According to legend, Deegawapi is the one place in southeastern Sri Lanka that the Buddha visited. The stupa was built during the reign of King Saddhatissa (137–119 BC) and patched up in the 2nd and 18th centuries AD before becoming lost in the jungle that was once here. The site is 19km east of Ampara via Eragama and the B439.
Rediscovered in 1916, it has for decades been at the centre of disputes; many Sinhalese say the area’s predominantly Muslim population deliberately settled on ancient dagoba (read: Sinhalese) land, while many Muslims, who have lived in the region for centuries, see the claim as a bridgehead for Sinhalese colonisation.
The site might not be interesting enough to warrant the lengthy detour: the vast central red-brick dagoba stub is massive, but it lacks a particularly scenic setting. An excavation is ongoing. The small, free museum (open 8am to 5pm) has a few archaeological exhibits.