Tissamaharama is a town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. It is located 270km south of Colombo. Tissamaharama is one of the most pleasant towns in the southern coast. The beautiful man-made tank (reservoir) in Tissamaharamaya area, Tissa Wewa with its remarkable bird life provides the scenic backdrop to the town. In Tissamaharama, eyes are automatically drawn upwards and outwards. Upwards to the tip of it’s huge, snowy-white dagoba and outwards, beyond the town’s confines, to nearby wildlife reserves crawling with creatures large and small. With the beauty of Tissamaharamaya pretty lakeside location, Tissa is an ideal mellow base for the nearby Yala and Bundala National Parks.
When considering about the history in Tissamaharamaya, it also is known by the name of Mahagama in the ancient times was founded by Prince Mahanaga, brother of King Devanampiyatissa in the third century BC. The settlement rose to prominence during the reign of King Kavantissa, father of King Dutugamunu. It was during this period that Tissamaharama’s three stupas and the two ancient irrigation reservoirs were built. According to the chronicles, around 12,000 Arahats (Buddhist monks) had lived in Tissamaharama and its surroundings during the era of King Kavantissa. During the era in which the monasteries flourished in the ancient Rajarata of the north central plains, many similar monasteries and dagobas were built in Mahagama, the capital of the southern region of Sri Lanka.
The present situation in Tissamaharamaya is a bustling city with the main street lined with banks, shops & little cafes and kiosks. The refreshing breeze from the large reservoir sweeps the town. People lifestyle in Tissamaharamaya is so simple and most of them are farmers. The town, in turn, is bounded by a beautiful expanse of paddy fields. In the midst of paddy fields stands most impressive of Tissa’s dagobas (stupas). The combination of a cluster of dagobas & two beautiful tanks lends Tissa a certain distinction & a sense of history making it in sharp contrast with the other towns of the southern coast.
Valuable things in Tissamaharamaya
In the city of Tissamamarama, there are 4 ancient stupas belonging to the Anuradhapura Era are lying in a row which has gained the most abundant people attraction of Tissamaharamaya.
Sandagiri Stupa, Tissamaharama Stupa, Yatala Vehera & Menik Vehera
Tissamaharama Stupa Out of these, the most worshiped and the largest stupa in southern province is the Tissamaharama Stupa. According to ancient chronicles, this stupa has been built by King Kavantissa who ruled Ruhuna in the 1st century BC. But there is also a belief that this stupa was initially built by regional King Mahanaga in the 3rd century BC and King Kavantissa probably enlarged the shrine. This temple in Tissamaharamaya is the largest stupa in the Southern region where all the Buddhists pilgrims come to do religious activities in Tissamaharamya. Today, for Buddhist pilgrims, it is one of the sixteen most sacred sites (Solosmasthana) in the country and. The dagoba has a circumference of 165m & stands 55.8m high, is enshrined with sacred tooth relic & forehead bone relic of Buddha.
Nearby stands the Sandagiri Dagoba, together with the remains of a monastery complex. A walk around the dagoba provides us with an insight into the construction of the great dagobas. Santagiri (or Sandagiri) dagoba, too was built by Kavantissa in the second century BC & now restored to its original glory.
By the Tissa-Deberawewa road is Yatala Wehera, built 2300 years ago by King Yatalatissa with its surrounding wall of sculpted elephant heads & moat and large moonstone. There is also a large monolith with scorings on one face that are believed to have been made by chains used to tether royal elephants.
We continue down the road for a couple of hundred meters to reach the Menik dagoba.
Tissa Wewa rainwater reservoir
north of the modern town lies the beautiful Tissa Wewa, an expansive artificial lake built by King Kavantissa in the 2nd century BC of the ancient southern kingdom of Ruhuna. The shore nearest the town is often busy with crowds of people bathing & a flock of aquatic birds including bitterns, herons & egrets skimming across the waters. A beautiful walk leads along the massive bund which encloses the lake’s southern shore, shaded by a procession of majestic old trees.
West of Tissa, the Hambantota–Wellawaya Rd runs over this large lake. It’s home to resident waders and visited by migrating birds.
This small museum, next to Yatala Wehera, contains an extraordinary range of treasures including an ornate, ancient bidet, which as well as an elaborate filtration system that limited water pollution.
Above mentioned places are the most famous and attractive spots in Tissamaharamaya which have taken huge tourist attraction of Tourism. Though Tissamaharama is visited mainly in view of it being the gateway to the Yala National Park, “Tissa” as it is affectionately called, in its own right, is a major cultural and natural attraction.