Girihandu Seya is an ancient Buddhist temple found in Trincomalee. It is said to contain the oldest stupa found in Sri Lanka as well as the sacred hair relics of the Buddha. For these reasons, Girihandu Seya is one of the most revered shrines on the island and attracts hundreds of religious devotees every year. The oldest known event associated with this place is recorded in an 8th century Sanskrit inscription, which states that a shrine called Girikandicaitya was established on the top of the hill by the merchants Tapassu and Bhallika.
Located about 29 miles north of Trincomalee, in past, it was once not an easy journey to the Tiriyaya Girihandu Seya through dusty roads, enemy villages, forests, and ferries. After defeating the LTTE terrorists, the area has seen a major development, especially in the road network, and now Tiriyaya has also become a common destination. The ruins of the present structure or vatadage consist of a small stupa surrounded by two concentric circles and stone pillars, which are believed to have evolved over time. A detailed description of the entire stupahara architecture, including the Vatadage of Sri Lanka, can be found here.[envira-gallery id=”7905″]
Professor Paranavitana says that the Vatadage of Thiriyaya is in the general pattern but was not found in any other place of worship due to its architectural features. The capitals of the towers are not carved separately. The gates of the cardinals are faced with carved granite slabs. The four entrances at the cardinal points are provided with moonstones, Makara balustrades, and naga guard stones. The moonstone is simple except for carving round lotus petals. The guard stones are one of the most prominent artistic features. According to scholars, these qualities and their elongated limbs suggest the Pallava art of an earlier period than Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. A pilgrimage to Thiriya Vatadage is as powerful an experience for a Buddhist as it is for you, as a naturalist, architect, and archaeologist.