The Enigmatic Stupas of Kadurugoda

The Enigmatic Stupas of Kadurugoda

Learn About Buddhism

A collection of small stupas found a mile east of Chunnakam, Kadurugoda is a rare island of Buddhism in the Hindu-dominated peninsula of Jaffna. We hired a tuk-tuk to the site, shortly after visiting the Keerimalai water temple.

Stupas-of-Kadurugoda

Around twenty mini-stupas made of coral are scattered about Kadurugoda. They’re thought to have been built around 2000 years ago, and were rediscovered and excavated by an English judge in 1917. Valuables buried around the site, and protected inside the stupas, included coins from pre-Christian Rome and early Indian kingdoms, indicating Jaffna’s status as an international maritime port way back in the day.

Unsurprisingly for a Buddhist site in the heart of Hindu-land, there’s a lot of contention surrounding the purpose and meaning of the stupas, and everyone seems to have a different theory. The most likely explanation we heard is that the stupas, which originally numbered 61, are the burial sites of 61 holy men who had died in a plague. And the presence of Buddhist architecture in the north of Sri Lanka is no real shocker — back then, the religions intermingled more liberally, borrowing ideas and even gods from each other. It’s likely that Hindus even used this site to worship.

Regardless of their meaning, the stupas of Kadurugoda are an amazing relic of the past, and well worth the short trip to Chunnakam, just ten kilometers north of Jaffna.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map
Budget Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Blog
Palm-Stupa
Jaffna-Dagoba-Field

2 Comments

  • Ayngelina

    Do Buddhists also bury valuables? I didn’t think they did but I guess if these exist some of them did.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm
  • Dushyanthi Hoole

    Till recently, that is till the nineties the place was officially called KAntharodai. That is where my greatgrandmother was from and we used to play in this area. Sinhalese soldiers renamed it KAdurugoda and they say it was a Sinhala place and have made up a story. Tamils were Budhist and the Tamil monks from South India taught Sri LAnkan monks. It is sad that you do not mention it but take the side of the former government that has destroyed so much of the Tamil culture in the island and is also charged with genocide.Hope you will add that the name of this place is KAntharodai too.Prof. D. HooleMichigan STate University.

    June 18, 2016 at 7:52 pm
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