To the North-West of the National Park of Udawalawe, an elephant’s paradise, are the statues of Buduruwagala, carved into a rock wall. Lying in the centre of thick vegetation, the more than thousand-year-old statues make an impressive ensemble which cannot leave visitors indifferent.
The sum of the reliefs is a striking example of the virtuosity of the Sinhalese stone carvers of the classical period. The most impressive of the statues is a 15m tall Lord Buddha, which gives the site its name: Budu, signifying in fact Buddha, ruwa, meaning representation, and gala, meaning the stone. The gigantic Buddha stands in the centre of the structure, draped in his robe still partially tinted with stucco. On his feet is a flame-shaped excavation, from which oozes an oily liquid of a mysterious origin. The traces of colours suggest that flamboyant shades covered the statues.
On each side of the Buddha are six other sculptures of uncertain identity. The characters on the left of Lord Buddha are representatives of Mahayana Buddhism, which was at that period in strong competition with Theravada Buddhism, the most classical and popular form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The figures on the right of Lord Buddha, seemingly unfinished, are those of the three Bodhisattvas (a Buddha who has not yet attained enlightenment), characteristic of a form of unknown Tantric Buddhism.
It is very satisfying to take your time in front of these majestic statues, looking closely to find the most beautiful light offered by the sun on the stone. The place is generally very calm and uncrowded, as it is protected by the forest.
It is entirely possible to walk from the main road on a path of 4 km along the lakes and forest. This is a great opportunity to combine your love for culture and nature in the course of the same day in the far end of Sri Lanka.