way corresponding to Jataka tales from the Buddhist Holy Scriptures, the Tipitaka.
Today’s visitors often fall in love with the small heritage site of Hatthikuchchi, as the ruins are picturesquely situated in between groups of rocks. Various kinds of ancient structures can be studied in Hatthikuchchi such as bathing pond, chapter house, image houses, rock shelters fomerly serving as monks‘ cells, Ayurvedic hospital, a rare example of a rectangular Chetiyagara (stupa house), a Bodhigara, and meditation platforms of forest monks. A quite spectacular site at the edge of the archaeological site is a logan standing upright.
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Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka