The rare visitor of the Rambha Viharaya will be welcomed by the staff of the Archaeological Department running a small but interesting museum in the northern part of the archaeological zone. The heritage site of the Rambha Viharaya is dotted with remnants of image houses and monks' abodes and even an Anuradhapura-period Bo-temple. What's appealing is that this ancient sanctuary has been revived as a monastery, earning niw a reputation as an educational centre. So monks and novices can still be met at this heritage site. Actually, the excavation area, situated just behind the modern monastic buildings, is surprisingly large and among the historically most significant archaeological zones of southern Sri Lanka. Due to its undisturbed location in the jungles at the shores of the Walawe river, some parts of the Rambha Viharaya compound turn out to be pretty charming places. In short: This heritage destination is easy to reach and can nevertheless considered to be off the beaten path.
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,