The East

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.

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Nearby The East attractions

1. Buddangala Rajamaha Viharaya

6.57 MILES

Rising above the forest north of Ampara, this 150m-high hill offers panoramic views from its rocky summit (including, occasionally, of wild elephants at…

2. Mandala Mahavihara

7.56 MILES

The central Buddhist Mandala Mahavihara has a large pagoda. Its interior is somewhat tackily painted with Buddhist scenes and a cloud-dotted ‘sky’.

3. Sri Manika Pillaiyar

8.36 MILES

The Sri Manika Pillaiyar, which boasts an array of Hindu statuary illuminated by fairy lights, gives Ganesh a lovely view across Ampara Tank. It's about…

4. Japanese Peace Pagoda

9.11 MILES

This pagoda, 4km west of town, is a graceful stupa with a twist or two, including a vaguely Roman-looking colonnade ringing its lower level. Niches…

5. Heritage Museum of Kattankudy

27.27 MILES

This fine new museum plunges deep into the history of Muslims and Arab traders locally. Spread over three floors, it tells a compelling story about…

6. Kotawehera


Off the A4 between the 308km and 309km posts is Kotawehera, the ruined remains of an ancient brick stupa, which enjoys a magnificent situation upon a…

8. Church

28.05 MILES

A small church near the roundabout where the A4 highway makes the sharp turn between its route west and north.