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Lost in the Dunes of Time

Lost in the Dunes of Time

By Juliet Coombe

Kottukal Beach House by Jetwing in Pottuvil is a stunning place to base yourself to enjoy not only the legendary surf, but also the magnificent ruins of the Muhudu Maha Vihare, which are hidden inside the magnificent rolling dunes. Here you will discover a fascinating historic Buddhist religious temple complex 3.5 km beyond Pottuvil, on the A4 Road where goats scamper, surfers surf at dawn and finally the houses are replaced by yellow sand dunes, which appear like giant rocks scattered along the coastline.

These dunes today are seen as key to protecting the land from progressive sea encroachment and hold a great deal of Buddhist history and many other secrets just waiting to be dug up. It is here that King Kavantissa sacrificed his only daughter Vihara Maha Devi to the sea to avert a catastrophe in the area and it is said that a boat was buried in the temple grounds. The king’s daughter was later washed ashore near the East coast, where Muhudu Maha Vihare stands today. Other stories say she went to Kirinda and where ever she went the importance of these ruins remained.

The marriage temple with men on elephants moonstone
The marriage temple with men on elephants moonstone

Resident temple’s Buddhist monk Udlamatta Ratnapriya is happy to tell you about this historical site in the shade of the trees near where the pilgrims hang lucky wishes and make prayers daily. Some say this series of temple columns is near where the Queen bathed in sandalwood and this is where she also kept her royal jewellery. The monk feels this is just one of the reasons why so many pilgrims leave a special message hoping it will be granted as the place has a magical feel about it.

To its west are the remains of a pillared structure where the torso of a Buddha statue was found and later restored by the Department of Archaeology. This sacred spot is lit at night and would make a wonderful evening trip when it’s cooler underfoot from the burning sand. Kottukal Beach House by Jetwing will organise this and many other amazing local experiences.

3.step into a more spiritual world via the hughly stylise elephant steps
3.step into a more spiritual world via the hughly stylise elephant steps