What is it?
Standing tall on a rocky headland between Unawatuna and Galle in the southern coast of Sri Lanka is the Japanese Peace Pagoda. Promoting peace on the island, Japanese Buddhist Monks built this monument on a location that was not just beautiful but a tranquil place to visit. Early morning and evening sunset offer the best far reaching views of the historic Galle Fort and the stunning Indian Ocean. When looking from the waters of Galle Fort, this Buddhist Shrine looks like a huge marshmallow emerging from the rainforest!
Placed perfectly on the Rumasalla Hill, this Stupa (in other words) is a monument that exemplifies beacons of peace for one and for all – regardless of nationalities. The clean, rounded white bell-like structure of the Rumasalla pagoda, surrounded by gold-painted statues clearly exhibits this. The four Buddha Statues around the pagoda indicate the birth of Prince Siddhartha, His Enlightenment and the attainment of Parinibbana. One must be careful as to dress modestly when entering the Peace Pagoda. The caretaker will probably lend you a sarong if he thinks it is required.
Rumassala also goes as Buona Vista as a familiar name for colonialists – which is the subject of many legends. The Ramayana for example, features this site as the home of Queen Sita. This book also mentions that a chunk of the “Himalaya” was dropped at Unawatuna by Hanuman, thereby forming the present Rumassala Hill. ‘Onna watuna’ in Sinhalese is translated to ‘here it fell’, hence the place being named Unawatuna. Here it is believed that many medicinal plants grow as a result of the Himalaya remnants.
Who built it?
Built by the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji Nikaya and opened on the 23rd of February 2004, the Peace Pagoda is one of four stupas in Sri Lanka; the others located in Sri Pada, Bandarawela, Walapane and Ampara. Such stupas are also seen across the world in countries like America, Australia, India, Japan, Nepal and Italy.
Venerable Asami is the Japanese representative for Myohoji and has been living in Sri Lanka for 27 years. The respected Thera Reverend is a fluent Sinhalese speaker and is very popular amongst the people in Galle.
Why was it built?
Sri Lankan history had many kings who built stupas during their kingdoms. The largest of these is the Ruwanweli Maha Seya built by King Dutugemunu in Anuradhapura. The main aim for preserving these stupas is to prove that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country and that its Buddhism must be protected. The fact that the stupa can be seen from ships out at sea is a very good sign of Sri Lanka being a Buddhist country.
This is a tourist attraction that can be covered during your beach holiday in Sri Lanka. While you are relaxing on the southern coast of Galle or Unawatuna, head to the Rumassala Hills. Reaching the Peace Pagoda is a pathway that can be accessed by foot or vehicle (bumpy drive) and then there are sets of steps leading to a walkway entering the shrine. Here you have a 360 degree view of the jungle and the Indian Ocean.