Creeped Out at Isurumuniya Temple

Creeped Out at Isurumuniya Temple

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We had just arrived at the Isurumuniya Temple at the southern end of Anuradhapura’s Sacred City, and were scoping out the grounds. The temple is set in a large rock near the Tissa Wewa lake, and just to the left of the main shrine was a small cave. “Hey, check this out!” I shouted to Jürgen, immediately regretting the volume of my voice. The cave was filled with thousands of bats who came swooping out above me. Jürgen might have been impressed, if he hadn’t been busy with his own terror: a six-foot long serpent had slithered across his path. Welcome to Isurumuniya.


After recovering from our fright, we explored the rest of the temple in peace. The shrine is beautiful, in a spacious cave carved out of the rock. Above the Buddha’s head are what look like bat nests. (Do bats have nests? I don’t think so. In that case, I don’t want to know what those were). We were visiting during the evening, and the temple’s setting was made even more gorgeous by the low light. Stairs lead above the shrine to the top of the rock, and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the Tissa.

The temple complex includes a small museum where, along with other relics from Anuradhapura’s golden years, a famous carving called The Lovers is kept. It was about to close, though, and we didn’t get a picture (but there’s one here!)

The region around the temple is full of worthwhile sights, as well. Just to the north, you can find the Goldfish Park. This lovely little area holds the remains of the royal baths, which take their water from the Tissa. We were completely alone when we visited, even though these were among the most impressive ruins we saw during our time in Anuradhapura.

South of Isurumuniya are the remains of the Vessigiriya Monastery. We hadn’t been expecting much, but this was another incredibly cool area. A field of mammoth rocks, into which caves and engravings had been cut. As we climbed around, we were in impish spirits, laughing wickedly about some truly disgusting and profane things. We thought we were all alone, but while loudly discussing CENSORED, we turned a corner and came upon a Buddhist Monk who had been using the monastery’s solitude for meditation. He lifted an eye at us, and smiled. So, either he didn’t understand what we were saying to each other, or that was one dirty monk!

If you have extra time in Anuradhapura, don’t pass up the amazing southern zone, which is almost completely ignored by tourists. It’s one of the city’s best areas.

Location of the Isurumuniya Temple on our Map
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Pics and a Video from Isurumuniya
Sri Lanka Sun
Pics from the Goldfish Park
Stone Stairs Sri Lanka
Goldfish Park
Water Run
Pics from Vessigiriya
King Kong Rock
Temple Stairs
Cave Roots


  • sbarrkum

    I have been reading many of your posts. I  really like the posts which cover your experience, background of the place and great photos.  I’ll be using your blog as an intro to Sri lanka for friends.

    March 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm
  • sbarrkum

    Just clicked on the Google map and index of Locations.Just great.Question, was the sidebar index locations, a Google API thingy.

    March 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm
    • Mike Powell

      Yeah, our maps are done with Google’s API. Glad you like them!

      March 18, 2012 at 8:35 am
  • jan

    Glad it wasn’t me the snake crawled in front of.  Enjoying following the story.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:19 am
  • jay

    Thanks for sharing these nice pics 🙂

    September 22, 2012 at 5:16 am
  • Chandra

    It is amazing to see these lovely ruins.

    April 2, 2014 at 8:26 am