Believed to be one of the sixty four temples built by King Kawanthissa, Senanigala shot to fame when his son, great King Dutugamunu, chose the rock monastery to gather his forces against King Elara, a Tamil king who usurped the throne of Anuradhapura.
Identified to be one of the two ‘panchavasa’ temples remaining in the country Senanigala holds a stupa, a shrine room, a bodhigara or house around the Bodhi tree, a gathering hall and a preaching hall essential to qualify as a ‘panchavasa’ temple.
Scattered around the main temple on the rocky plateau are a compound laid with stone slabs anda ninety five feet long drip-ledged cave, which housed the meditating monks of the eras gone by. Among the broken statues are a five feet tall Buddha image and a six feet statue believed to be of King Datugemunu. A moonstone adorned only with figures of elephants, stairway stones and stone pillars of intricate beauty adores the entrance to the shrine room. The stairway stone or Korawakgal are over five feet tall and are believed to be the tallest found in the country while the shrine room has a two entrance structure unique to Senanigala. A bodhigara or a stone housing built around the Bo tree found near the pond lay in ruins although the stone slabs laid around the Bo tree still remain intact. But the stupa had been completely vandalised by treasure hunters its body carved out and its top taken apart and thrown away.
Nothing but a road paved with stones wide enough for two horse chariots to pass abreast still remain at the foot of the mountain as witness to the bustling army organisation that was present in and around Senanigala nearly 2100 years ago.
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