August 2018


From Arthur's Seat to Bahirawakanda
August 2018




A breathtaking view of Kandy captured from Arthur's Seat

Immerse in the sheer beauty of Kandy as witnessed from the Arthur's Seat, the famous viewpoint in the city. Discover the immaculate statue of the Buddha that rises in the distance almost as a beacon amidst the hills.


Words: Darrshini Parthepan
Photography: Menaka Aravinda and Vishwathan Tharmakulasigham


Kandy unfolded before our eyes with traces of mist lacing the atmosphere. Located on Rajapihilla Mawatha, it is believed that the name, Arthur's Seat was derived from the name of a British tea planter, who had enjoyed views of the city from this point. From Arthur's Seat, we observed the Kandy Lake standing still with occasional soft ripples created by the cool wind. Emerald mountain ranges loomed in the distance, crowned by cloudy skies. The Sri Dalada Maligawa appeared in distinctive form. The Kandy town was abuzz with activity. Amidst it all, a pristine white statue of the Buddha atop the Bahirawakanda mountain provided its protection over the hill capital.


Intrigued, we bid goodbye to the mesmerising panorama before us with the intent on discovering the quaint statue of the Buddha. Soothed by the serenity of the terrain and cool breeze, we began our climb to the summit of Bahirawakanda. Here, camouflaged beneath the lush greenery is the Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya, from where the statue of the Buddha rises to the skies. It is located approximately two kilometres from the Kandy town.


The mountain itself lays claim to a fascinating history, which traces its roots back to the Kandyan era, the last kingdom of Sri Lanka. The mount's name, "Bahirawakanda" meaning the "mountain of the gnome", relates to its most recounted story. According to folklore, for many years, villagers lived in fear of a Bahiravaya or evil gnome believed to reside in the mountain. Today, these are wonderful stories told to enrapture the listener.

While the Viharaya was built in 1972, the large statue of Buddha seen throughout Kandy was unveiled in 1993. The gigantic 88-foot tall statue, one of the tallest in Sri Lanka, portrays the Buddha in the Samadhi (meditating) posture.


Upon entering the temple grounds, the ornate Ata Visi Buddha Mandiraya comes into sight, which pays homage to the 28 Buddhas who have existed according to the Buddhavansa. Tranquility pervades the air as the Bodhiya holds a special place of reverence - it is a sapling of the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. Encircled by a gleaming ran weta (golden fence), the atmosphere around the Bo Tree forms a spiritual melody that calms the minds.


While the Viharaya was built in 1972, the large statue of Buddha seen throughout Kandy was unveiled in 1993. The gigantic 88-foot tall statue, one of the tallest in Sri Lanka, portrays the Buddha in the Samadhi (meditating) posture. Sculpted beautifully, the statue reflects the skill and dexterity of the sculptor - Albert Wijedasa. According to Ven Yatawatte Dhammananda Thero, Chief Incumbent of Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya, the statue was completed with homage to the features of the Buddha due to the unwavering dedication of late Ammapitiye Dhammarama Thero, the then Chief Incumbent of the Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya.


A spiral stairway extends behind the statue leading to viewing decks at different levels, providing stunning and unique sights of the mist-cloaked mountains and hill capital. While climbing the third flight of stairs, one comes across a decorative Budu Medura (Image House), within which the air is perfumed with the fragrance of incense. There are two ornately carved Buddha statues painted in gold inside the Image House. The murals depict various scenes from Buddha's life, while the ceiling is adorned with vibrant flower motifs. The paintings show distinctive influence from the arts of the Kandyan Era.


Once we reached the topmost deck, we gasped at the wonderful panorama before us, a breathtaking 360-degree view that captured the resplendent beauty of Kandy and far beyond. The pinnacles of many historic edifices as well as modern structures beamed beneath silhouettes of mountains. We had truly witnessed the awe-inspiring wonder of the heritage city from different angles and we were touched by the charm of the landscape.


Kandy is a township blessed with verdant natural beauty and serenity. Immerse in this splendour at Arthur's Seat and Bahirawakanda.

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    Arthur's Seat offers splendid views of the city

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    The Bahirawakanda Buddha statue

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    A statue of Buddha at the Ata Visi Buddha Mandiraya

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    The ornate Budu Medura (Image House)

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    The sacred Bodhi on the upper terrace

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    A bird's eye view of Kandy and beyond from Bahirawakanda

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    The pristine statue of Buddha looking over the hill capital

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