Location of Tissamaharama
Tissamaharama is located 270km south of Colombo.
Tissamaharama can be reached by A2 southern main road travelling via Galle and Hambantota.
Though Tissamaharama is visited mainly in view of it being the gateway to Yala National Park, Tissa as it is affectionately called, in its own right, is a major cultural and nature attraction. Three ancient stupas and two ancient irrigation reservoirs make Tisssamaharama worth touring. On the northern side, the town is bounded by lovely expanse of paddy fields. In the middle of the paddy fields is Santagiri or Sandagiri dagaba, the largest stupa at Tissamaharama.
History of Tissamaharama
Tissamaharama known by the name of Mahagama in the ancient times was founded by Prince Mahanaga, brother of King Devanampiyatissa in the third century BC. The settlement rose to prominence during the reign of King Kavantissa, father of King Dutugamunu. It was during this period that Tissmaharama’s three stupas and the two ancient irrigation reservoirs were built. According to the chronicles, around 12,000 Arahats Buddhist monks had lived in Tissamaharama and its surroundings during the era of King Kavantissa.
During the era in which the monasteries flourished in the ancient Rajarata of north central plains, many a similar monasteries and dagaba were built in Magama, the capital of the southern region of Sri Lanka.
Tissa weva Reserervoir in Tissamaharama
Just a kilometer north of the Tissmaharama town spreads the vast ancient irrigation reservoir called Tissa wewa. The shore of the lake nearest to the town of Tissamaharama is regularly crowded with the villagers and the tourists. The massive embankment that bounds the southern shore of the reservoir is line by trees. To the east of the far end of Tissa weva reservoir is another man-made irrigation reservoir called Debera Weva. Both reservoirs are havens for bird life.
Santagiri or Sandagiri dagaba in Tissamaharama
Sandagiri stupa was built by the regional ruler Prince Mahanaga in the third century B.C. Sandagiri stupa is 55m in height and 165m in circumference. According to the chronicles, around 12,000 Arahats have lived in the Tissa area during the life and times of King Kavantissa who, deposited the forehead relic of the Buddha in Sandagiri stupa.
Historical chronicles narrates that some of the various relics and gifts sent by Emperor Asoka to King Devanmpiyatissa (250-210 BC) of Sri Lanka were enshrined in the Sandagiri Stupa of Ruhuna. However, the first provincial ruler to have begun the construction of sacred places of Buddhist worship in Ruhuna was Mahanaga. Historical chronicles narrate that Buddha, in his third visit to Sri Lanka arrived at Tissamaharama and hence the ancient settlement is considered sixteen sacred locations of the island.
Yatala dagoba in Tissamaharama
A short stroll along the road from the southwest corner of Tissa weva is Yatala dagoba and further down about half a kilometer is Menik dagoba. The small cluster of pillars located in the midway are the ruins of an ancient monastery called Galkanunmandiya. Yatala Dagoba that has been identified as Mani Chethiya and Yattalaya in various historical documents was built by Prince Mahanaga in the 3rd century BC.
Picture gallery of Tissamaharama