For most Sri Lanka travellers Tissamaharama is the perfect starting point for safaris in the surrounding national parks of Yala and Bundala and Lunugamvehera, some also enjoy birdwatching in the close-by Wirawila sanctionary. But Tissa - as its name is commonly shortened - is also an attraction in itself. Tissamaharama is the ancient Mahagama, which was the capital of the southern principality known as Rohana in the Pali chronicles. It was the hometown of the Sinhalese national hero Dutugemunu (Dutthagamani in Pali). Due to its historical significance, Tissamaharama alias Mahagama is sometimes called the "Anuradhapura of the south". Four major dagobas survive from the early centuries of Buddhism on the island. The best restored one - from a scientifical point of view - is called Sandagiri Dagoba. A small archaeological museum is attached to it. Two other dagobas are much larger, actually the largest of the entire Southern Province of Sri Lanka. However, the Tissa and Yattala stupas are restored as white domes in a more modern style.
The photos shown above are taken in the complex of the Sandagiri Dagoba (stupa) of the ancient city of Mahagama, now known as Tissamaharama alias Tissa. This is only one of 4 archaeological sites in Tissa. To learn more about the history of Tissa and its places of interest for heritage round tours, please click here...
The Meetiyagoda moonstone mine is situated in the hinterland of Sri Lanka's southwestern beach resorts Hikkaduwa and Ambalangoda. A visit is also easily managable as a half-day excursion from other coastal towns between Galle in the south and Bentota or Beruwela in the north. Actually, trips to Meetiyagoda, also combined with otherr nearby destinations such as Madhu Ganga wetlands are quite popular with holiday makers who spend some days or weeks in beach resorts of this region.
Guided tours in Meetiyagoda include a short walk to the shaft of the mine, where you can also study the filtering process, and then to the workshop and showrooms. You can study the filtering. The promotion slogan "the world's only moonstone mine" is a little bit misleading. Moonstones are found on all continents. The classic finding place in ancient Europe was the area of St. Gotthard in Switzerland. Today, Europe's richest moonstone mines are in Poland and Scandinavia. Most moonstones are from Mynamar and India. But Sri Lanka's moonstone - mostly from Meetiyagoda - have a reputation of being among the finest, although the quality of the finds has been decreasing for several years. Myanmar's and Sri Lanka's moonstones are those of the highest value due to their uniquely intense blue sheen. But the blue-shining moonstones have become even rarer in Myanmar than in Sri Lanka in recent decades. This is why claiming to be the world's only moonstone mine has some justification, as Meetiyagoda is the only remaining mine for moonstones with the highly attractive blue sheen.
a less-kown large excavation site in the Deep South of Sri Lanka - not far from Tangalle
Though it is situated at the A18 main road, which is connecting the southern beach resorts such as Tangalle and Kirinda with the "elephant national park" Udawalawe and the "gem city" Ratnapura, the Rambha Viharaya (also transcribed "Ramba Vihara") is rarely visited by foreign travellers. To be honest, this archaeological site is not as amazing as the nearby rock and cave temple of Mulgirigala. And Situlpawwa in the Yala area might earn the fame of being a more fascinating ancient site, just due to its environmental settings. However the Rambha Viharaya is one of the largest excavated temple complexes in the southern plains of Sri Lanka, although not many Sri Lankans and foreign guests seem to be aware of this fact. What is now called the Rambha Viharaya once served as the main monastery of an ancient city named Mahanagakula, which was an important trading center in antiquity and became the capital of Sri Lanka's Deep South during the Polonnaruwa period. Even the nation's famous Tooth Relic is said to have been kept here for a while during the period of Indian Chola hegemony over the northern half of the island. The reputation of the "banana monastery" - which actually the literal meaning of "Rambha Viharaya" - remained to be far-reaching after the Polonnaruwa period, when even monks from Myanmar's world-famous temple-town Bagan sought advice from the monks residing here in southern Sri Lanka.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,